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How to Take Care of Your Cat After Surgery

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Most cats, even healthy ones, will have to undergo surgery at some point in their lives. It might be a routine spay/neuter procedure, setting a broken bone, or something more serious—like removal of a malignant tumour or a skin biopsy. After your cat is released from surgery, she will need a period of recovery before resuming her normal activities. Your vet will probably send you home with directions on caring for your cat. Dr. Arnold Plotnick advises, “The period immediately following surgery is when most complications occur, so it’s critical to carefully follow your veterinarian’s instructions.” 

Read on to learn more about caring for your cat after surgery.

How to encourage your cat to rest

Many cats feel a bit woozy from the anesthesia for several hours after surgery. Provide a quiet, soft bed on the floor, and keep your cat away from stairs and slippery floors. If you have other pets or small children, don't let them disturb the patient. Getting your cat to take it easy is one of the most important aspects of caring for your cat after surgery

What should you do about feeding your cat after surgery? Because anesthesia can cause your cat to feel nauseous, experts recommend that you provide only 50% of her normal amount of food on the first day. Then, increase the amount of food each day until she's back to normal.

Often, cats are sent home with pain medication or antibiotics. Be sure to carefully read the included instructions. Your cat may need to take the medicine with food or on an empty stomach. Try to get into the habit of giving medication at the same time every day. This will help you remember to give medications every day. 

Also, read up on the side effects of the medication. If your cat experiences sleepiness or clumsiness, limit him to one floor, away from stairs. Keep indoor-outdoor cats inside the house until they have recovered fully.

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How to care for your cat’s stitches

While it is normal for the surgery area to swell up immediately after surgery, other signs may indicate a medical problem. Keep a close eye on your cat's stitches, and watch for the following symptoms of infection. 

-Discharge or oozing from the stitches

-Experiencing pain even after taking medication

-Foul odor 

Experts recommend that post-surgery cats wear an Elizabethan collar. This funnel-shaped collar prevents cats from biting out their stitches or licking their wounds. No matter how much your kitty whines, keep the collar on. It's an important part of caring for your cat after surgery.

What to do in an emergency

First, know the location of the nearest 24-hour veterinary facility. If your cat's condition suddenly worsens, take her to the vet or the emergency facility immediately. Bring along any medications and a copy of your vet's discharge instructions. Even if it turns out to be nothing serious, it's better to be safe than sorry. 

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