Best ways to care for your cat after surgery

Surgical operations may be needed in cats for neutering or spaying, and sometimes, it may be needed after an injury, accident, or complication. Whatever the issue, it is only natural to feel worried.

You’ll always want to give your cats the best of care after surgery. This is important to help them return to their normal activities as fast as possible.

Unfortunately, many cat owners do not know how to take care of their cats after surgery. That’s where this article comes in.  You need to learn how to keep them calm and comfortable during the healing period and this guide will teach you the basics of what to do.


What should I do when my cat arrives home after surgery?

The first thing you should be concerned about when your cat arrives home is comfort. You should provide a soft clean bed in a draft-free room with a temperature between 20 and 240C.

Keep your cat indoors and restrict them from any form of activity for one full week. In other words, do not give your cat a chance to run, jump, or engage in other strenuous activities that can put a strain on the wound.

Below are some suggested places to put a cat after surgery. These vary, depending on your cat, your space, and the type of procedure they had:

Large carrier or plastic dog crates: Many people have good successes using dog crates as it gives your dog enough room to lounge. This crate should provide space for their food and litter box.

Bedroom: A small bedroom can be a great place to keep your cat after surgery. However, you’ll need to cat-proof the room and know the potential for your cat to jump on your furniture. So move the furniture out. If that’s not possible, you can add a pet ramp or gentle slope near the furniture to get up and down without having to jump.

Laundry room or small bathroom: You can place your cat in your laundry room, but ensure you remove anything from a countertop to a windowsill as cats tend to jump on them. Also, remove or block their access to medications, trash cans, detergents, and other items that could cause harm.

How do I feed my cat after surgery?

When you arrive home, wait for a few hours and then feed your cat half of their normal dinner. If they still seem hungry after eating, you may offer them the rest of the meal after one hour.

Keep in mind that after general anesthesia, some cats may experience nausea. But when you divide the meal into smaller portions, it may decrease the risk of nausea and vomiting.

Offer your cat water without any restriction, unless otherwise instructed.

Why is my cat’s foreleg been shaved?

If you notice any shaved area on your cat’s leg, do not panic, it is typically where the sedative or anesthesia was administered.

Also, veterinary surgeons administer intravenous (IV) fluids through a catheter during surgery. To do this, they need to shave the cat’s hair to allow proper disinfection of that area before inserting the catheter. Most times, this area is bandaged and you can remove it the following day unless otherwise instructed.

Is it normal for a cat to seem very sleepy?

Remember that your cat was given general anesthesia or a sedative. These drugs take many hours to wear off and may cause drowsiness for a day or two. So give your cat some time and their sleep cycle will return to normal.

However, if your cat sleeps beyond normal, do not hesitate to contact the hospital.

How do I stop my cat from chewing the stitches or licking their wounds?

Your cat may try to lick around the surgical site; that’s their normal instinct. That’s why it is important that you get an Elizabethan-type protective collar (also called E-collar or “cone”). This helps to prevent chewing.

But if you’re not given this E-collar and you notice that your cat is chewing or licking the incision, it is advisable that you contact the hospital and get the E-collar.

At first, your cat may try to remove the E-collar as it is strange to them, but with time, they will settle down and tolerate wearing it. It is better that you keep the collar on all the time to prevent your cat from damaging the surgery site.

However, if your cat succeeds in removing any stitches, reach out to the hospital as soon as possible.

Should I be concerned about a slight cough I observed in my cat?

During surgical operations, a tube may be placed in the trachea to administer anesthetic gas or oxygen. This tube can cause a slight cough due to irritation. This is normal and would often diminish in the next few days.

However, if the cough persists or worsens, do not hesitate to contact the hospital.

What should the incision look like after surgery?

The incision after a surgical procedure should look very clean and the surrounding skin should be either normal or slightly reddish-pink.

If you have a pale-skinned cat, you may notice bruising around the surgical site. In some cases, this may seem excessive compared to the size of the incision, while in other cases, it may not appear until a few days after the operation. When it is excessive, it is due to the seepage of blood beneath the edge of the skin, and it is normal.

In some cats, small amounts of blood may seep intermittently from a fresh incision and that can last up to 24 hours, especially if the cat is active.

However, contact the hospital if you notice any of the following:

  • Intermittent blood seepage that goes on for more than 24 hours
  • Excessive swelling or redness of the skin
  • Continuous or excessive blood draining
  • Unpleasant discharge or smells

When will the stitches be removed?

Most times, the stitches or sutures on your cat will be removed 7 to 14 days after the surgical procedure. However, the actual time is dependent on the surgery type. Your veterinarian will often tell you when to return for suture removal.

Sometimes, veterinarians may use sutures that do not need removal. They place these sutures under your cat’s skin and they often dissolve in the coming weeks.

You can ask your veterinarian any question you feel like asking regarding your cat’s stitches.

Will my cat receive medications subsequently?

After a surgical procedure, you may be given pain medications or other medications. Ensure that you read the labels carefully and follow the instructions as prescribed by your doctor.

But if you have any trouble using any drug or treating your cat, do not hesitate to contact the hospital for advice.

When can a cat resume normal activities?

The type of surgery your cat undergoes will determine when they will resume normal activities. Most times, there’s a need to restrict your cat for at least one or two weeks. In cases where the sutures are to be removed, activities need to be on hold until the sutures are removed.

The essence of restricting your cat’s activity is to prevent the incision from opening.

You also need to avoid baths during this period, as moisture can introduce bacteria into the wound and cause infection. Your veterinarian will often give you detailed instructions on every post-operative instruction.


Your cat needs a lot of care and attention after surgery. You need to keep a close check to ensure they are not put at risk of hurting themselves, licking, or scratching the incision. If you notice any strange behavior, however, ensure you visit your veterinarian for a proper checkup and follow every instruction given to you accordingly.




Improve your cat's quality of life with these simple tricks which you can implement immediately.