Caring for Your Cat After Surgery

Caring for Your Cat After Surgery

You will have to care for your cat as they recover from scheduled surgery in order to help them in returning to their regular life and schedules as soon as possible. Here, our West Chester vets provide you with some advice about what to keep in mind as you care for your kitty after surgery.

Follow The Post-Op Instructions

Pets and their owners are likely to feel some anxiety leading up to and following a surgical procedure. Knowing how you should care for your feline companion after they return home from your vet will be key to helping them recover to their normal selves as quickly as possible.

After your cat's surgery, our vets will provide you with clear instructions about how to care for them and aid their recovery. Make sure you follow these instructions as closely as possible. If you are unsure about any of the steps, follow up with your vet for clarification. If, after returning home, you find that you've forgotten some aspect of the required post-operative care, our vets will be happy to clarify their instructions. 

Recovery Times for Pets After Surgery

Most often, cats will recover from soft tissue surgery like abdominal or reproductive surgeries quicker than procedures involving bones, ligaments or tendons. Generally, soft tissue surgeries will be mostly healed by the 2 - 3 week mark and after a month-and-a-half will be completely healed. 

For orthopedic surgeries, the recovery process is much longer. About 80% of your cat's recovery will occur within the first 2 - 3 months of their surgery. But, many orthopedic surgeries can take 6 months or more for total recovery.

Here are a few tips from our West Chester vets to help you keep your cat contented and comfortable as they recover at home:

Getting Over the Effects of General Anesthetic

During our surgical procedures, we use a general anesthetic to render your cat unconscious and prevent them from feeling pain during the operation. It can take some time, however, for the effects of the anesthetic to wear off after the procedure is complete. 

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. 

Diet & Feeding Your Pet After Surgery

Because of the effects of general anesthetic, your cat will likely feel slightly nauseated and will lose some of their appetite after a surgical procedure. When feeding them after surgery, try for something small and light, such as chicken or fish. You can also give them their regular food, but ensure that you're only providing them with a quarter of their usual portion. 

You should be able to expect your cat's appetite to return within 24 hours of surgery. At this point, your vet will gradually be able to start eating their regular food again. If you find that your cat's appetite hasn't returned to normal within 48 hours, contact your vet. A peristsent loss of appetite can be a sign of pain or infection at the incision site. 

Pet Pain Management

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. 

We will explain the dosage required, how often it should be administered and how to safely do so. Make sure you follow these instructions carefully in order to prevent unnecessary pain and eliminate the risk of side effects. If you aren't sure about any of the instructions you have received, contact us to 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 Pet Comfortable At Home

After your cat's surgery, it's important that you provide them with a comfortable and quiet place to rest apart from the hustle and bustle of your home. Setting up a soft and comfortable bed for your cat and giving them lots of space to spread our will help them to prevent excessive pressure on any one part of their body. 

Restricting Movement

Our vets will probably recommend that you limit the movements of your cat as much as possible for around a week following their surgery. Suddenyl jumping or stretching can disrupt your feline firend's healing process and cause an incision to reopen. 

Thankfully, very few surgeries require significant crate rest to help your cat to recover. Most outdoor cats will be able to cope with staying indoors as they recover too.

Helping Your Pet 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 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 your cat's crate is large enough to allow them to stand and turn around. If you already had a crate for your cat, you may need to purchase a larger one to accommodate for a plastic cone or e-collar. Make sure your cat has plenty of room for their food and water. 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

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, your vet will need to remove them around 2 weeks after the procedure. Your vet will let you know what kind of stitches were used to close your pet's incision and about any follow-up care they will require. 

Making sure your cat's bandages are always dry will be critical to helping their surgical incision heal quickly. 

If your pet walks around or goes outside, ensure the bandages are covered with cling wrap or a plastic bag to prevent wet grass or dampness from getting between the bandage and their skin. When your pet returns inside, remove the plastic covering, as leaving it on may cause sweat to build up under the bandage, leading to infection.

The Incision Site

Cat owners may have a difficult time stopping their pet from chewing, scratching or otherwise messing around with their surgical incision site. A cone shaped collar can be an effective options for preventing your pet from licking their wound and disrupting the healing process. 

Many cats adapt to the collar quickly, but if your pet is struggling to adjust, other options are available. Ask your veterinarian about less cumbersome products such as post-op medical pet shirts or donut-style collars.

Attend Your Pet’s Follow-Up Appointment

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.

The veterinary team at West Chester Veterinary Medical Center have been trained to correctly dress wounds. Bringing your pet in for their follow-up appointment allows this process to happen - and for us to help keep your pet’s healing on track.

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.

Caring for Pets in West Chester

West Chester Veterinary Medical Center accepts new clients to our specialty and emergency service hospital.

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(610) 696-8712