FAQs for Cat Surgery Aftercare

Surgery can be a daunting experience for pet owners, especially when it comes to caring for your cat post-surgery. To ease your worries, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian both before and after the procedure to address any concerns or questions you may have. This article aims to provide guidance on managing post-surgery care by answering frequently asked questions from cat parents. However, please note that this content does not substitute individual information or instructions from your primary care veterinarian.

Should my cat be constipated after surgery?

It’s common for cats to experience constipation after surgery, which can be painful and uncomfortable for them. Signs of constipation include straining to pass feces, passing small amounts of dry, hard stool, vocalization, and constant attempts to defecate. Medications used before, during, and after surgery can contribute to constipation, as can dehydration if your cat’s fluid intake decreases post-surgery.

Typically, cats should have a bowel movement within 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. If you notice signs of constipation more than 48 hours after surgery or your cat shows signs of constant pain, blood, or distress, contact your veterinarian immediately. They may recommend dietary changes, supplements, intravenous fluid therapy, or prescribed medications to stimulate bowel movement and soften the stool.

My cat has incontinence after surgery.

Urinary incontinence is not a common issue after routine surgery unless otherwise discussed by your veterinarian. Disorientation from certain medications used during surgery or pain and discomfort can cause your cat to have difficulty urinating in the proper location. It’s crucial to discuss a post-operative pain management plan with your veterinarian to avoid complications and ensure your cat’s comfort.

What do I do if my cat goes outside the litter box after surgery?

Before the surgical procedure, consult with your veterinarian about the potential effects of post-surgery medications on your cat’s behavior, including sedation and disorientation. Changes in litter type may be recommended to aid healing. However, it’s common for cats to resist using new litter or litter boxes due to stress and discomfort. To acclimate them to the changes before surgery, place a few boxes with the new litter around your home. If your cat continues to avoid the new litter or box, consult your veterinarian for alternative solutions.

Is it normal for my cat to pee a lot after surgery?

Depending on the procedure, medications, and fluid therapy, it’s normal for your cat to urinate more frequently within the first 24 to 48 hours after leaving the hospital. Intravenous fluids during their stay may increase urine production. However, if you observe signs of pain, blood, or excessive urination beyond the expected timeframe, consult your veterinarian immediately. These symptoms may indicate low blood pressure, blood loss, or other complications that require medical attention.

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My cat won’t pee after surgery.

The inability to urinate is a medical emergency, particularly for male cats. Contact your veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic immediately if your cat has not urinated in 12 hours, shows signs of straining, vocalization, blood in their urine or litter box, or appears to be in pain. Urinary blockages can occur after surgery due to stress-related complications, causing the bladder to expand and toxins to accumulate. Prompt veterinary intervention is necessary to prevent fatal complications.

How can I tell if my cat is in pain after surgery?

Pain in cats can be challenging to detect, as they often hide it well. Even if your cat appears normal after surgery, they can experience pain just like humans do. It’s crucial to follow the prescribed pain-relief medications to ensure their comfort. Look for changes in behavior, such as hiding, decreased appetite, reluctance to engage in usual activities, or sudden alterations in behavior patterns. Inform your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs.

What can I give my cat for pain after surgery?

Your veterinarian will determine a pain management plan before and during the procedure, aiming to keep your cat comfortable and pain-free. Typically, cats receive a combination of opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for acute and post-operative pain. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding pain medication administration and continue as prescribed. If you notice ongoing pain or discomfort, consult your veterinarian for further guidance.

What do I do if my cat is not eating after surgery?

It’s normal for cats to have a decreased appetite immediately after returning home from the hospital due to medications and stress. However, if your cat continues to show disinterest in food or doesn’t resume eating within a few days, consult your veterinarian. Several factors, including pain, discomfort, medication side effects, infection, or surgical complications, could contribute to the loss of appetite. Follow your veterinarian’s feeding instructions and inquire about pain medications, anti-anxiety medications, hydration supplements, and high-calorie diets that may encourage eating and promote hydration.

My cat won’t drink water after surgery. Is this okay?

Dehydration is common in cats, so maintaining proper hydration after surgery is crucial. Speak with your veterinarian about feeding a moist or semi-moist diet with high water content to support hydration. Offer fresh, clean water at all times and consider using a water fountain to encourage drinking. Monitor your cat’s water intake and consult your veterinarian if they don’t consume water or show signs of dehydration. Avoid using over-the-counter hydration or human electrolyte solutions, as they may contain ingredients that are toxic to cats.

