An Ounce Of Home Care Is Worth A Pound Of Recovery: Helping Your Cat Recuperate After Her Spay Surgery

Posted on: 15 June 2016

While a few animal hospitals may keep their spayed feline patients overnight, most opt instead to discharge them on the same day as the procedure. For some owners, seeing their kitty come home in a mildly groggy state can be unnerving. When the alternative is for your cat to spend the night in a darkened hospital ward during those overnight hours when no one is available to observe her, your recovering feline friend is actually better off at home where you can keep a watchful eye on her condition. Here are some guidelines that will raise your confidence in your nursing abilities and empower you to see your kitty through the full duration of her recovery.

Expect the Bobble Head Impression

When you pick up your cat, line the carrier with towels or a blanket to provide her with a soft place to lie comfortably and to keep her warm. What can you expect when you first lay eyes on your cat when her carrier is handed to you upon discharge from the hospital? She may be sitting up, but she may appear unstable as she teeters slightly back and forth. Her eyes may still be partially dilated, and the edges may appear moist from the lubrication that is applied to the eyes to prevent them from drying out while under anesthesia. She may also be giving you her best bobble head impression. This is all normal during the first few hours after an anesthetic event, and some cats recover from these effects more quickly than others. The best way that you can help her through this initial phase of recovery is to let her sleep it off in a safety zone as soon as you arrive at home.

Nurture Naptime Through Cat Confinement

If your cat remains calm, leave her in her carrier when you get home from the clinic until she is no longer bobbing her head and can sit and stand without wobbling. The close confines of the carrier will hold her securely and prevent her from injuring herself. Keep the carrier in the same room where you plan to be so that she can see your comforting presence and you can keep an eye on her. The goal is to have her rest, so choose a room that is quiet and where other pets and active children will not disturb her. If she will not tolerate being in the carrier and makes a raucous in an attempt to break out, set up a confined area in one room where she can nap in a larger space without the risk of falling off of a piece of furniture or stairs. A groggy cat may try to navigate around the room aimlessly, so sit with her until she gives in to naptime. If you have any old baby crib bumpers on hand, use them to surround your snoozing cat to prevent her from bumping her head into walls, corners and furniture.

Her First Meal Is Served

Do not feed your cat as soon as you arrive at home. Her stomach may still be unsettled from the anesthesia and from the car ride. Her first meal should be offered later in the evening once the effects of the anesthesia have abated. Select a canned food that will be easy for her to digest, and keep the portion to a couple of tablespoons. At this point, she should also be offered a small bowl of water. Do not be surprised if she does not drink or eat all of the food. Some cats do not feel like eating until the following day. Once she has eaten a small meal and kept it down, you can resume her normal meals at the next habitual feeding schedule.  

The Morning After and Beyond

Your cat will likely sleep through most of the overnight hours, but by the wee hours of the morning, she may feel up to exploring and prowling. Tuck her in within the confined room for the night. Until her incision has completely healed, she needs to be restricted from jumping, running and tussling with other pets and children, and this confinement will help to limit her opportunities to engage in such activity.

Once you have seen your cat through her first night home after surgery, you will need to continue your tender loving care by following these guidelines until her incision is healed:

  • Do not allow her to lick and chew at her incision. Light grooming is to be expected from her, but excessive grooming of that area must be discouraged.
  • Keep the litter box meticulously clean, and use shredded paper or recycled paper litter pellets instead of clay or sand litter. Be aware that it is not uncommon for a day or two to pass before she has a bowel movement.
  • Inspect the incision daily for redness, swelling, missing sutures or oozing, and alert your veterinarian if any of these things are observed.
  • If your cat normally ventures outdoors, keep her sequestered inside.
  • Do not bathe your cat.
  • If you find you cat proudly perched on an elevated surface, gently put her back on the floor instead of allowing her to make the jump down.

Your veterinarian, such as After Hours Veterinary Emergency Clinic Inc, will probably want to see your cat at the end of her healing period to remove any sutures and to confirm that she has healed completely. Until this appointment, if you have any questions or concerns about her behavior or the appearance of her incision, do not hesitate to call the clinic to confer with the doctor right away.