If your cat is recovering from surgery it is imperative that they refrain from jumping or they could injure themselves again. Our Suffolk County vets discuss how to care for your cat during recovery, how to keep your cat from jumping after surgery, as well as some tips to make recovery easier.
Follow Post-Op Instructions
Preparing for surgery can be stressful for both you and your beloved cat. There are things you can do to help make the recovery process as quick and worry-free as possible for both you and your cat.
After your pet's surgery, your vet will provide you with clear and detailed instructions about how to care for them while they are recovering at home. It is critical that you follow these instructions carefully. If there are any steps you are unsure about, make sure you follow up with your vet for clarification. If you return home and realize you've forgotten some aspect of your cat's aftercare, don't hesitate to call and clarify.
Restricting Movement - Keep Your Cat From Jumping!
Your vet will likely recommend limiting your pet’s movement for a specified period (usually a week) after surgery. Sudden jumping or stretching can disrupt the healing process and may even cause the incision to reopen.
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. Read on for specific strategies on how to keep your cat from jumping:
- Remove cat trees to prevent jumping - Since recovery is temporary the easiest way to do this is to lay them on their side or to cover them up entirely with a blanket. If the cat tree is left open and available then your cat will surely attempt to jump on it.
- Do not allow your cat to play outside - Your cat may not be happy with this but the easiest way to monitor their healing progress and to ensure their safety is to keep them inside the house.
- Isolate your cat from other cats to discourage playtime - While cats love to socialize, the best time may not be during the recovery. Playtime could potentially lead to complications. Luckily this is only for a short while as they can return to regular play once fully healed.
- Keep a relaxed environment during recovery - The more excitement there is in your house the more active your cat will also be. Try to keep your cat away from other animals and ask that everyone tries to keep the atmosphere relaxed and quiet while within the home.
- Use a crate during recovery to stop jumping - While this will not be the first choice, and it is not recommended for your cat to be kept in a crate for an extended period of time, it may be useful for moments that you can provide your full attention to monitoring them. You can discuss this option with your vet.
- Being aware of your cat during recovery - The easiest way to ensure that your cat does not jump after surgery is to monitor their activity. This will ensure that you are able to discourage any playful activity or jumping that could cause further injury to your cat.
My cat isn't eating after surgery
General anesthetic can cause your cat to feel slightly nauseated and it is common for cats to lose their appetite after having surgery. It is a good idea to begin your cat on a light diet containing chicken or fish. If you chose to provide them with their regular diet ensure its given in smaller portions, no more than a quarter of what they would typically have.
It is normal for their appetite to return approximately 24 hours after the surgery. You can then begin to allow your cat to gradually start eating their regular food again. If 48 hours have passed and your cat still has no desire to eat you should then contact your veterinarian or veterinary surgeon. In these prolonged cases, loss of appetite can be a sign of infection or pain.
Advice for managing after surgery
Before you and your cat return home after their surgery, a veterinary professional will explain to you 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 dose needed, how often you should provide the medication, and how to safely administer the meds. Be sure to follow these instructions carefully to prevent any unnecessary pain during recovery and to eliminate the risk of side effects. If you are unsure about any instructions, ask follow-up questions.
Vets will often prescribe antibiotics and pain medications after surgery in order to prevent infections and relieve discomfort. If your cat has anxiety or is somewhat high-strung, our vets may also prescribe them with a sedative or anti-anxiety medication ot help them stay calm throughout 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
After their surgery, it's important that your cat can rest and recover in a well apart from the hustle and bustle of your home, including other pets and children. Setting up a comfortable and soft bed for your kitty and giving them lots of room to spread out will help prevent excessive pressure on any one part of their body.
Managing 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 prescribes your cat with crate rest after their surgery, there are some measures you can take to make sure they are as comfortable as possible spending long periods of time confined.
Make sure that your pet's crate is large enough to allow your fur baby to stand up and turn around. You may need to purchase a larger crate if your cat has a plastic cone or e-collar to prevent licking. Don’t forget to make sure that your kitty has plenty of room for their water and food dishes. Spills can make your pet's crate a wet and uncomfortable place to spend time, and cause bandages to become wet and soiled.
Stitches & Bandages
The incision site may have been closed with internet stitches. These will dissolve as the wound heals and will not require removal at any point.
Your vet will remove any stitches or staples around 2 weeks after the procedure. They will also explain any necessary aftercare for your cat at this time.
Ensuring bandages are dry at all times is crucial to ensuring quick healing of your cat's wound.
If you need to bring your cat outside it is important to ensure the bandages are covered with cling wrap or a plastic bag to prevent any moisture from getting between the bandage and their skin. Once you have returned indoors, be sure to remove the plastic covering, as moisture can build up under the bandage, leading to infection.
The Incision Site
It is important to stop your cat from licking or chewing at the incision or bandages, however, this can be a chore. Utilizing a cone-shaped plastic Elizabethan collar (available in both soft and hard versions) you can help prevent your pet from licking their wound.
While most cats easily adapt to the collar, some may not. If this is the case then there are other options are available. Ask your veterinarian about less intrusive options such as post-op medical pet shirts or donut-style collars.
Recovery time after surgery
Generally, your cat will recover from soft tissue surgery like abdominal surgery or reproductive surgeries like c-sections or spays and neuters much quicker than operations that involve bones, joints ligaments, or tendons. Soft tissue surgeries heal in approximately 2 to 6 weeks.
For orthopedic surgeries, those involving bones, ligaments, and other skeletal structures, recovery takes much longer. In the first 8 to 12 weeks your cat will heal approximately 80% but could take 6 months or more for complete recovery.
Here are a few tips from our Plains vets to help you keep your cat contented and comfortable as they recover at home:
Recovering from general anesthesia
We use general anesthetics during our surgical procedures in order to render your pet unconscious and to prevent them from feeling any pain during the operation. However, it can take some time for the effects to wear off after the procedure is completed.
Effects of general anesthetic may include temporary sleepiness or shakiness on their feet. These after-effects are quite normal and should fade with rest. Temporary lack of appetite is also quite common in cats who are recovering from the effects of general anesthesia.
The follow-up appointment gives your vet an opportunity to monitor your pet’s recovery, check for signs of infection, and properly change your cat's bandages.
Our experienced team at Deer Park Animal Hospital is fully equipped to manage all bandage changing. Bringing your cat in for their follow-up appointment also allows us a chance to monitor their healing.
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.