It can be very scary when your beloved cat must undergo surgery. But when your cat emerges from recovery and is allowed to come home with you to rest and heal, your anxiety probably won’t stop.
Post-surgical care for cats is extremely important so your cat makes a full recovery from its wounds and does not get an infection or take a turn for the worst. Your vet is likely to send you home with specific care instructions based on its condition, but here’s a general overview of what you should expect while caring for a cat post-op.
Pay attention to veterinary instructions
Depending on the condition your cat was treated for and the specifics of its surgery, your vet will provide you with a list of instructions and medications necessary to help your cat heal in the most effective way. These instructions may also include follow-up appointments so your vet can check up on the healing process.
All of these things are extremely important to follow during the post-surgery process, so make sure to discuss them with your vet in person and ask them any questions you have before you bring your cat home for the first time after surgery.
Once you’re home, don’t be afraid to call the vet with follow-up questions or to express concern over a symptom your cat is showing. Fast action is much better than delay when it comes to your cat’s health.
Create a safe space
Your cat may normally be social and energetic, but when it is healing from surgery, it will need a space of its own away from the hustle and bustle of your family and guests. Added stress after surgery can impede the healing process. Create a cozy nook in a bedroom or den where your kitty can curl up, rest and enjoy some quiet time undisturbed.
Additionally, keeping your cat in a small bathroom or bedroom for at least 24 hours, if not a few more days, helps ensure that it doesn’t interact with small children or pets, get outside or exert itself to the point of tearing out stitches or injuring healing wounds.
A shift in behavior is normal
The day of surgery, your cat will probably be sleepy and acting strange because of its anesthetic. This should go away within a day, and your cat should start to act like itself again.
However, understand that your cat might still be slightly out of sorts for a few days after its surgery. Lethargic, anxious or needy behavior is normal; your cat may still be in pain during this time, so it may not behave as it usually does.
During this time, your cat might not eat as much as it normally does. Try not to feed it too much, but do encourage it to eat by providing more enticing food or adding some warm broth to ensure it has the energy and nutrients it needs.
After a day, your cat’s personality should be mostly back to normal, and it should be resuming most of its normal activities, including using the litter box and eating. If it is not doing these things, contact your vet for assistance.
Wound care and cleaning
If your cat has a wound from surgery that is closed with stitches or staples and has a bandage, carefully follow the vet’s instructions for cleaning it and changing the bandage.
Make sure your cat does not irritate its wound in any way as it is healing. Try to prevent it from licking or scratching at it, as well as running and jumping, which may result in tearing out stitches or impeding the healing process. Your cat may require a plastic cone or fabric collar to prevent it from bothering its bandages and wounds.
You should also make a point to examine the wound every day to make sure it has not undergone a sudden change, including inflammation, redness, pus, odors or bleeding. Generally, these symptoms indicate a new problem, like an infection, and you should call your vet right away.
If your cat is expected to experience pain as it heals, never give it pain medication designed for humans. These medications can be extremely toxic to cats.
Instead, ask your vet about prescription, pet-safe pain medications or purchase some pain relief supplements to help keep your cat comfortable. Cat are very good at masking pain, but you should be prepared to keep your cat as pain-free as possible.
With careful monitoring and care, your cat will be back to its usual, healthy self in no time! Make sure to pay close attention to your cat’s stages of healing and report any unusual activity or symptoms to your vet to ensure your cat’s health and happiness.