Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Cats Recovering from Surgery

Cats Recovering from Surgery

It can be scary for your cat to undergo surgery. As such, most owners will want to know how to best care for their kitty post-operation in order to assure their comfort and proper healing. Our Lincoln vets offer advice and tips on how to care for your cat after surgery. 

Always Follow Your Vet's Instructions

Before your cat has surgery, your veterinarian will give you clear instructions on pre- and post-surgery care for our cat. It is critical to follow these instructions closely and also know how to make your cat as comfortable as possible at home in order to ensure a smooth recovery. 

Important information a cat owner will need can be found below!

Effects of General Anesthetic

Many surgeries require general anesthetic to keep your cat unconscious during the procedure. The effects of anesthesia include drowsiness, lethargy, disorientation and slow movement, and these effects can last for several hours after surgery.

Your vet will also provide details on how you should go about introducing food to your cat after surgery as their appetite will likely be affected by the anesthesia as well. If your cat is still resisting food up to 48 hours after surgery, contact your vet immediately.

Managing Your Cat's Pain Post-op 

Your veterinarian will probably prescribe your cat pain relief medication after surgery. If you're unsure or lose written instructions, contact your vet to double check when to give your cat this medication and how much. Your vet will also probably have some tips on how to get your cat to take the medication with minimal resistance or stress!

It is not uncommon for pets to experience anxiety post-surgery. If this is the case for your pet, your vet may decide that anti-anxiety medication is the best solution. You must never give your pet any medication meant for humans as it can be detrimental to their health.

Restrict Your Cat's Movement

All pets need a quiet and comfortable place to rest while they heal post-op, but cats are especially skittish creatures. It is best to set up a bed area away from the hustle and bustle of your home, in a quiet area. Have food, water, toys and litter boxes close by. 

For a specified period after surgery, your cat will probably not be allowed to jump. Sudden jumping can cause incisions to reopen. Depending on the surgery your vet might recommend complete crate rest or just placing them in a space where there is nothing available for them to jump up onto. 

If you're keeping your cat in a room with a bed, you can get a cat ramp that will allow them to walk up without having to jump. 

Litter Considerations

Depending on the type of procedure your cat underwent, it might be recommended that you switch from your cat's regular clay litter to one that's less likely to get caught in wounds or bandages. 

Often the best litter for a cat with skin sutures is a shredded or pelleted paper-based litter. 

Checking on Your Cat's Incision

If the incision of your cat's surgery isn't bandaged, you can routinely check it for swelling, redness, pus, bad odor, or blood seepage. If you notice any of these signs, call your veterinarian immediately. 

For several days after surgery (or as long as your vet specifically says), do not bathe your cat or allow the incision to get wet. Do not apply any creams or ointments unless specifically instructed by your vet. The best way to let a post-surgical incision heal is to leave it alone as much as possible. 

You should also prevent your cat from licking or scratching at the incision. Ask your vet if your cat should wear a cone to prevent them from getting to the incision site.

Cat Shaking or Coughing After Surgery

A common question our vets receive is, "Is it normal for my cat to cough after surgery?"

Typically during surgery, a tube is placed in the cat's trachea to help them breathe while they're under anesthesia. The removal of the tube and sensation post-op can cause some coughing. You should only be concerned if this cough lasts more than a few days, in which case you can call your vet for assistance. 

Similarly, shaking or shivering can be a side effect of the anesthesia or pain relief medication your vet prescribed. To remedy this, frequently feed your kitty small amounts of food and offer them lots of extra love and attention. It's important for cat owners to remember that using a gentle voice and giving your cat good company can go a long way in the recovery process. They don't necessarily understand that they had a surgery or why they're in pain, so love from their owner is the best reassurance you can provide!

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.

Do you have more questions about caring for your kitty post-op? Contact our Lincoln vets for more information.

New Patients Welcome

Critter Creek Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of pets in Lincoln and the Greater Sacramento Area. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Contact (916) 408-0201