After a surgical procedure, your cat might be a little weary from both the ordeal and the anaesthetic. On your part, you want to help make recovery as smooth as possible – and there are several ways you can do this at home.
Your vet will give you specific advice relating to your cat's particular condition, check-up dates and post-surgical medication, so make sure you follow the instructions carefully.
In general, cats will be a little sleepy after an anaesthetic. However, they should be eating and comfortable with no signs of pain. Full recovery can take some time, but if you feel something is wrong contact your vet immediately.
Wounds and stitches
If your cat has stitches, keep a close eye on them. Some may be internal, but you should let your vet know if there’s any redness, swelling, discharge or bleeding. Unless they are designed to dissolve naturally, stitches are usually removed after about ten days, although this will vary with the type of operation and the area where the stitches have been placed. Internal stitches are hidden under the skin and dissolve naturally on their own – but your vet may still ask you to bring your cat for a follow-up appointment to check that healing is going well.
Bandages may bother your cat. It is very important that you keep bandages dry or they can cause damage to the skin. Cats with bandages should not be allowed outside as they may ruin the bandage by scratching it or getting it wet or soiled. Look out for discolouration, unpleasant odours, swelling above or below the bandage, limping or pain. Always contact your vet if you are concerned.
Collars are generally made of plastic in the shape of a funnel, known as ‘Elizabethan’ or ‘Buster’ collars. However, softer fabric collars are also now available and may be more comfortable for your cat. Keep the collar clean and remove any food debris that is spilled inside it as your cat eats.
Collars are designed to help prevent cats from licking but also biting or scratching their wounds, as well as from chewing a bandage. It’s important to keep a collar on at all times if possible, especially overnight when cats are left alone. Your pet will soon get used to wearing it, but it may hinder eating and drinking, so remove it around meal times if that is the case.
If your cat is very distressed by the collar, let your vet know as they may need to consider alternatives.
Like humans, cats can feel queasy after anaesthetic, so make sure you handle your cat with care after waking up from an operation. When home, feed your cat with a light meal. Use a highly digestible diet recommended by your vet or feed a quarter of the food your cat normally eats. Make sure that plenty of fresh water is provided – and that both food and water bowls are nearby, so your cat does not need to walk far.
Even for the most active cats, rest and recovery are extremely important. Ensure your cat stays indoors until any stitches have been removed, or for the time specified by your vet. This is no time for physical exertion, as any excessive physical activity runs the risk of complications. Try to keep your cat calm.
Ask your vet the best ways to keep your cat from running up the stairs or jumping on furniture. It may be easiest to keep them confined to a single room.