Is it normal for my cat to be vomiting after surgery?

Vomiting after surgery is not normal and may indicate various issues such as medication side effects, post-operative effects of anesthesia, fever, infection, inflammation, or surgical complications. Consult your veterinarian if your cat vomits after surgery to determine the appropriate steps for their care. In cases of frequent vomiting or vomiting accompanied by weakness, lethargy, or a lack of interest in eating or drinking, seek immediate veterinary care.

What do I do if my cat’s stitches are coming out?

External sutures and staples on the skin’s surface may become loose or break due to normal daily movement and activity. To promote proper wound healing, restrict your cat’s movements and activities during the first 10 to 14 days post-surgery. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations regarding the use of an e-collar or surgical body suit to prevent licking and associated complications. Monitor your cat’s incision daily for redness, swelling, discharge, or missing/loosened sutures. Contact your veterinarian if you notice any concerning signs to prevent further wound issues.

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When should my cat’s stitches be removed?

The removal of sutures depends on their type and location. Internal sutures are absorbable and do not require removal. However, some cats may develop a mild suture reaction at the knot site, resulting in a small, hard bump. This is normal, but consult your veterinarian if swelling or drainage is excessive. External sutures and staples on the skin’s surface should be removed by a veterinary professional. Typically, removal occurs 10 to 14 days after the procedure. Schedule a recheck examination to ensure proper healing and address any secondary issues or complications.

When should my cat’s bandages be removed?

Bandages should be addressed by your veterinarian, as improper bandage use can lead to pressure wounds, necrotic tissue, and infections. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations regarding bandage removal and rechecks to prevent complications.

Is it bad for my cat to lick the incision site? Does my cat have to wear a cone?

Licking the surgical site can cause infections, irritation, and damage to sutures. Protecting the surgery area is crucial, and while bandages are not always recommended, your cat should wear a post-operative body suit or an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) to prevent self-inflicted trauma and infection. Properly fitted e-collars or body suits allow your cat to eat, drink, and use the bathroom while restricting access to the surgical area. Check the suit or e-collar daily for proper fit and comfort, and contact your veterinarian if your cat appears uncomfortable.

What are the signs of infection?

Surgical site infections can occur despite precautions taken during and after the procedure. Monitor your cat for signs of infection, including discolored discharge from the incision, redness, swelling, signs of pain, wounds not healing, and changes in drinking behavior. If you suspect an infection, contact your veterinarian for assessment, as topical ointments or over-the-counter medications are not suitable for treating underlying infections.

My cat is panting/breathing heavily after surgery. Why? What should I do?

Persistent panting, heavy breathing, or increased respiration are abnormal in cats following surgery. Pain is a common cause for these symptoms, as pain medications may wear off over time. Some medications used during surgery can also affect breathing. However, it’s crucial to rule out any medical conditions or complications. Contact your veterinarian to discuss any concerns and determine the appropriate next steps for your cat’s care.

Why is my cat purring after surgery?

Cats purr as a response to various stimuli, including comfort and pleasure. However, scientific research has shown that cats also purr during times of discomfort, pain, fear, and distress. Purring can be a defense mechanism to alleviate stress in stressful situations like a vet visit or during recovery. If your cat’s behavior changes and purring is accompanied by signs of discomfort, consult your veterinarian to discuss pain management options and rule out underlying conditions.

Why is my cat sleeping in his litter box after surgery?

Abnormal behavior changes in your cat after surgery should raise concerns. Pain and discomfort are common reasons for cats to hide in their litter boxes. Consult your veterinarian to ensure your cat’s pain is appropriately managed. If your cat experiences stress or motion sickness during car rides, it may contribute to sleeping in the litter box. Prescription anti-anxiety and anti-nausea medications may help. Create a safe space that is quiet and free from distractions, providing separate food, water, and a low-entry litter box for your cat’s comfort.

My cat is sneezing after surgery. Why?

Sneezing may occur three to seven days after surgery in some cats. Feline Upper Respiratory Complex, linked to underlying viruses like herpesvirus, can cause mild symptoms such as clear nose and eye discharge alongside sneezing. These symptoms typically resolve within five to seven days. However, consult your veterinarian if sneezing persists or is accompanied by yellow, green, or blood-tinged nasal discharge. Dental disease, respiratory tract infections, or other underlying conditions may also cause respiratory complications, depending on the procedure.

Remember, if you have specific concerns or questions about your cat’s post-surgery care, always reach out to your primary care veterinarian for guidance.