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Helping a cat recover after surgery

After your cat's surgery a little extra love and attention are going to be required to allow for the incision to heal without becoming aggravated, injured, or infected. In today's post, our Yucaipa vets share some strategies for caring for your feline friend as they recover from surgery, including what to do for a cat not eating after surgery, and how to stop a cat from jumping after surgery.

Always Follow The Post-Op Instructions

You are bound to feel anxious leading up to and following your cat's surgery, but knowing how to provide your cat with the care and attention they need will help your kitty get back to their regular selves as quickly as possible.

Following your cat's surgery, your veterinarian will give you detailed instructions on how to care for and recover your kitty at home. You must carefully follow these instructions. If you have any questions about any of the steps, please contact your veterinarian. If you get home and realize you forgot something about your cat's aftercare, don't be afraid to call and clarify.

How to Keep Your Cat From Jumping After Surgery

No doubt that your veterinarian will recommend limiting your cat's movements for a specified period (usually a week) after surgery. Sudden jumping or stretching can disrupt the healing process and may even cause the incision to reopen.

Fortunately, few procedures necessitate extensive crate or cage rest to help your cat recover, and most outdoor cats will cope well with staying indoors for a few days while they recover. Continue reading for specific tips on how to keep your cat from jumping:

Take Down All Cat Trees to Keep Your Cat From Jumping

  • Laying cat trees on their sides or covering them with a blanket is an excellent first step toward reducing jumping in your home. Leaving the cat tree up simply invites your feline companion to try their luck at leaping. It is not the most elegant solution, but it is only temporary while your cat recovers from surgery.

Keep the Cat Inside Your Home to Keep them From Jumping

  • If you have an outdoor cat, they might not be happy about having to stay inside, but it's really for the best. Jumping cats risk disaster on unsupervised excursions outside. It is best to keep your cat within reach while they are recovering from surgery because it is impossible to predict what they might get up to when they are out of sight.

Keep the Cat Away From Other Cats to Discourage Jumping

  • For your cat, socializing during the healing process might not be a good idea. Your recovering cat friend is more likely to run around the house to keep up with the other cats when they are around. If you have multiple cats, think about temporarily separating them while one is healing from surgery.

Maintain a Calm Home Environment to Keep Your Cat From Jumping After Surgery

  • Your cat's ability to relax and unwind at home decreases as there are more stimuli present. Thus, there is a much greater chance that they will jump. When your cat is healing, try to keep them away from kids and other animals. This will help them relax and get through the recovery process until they are feeling like themselves again. In order to protect your cat's rest for the foreseeable future, explain to family members the need to keep the house quiet.

Make Use of a Crate to Stop Jumping From Cats After Surgery

  • Confining your cat to a crate is a last resort for many cat owners; we do not recommend crate rest for any animal for days on end; however, if your cat is especially stubborn and unwilling to settle down, you may have no other choice. If crate training is the only option for keeping your cat from jumping, talk to your vet about anesthetics that may help your cat relax outside the crate. If your cat is particularly fond of jumping, keep them in their crate when you leave the house, only letting them out when you are present to supervise them.

Stay Alert and Focused on Keeping Your Cat From Jumping

  • Finally, while it may seem obvious, the most important strategy for keeping your cat from jumping is to remain alert to their activity. You can't correct behavior you can't see, and if your cat does injure himself, you should contact a vet right away, so cat owners should be especially attentive to their feline friends while they're recovering from surgery.

If Your Cat Won't Eat Following Surgery

It is not uncommon for a general anesthetic to cause your cat to feel slightly nauseated, implying that they will most likely experience appetite loss following a surgical procedure. Try to feed them something small and light after surgery, such as chicken or fish. You can also give them their regular food, but make sure you only give them a quarter of their usual portion.

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.

Pet Pain Management

Before you and your cat returns 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.

They will explain the appropriate dosage, how frequently you should administer the medication, and how to do so safely. Follow these instructions precisely to avoid unnecessary pain during recovery and to reduce the risk of side effects. If you have any doubts about any of the instructions, ask more questions.

Vets will often prescribe antibiotics and pain medications after surgery to prevent infections and relieve discomfort. If your cat has anxiety or is somewhat high-strung, our vets may also prescribe them a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to 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 their procedure, it's important to give your cat a cozy and peaceful place to rest, far from the noise and activity of your home, including other animals and kids. Giving your cat plenty of space to spread out and a cozy, soft bed will help prevent too much pressure being placed on any one part of their body.

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 confined.

Make sure your pet's crate is big enough for your furry child to be able to stand up and turn around. If your cat wears an e-collar or plastic cone to keep from licking it, you might need to buy a bigger crate. Make sure that your cat has enough space for its water and food dishes. Spills can make bandages wet and soiled and make your pet's crate an uncomfortable place to spend time.

Dealing With 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 approximately 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.

Ensuring bandages are dry at all times is an essential step in helping your cat's incision heal quickly.

Make sure the bandages are covered with cling wrap or a plastic bag if your cat walks around or goes outside to prevent wet grass or moisture from getting between the bandage and their skin. Remove the plastic cover when your pet enters the building because leaving it on could lead to sweat accumulation under the bandage, which could result in infection.

Caring For The Incision Site

It can be difficult for cat owners to prevent their feline friend from chewing, scratching, or fiddling with their surgical incision. To stop your pet from licking their wound, an effective alternative is a cone-shaped plastic Elizabethan collar (available in both soft and hard versions).

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 After Surgery

Our veterinary team finds that most often, any pet will recover from a soft tissue surgery like abdominal surgery or reproductive surgeries like c-sections or spays and neuters will be mostly healed within two or three weeks.

Recovery from orthopedic surgeries, which involve bones, ligaments, and other skeletal structures, takes much longer. Approximately 80% of your cat's recovery will take place within 8 to 12 weeks of surgery, but many orthopedic surgeries take 6 months or longer to complete and recover from.

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

Getting Over the Effects of General Anesthetic

We use general anesthetics during our surgical procedures in order to render your pet unconscious and to prevent them from feeling any pain during the operation. However, it can take some time for the effects to wear off after the procedure is completed.

General anesthetics can cause temporary sleepiness or shakiness on the feet. These are normal side effects that should fade with rest. A temporary loss of appetite is also quite common in cats recovering from general anesthesia.

Attend Your Cat’s Follow-Up Appointment

Your cat's follow-up appointment gives your vet an opportunity to monitor your kitty's recovery, check for signs of infection, and properly change your cat's bandages.

The veterinary team at Green Valley Veterinary Clinic in Yucaipa has been trained to dress wounds correctly. Bringing your pet in for a follow-up appointment allows this process to take place - and allows us to assist in keeping 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.

If your cat is recovering from surgery and you'd like advice on how to make it as comfortable as possible, contact our Yucaipa vets. We're always happy to help.

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Green Valley Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Yucaipa companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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