You can help your cat return to normal life as soon as possible after surgery by doing some things at home. Our Middlesex veterinarians provide tips and advice on how to help your cat recover after a procedure.

Follow Post-Op Instructions

You're probably nervous in the days leading up to and after your cat's surgery. That being said, understanding how to care for your feline companion after they return home is critical to assist your pet in returning to their routine as soon as possible.

Following your cat's surgery, you'll receive clear and detailed instructions from your vet on how to care for your kitty at home while they recover. It is critical that you strictly adhere to these instructions.

Please call your veterinarian if you have any questions about any of the procedures. Even if you get home and realize you misunderstood anything about your cat's aftercare, don't be hesitant to phone and ask for clarification.

Recovery Times for Cats After Surgery

Our veterinary staff has discovered that soft tissue surgeries, such as C-sections or spays and neuters, or belly surgery, allow pets to heal faster than procedures requiring tendons, bones, ligaments, or joints. Soft tissue surgeries normally heal in 2 to 3 weeks and completely heal in 6 weeks.

Parts of the body that have undergone orthopedic surgery (involving ligaments, bones, and other skeletal structures) tend to heal much more slowly. Approximately 80% of your cat's recovery will take place 8 to 12 weeks after surgery. However, the average recovery time from orthopedic surgery is 6 months or longer.

Today, our Middlesex vets will share a few tips to help keep your cat comfortable and content as they recover at home. 

Recuperating from Effects of General Anesthetic 

A general anaesthetic is used during surgical operations to render your cat asleep and prevent them from feeling discomfort. However, after the surgery, the effects of anaesthetic may take some time to wear off.

General anesthetics can cause temporary shakiness on their feet or sleepiness. These are normal side effects that should fade with rest. A temporary loss of appetite is also a common side effect in cats recovering from anesthesia.

Diet & Feeding Your Cat After Surgery

Because of the effects of a general anesthetic, your cat may feel slightly nauseated and lose some appetite following a surgical procedure. Try to feed them something small and light after surgery, such as chicken or fish. You can also give them their regular food, but only a quarter of their usual portion.

If you notice your cat not eating after surgery, this is normal — monitor them closely. The appetite of your cat should return within 24 hours of surgery. At that point, your pet can gradually resume eating its regular food. Contact your veterinarian or veterinary surgeon if your pet's appetite hasn't returned within 48 hours. Loss of appetite can indicate an infection or pain.

Pet Pain Management

Before you and your cat go home after surgery, a veterinary professional will explain what pain relievers or other medications they have prescribed for your pet so you can manage your cat's post-operative pain or discomfort.

They will explain the proper dose, frequency of administration, and how to do so securely. Follow these guidelines exactly to minimize unnecessary discomfort and adverse effects during recuperation. Ask extra questions if you have any doubts about any of the instructions.

Antibiotics and pain relievers are frequently prescribed by veterinarians following surgery to prevent infection and discomfort. If your cat is anxious or hyperactive, our veterinarians may prescribe a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help them stay calm during the healing process.

Never provide your cat with human medications without first consulting your veterinarian. Many drugs that help us feel better are toxic to our four-legged friends.

Keeping Your Cat Comfortable At Home

While your cat is recovering from surgery, it is vital to provide a pleasant and peaceful spot for your kitty to rest away from the chaos of your home, including other pets and children. Setting up a soft and comfy bed for your cat, as well as lots of space for them to spread around, will help minimize excessive pressure on any one portion of their body.

How to Keep Your Cat From Jumping After Surgery

Following surgery, your veterinarian will most likely advise you to limit your pet's movement for a specific amount of time (typically a week). Jumping or stretching too quickly can disturb the healing process and potentially cause the incision to reopen, especially after fracture repairs or other types of orthopedic surgery that necessitate rest.

For the duration of your cat's recovery period, you can place them in a smaller area of the house and remove furniture that they may want to jump onto. 

Thankfully, few procedures require a significant crate or cage rest to help your cat recover, and most outdoor cats will be able to cope well with staying indoors for a few days as they recover.

Helping Your Cat Cope With Crate Rest

While most surgeries won't require crate rest for your cat, if they underwent orthopedic surgery, part of our recovery will involve a strict limit on their movements. 

If your vet recommends crate rest for your cat after surgery, there are some precautions you can take to ensure they are as comfortable as possible while confined for extended periods.

Check that your pet's crate is large enough for him to stand up and turn around in. You may need to purchase a larger crate if your cat wears a plastic cone or an e-collar to avoid licking. Make sure there's enough room for your cat's water and food dishes. Spills can make your pet's crate a wet and uncomfortable location for him or her to spend time, as well as cause bandages to become wet and soiled.

Cage rest can be difficult for cats and boredom may set in. Ask your vet whether limited periods outside the cage for gentle play and interaction are possible. 

For cats that must be on extended cage rest, feeding enrichment can help relieve boredom. 

Stitches & Bandages

Stitches that have been placed on the inside of your pet's incision will dissolve as the incision heals.

If your cat has stitches or staples on the outside of their incision, they will need to be removed by your vet about 2 weeks after the procedure. Your veterinarian will inform you of the type of stitches used to close your pet's incision, as well as any necessary follow-up care.

Another important step in assisting your pet's surgical site to heal quickly is to keep bandages dry at all times.

Cover the bandages with cling film or a plastic bag if your pet goes outside to prevent wet grass or humidity from getting between the bandage and their skin. Remove the plastic covering when your pet gets home, as leaving it on may cause sweat to build under the bandage, resulting in illness.

The Incision Site

Cat owners typically struggle to keep their pet from clawing, chewing, or otherwise messing with the site of their surgical incision. Use a cone-shaped plastic Elizabethan collar (available in soft and hard variants) to prevent your pet from licking their wound.

Many cats adapt quickly to the collar, but if your pet is having trouble, there are other options. Inquire with your veterinarian about less cumbersome options, such as post-op medical pet shirts or donut-style collars.

Attend Your Cat's Follow-Up Appointment 

At your follow-up appointment, your vet will check in on your cat's recovery, look for signs of infection, and changes your cat's bandages. 

Bound Brook Veterinary Clinic's veterinary team has been educated to correctly dress surgery sites and wounds. Bringing your cat to our veterinary facility for a check-up allows this process to occur — and allows us to assist in ensuring your cat's recuperation is on track. We will also address any issues or concerns you may have.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat going to have surgery at Bound Brook Veterinary Clinic? To learn more about how you can prepare for your kitty's aftercare, contact our Middlesex veterinary team.