For a cat recovering from surgery, receiving their owner's utmost care and attention is key to their recovery. This will help them recuperate and reduce the risk of complications arising. In this post, our Glendale vets share some tips to help your cat recover from surgery, including helping them get back to a normal meal routine.

Closely Follow Your Vet's Post-Op Instructions

You and your kitty will probably feel some anxiety leading up to and following surgery. However, understanding how you can best care for your cat after they return home is critical to helping your four-legged companion get back to their regular self as quickly as possible. 

After your pet has come out of surgery, your veterinarian will give you clear and detailed instructions about how to care for them at home while they recover. Carefully following your veterinarian's instructions will be key to ensuring your cat's recovery goes smoothly. If you return home and realize that you've forgotten some aspect of your cat's care, don't hesitate to call and clarify anything you're unclear about with a veterinary professional. 

Restricting Your Cat's Movement & Keeping Them From Jumping 

Your vet will probably recommend restricting your cat's movement for a specified period (typically a week) after surgery. Sudden jumping or stretching can disrupt the healing process and may even cause the incision to reopen. 

Thankfully, very few procedures require a significant amount of crate or cage rest tp help your cat recover. Most outdoor cats will be able to cope pretty well with staying indoors for a couple of days. Read on for some specific categories on how to keep your cat from jumping after surgery.

Take Down All Cat Trees 

Cover cat trees with a blanket or lay them on their side to discourage your cat from jumping. Leaving the cat tree up simply invites your feline friend to test their legs by leaping. 

While it may not be the most elegant solution, it will only need to last a short while for your cat to recover. 

Keep Your Kitty Inside While They Recover 

While outdoor cats may protest about being kept inside, it's for their own good after surgery, as unsupervised trips outside invite disastrous consequences for jumping cats. 

You won't be able to ensure your cat is safe while they are out of sight, so it's best to keep them within easy reach while they recover from their procedure. 

Keep Your Cat Away From Other Cats to Discourage Jumping

Interacting with other cats soon after surgery may not be the best idea for your cat. 

While in the presence of other cats, your recovering feline friend will be more likely to become excited and run around the house to keep up with them. 

If you own more than one cat, consider separating them as much as possible while one is recovering from a procedure. 

Maintain a Calm Home Environment After Your Cat's Surgery 

The more opportunity your cat has to become stimulated, the less likely they are to lay down and relax as they are supposed to. This will increase the chances of them jumping around or otherwise doing activities that they shouldn't. 

Try to keep your cat isolated from other pets or children while they are recovering, as this will help them chill out until they get back to their usual self. 

Explain to those in the household that your cat will need some quiet time for the next short while to rest and recover. 

Initiate Crate Time as a Way to Prevent Jumping After Surgery

A final measure for many cat owners with cats recovering from surgery is to impose crate rest for your kitty. While we don't encourage crate rest for days on end for any animal, if your cat is unwilling to settle down and is at risk of seriously injuring themselves, you may have no other option but to extend their crate rest to help them heal. 

If this is the only measure you can take that works, consider speaking with your veterinarian about anesthetics that may help your cat relax outside the crate. 

If your cat is particularly fond of jumping on and off things, it may be necessary to keep them in their crate whenever you are unable to supervise their activities 

Remain Alert & Keep a Close Eye on Your Cat's Activities 

This might go without saying, but the most important strategy to keep your cat from jumping is to stay alert and monitor their activity closely. 

You can't correct behavior that you don't see. If your cat reinjures themselves, make sure you contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Because of this, cat owners need to be especially attentive to their feline friends while they are recovering from surgery. 

What To Do If Your Cat is Not Eating After Surgery

Since the effects of a general anesthetic can last a little while, your cat will probably feel a bit nauseated and will experience some loss of their appetite after a surgical procedure. When feeding your pet after surgery, try something small and light such as fish or chicken. You can also give your cat their regular food, but make sure you only give them about a quarter of what you usually would.

You can expect your cat's appetite to return within about 24 hours post-surgery. At that point, your pet can gradually start to eat their regular food again. If you find that your pet’s appetite hasn’t returned within 48 hours, contact your veterinarian or veterinary surgeon. In these prolonged cases, loss of appetite can be a sign of infection or pain.

Other Helpful Tips for Caring for Your Cat After Surgery

Pet Pain Management

Before you and your cat return home after their surgery, your vet 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.

Your vet will explain the dosage of your cat's pain management medications as well as the frequency with which you should administer it. Make sure to follow these instructions as closely as possible to prevent unnecessary pain during your cat's recovery and to eliminate the risk of side effects arising. If you are unsure about any of the instructions that you received, 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 to help them stay calm throughout the healing process.

NOTE: 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 surgery, it's key to provide your cat with a comfortable and quiet place to rest, 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.

Helping Your Pet Cope With Crate Rest

Most cat surgeries won't require crate rest unless your cat has undergone orthopedic surgery, in which case strict limits on their movements will be necessary while they heal.

If your cat is prescribed with crate rest after their surgery, there will be some measures that you can take to make sure that your feline companion remains as comfortable as possible when spending time in confinement. 

Ensure that your pet's crate is large enough to allow your cat to stand up and turn around. You may need to buy a bigger crate if your pet has an e-collar or plastic cone around their neck to prevent licking. Remember that your cat will also need room for their water bowl and food. Spills may make your pet's crate uncomfortable if the crate is too cramped, causing bandages to become wet and impacting recovery too.

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 bandages or stitches on the outside of the surgical incision site, a vet will remove them after around 2 weeks from their procedure. Your vet will let you know what kind of stitches were used to close your cat's incision and what follow-up care (if any) they will require.

Ensuring bandages are dry at all times is another critical step to helping your pet’s surgical site 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

Many cat owners find it difficult to stop their feline friend from chewing, licking or scratching at their incision site. Preventive collars, in both soft ad hard versions, are effective options to stop your pet from licking their wound by obstructing their access. 

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.

Recovery Times for Cats Following Surgery

Our veterinarians find that most often, pets who have undergone soft tissue surgeries like abdominal surgery or reproductive surgeries take less time to recover from when compared to surgeries involving joints, bones ligaments and more. Often, soft-tissue surgeries are mostly healed within two or three weeks, taking about a month-and-a-half to heal completely.

For orthopedic surgeries, those involving bones, ligaments, and other skeletal structures, recovery takes much longer. About 80% of your cat's recovery will occur about 8 to 12 weeks after surgery, but many orthopedic surgeries take 6 months or more for complete recovery.

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 Limehouse Veterinary Clinic 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 people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.

Do you have questions about your cat's recovery from a surgical procedure? Contact us today. We are here to help you ensure a smooth recovery for your feline friend.