What to Expect When Your Cat is Spayed or Neutered

Even though spaying or neutering your cat is a responsible and worthwhile decision, it’s never easy to see your pet go through surgery. Just remember that your cat isn’t having the same anxiety about the experience as you are. Getting “fixed” is a common surgery and pets usually make a speedy recovery in less than three weeks.

Knowing what to expect makes any situation less intimidating. We’ve put together a guide so you will have no surprises going into the process.

Before Surgery

Once you decide to spay or neuter your cat, your vet will likely do pre-surgical bloodwork. This is a standard way to assess a pet’s health prior to an invasive procedure. It’s risky to administer anesthesia before doing this bloodwork. It’s also typical to have your cat fast for at least twelve hours prior to surgery.

Other than that, there’s not much to do beforehand. Try to stay in your normal, calm mood. If you’re nervous, your pet will pick up on it and become suspicious–especially after seeing the cat carrier come out.

If there’s any part of the procedure you don’t understand or have fears around, call your vet office. They will explain the procedure and put your mind at ease. Spays are more invasive than neuters. If you have a female cat being spayed, the vet may keep her overnight for observation.

After Surgery

The post-surgery period is where you have work to do. Don’t be alarmed if your cat seems groggy. Sleepiness, slow movements, and a lack of appetite are to be expected. Remember to ask any questions about the post-surgery aftercare before you leave the office. They will probably provide you with a printable sheet of instructions.

Priority number one is to make sure your cat doesn’t open the incision site. Use an e-collar to stop any licking or chewing on the sutures. E-collars have come a long way from the classic “cone of shame” and are available in all kinds of padded forms. Offering a chewable toy is a handy way to encourage stillness.

If your cat is neutered, you may want to swap out the usual litter for shredded newspaper or paper pellets. Regular litter can get stuck in the healing area and cause infection.

Keep your cat contained in a small, cozy spot to avoid the risk of over-activity. Check the incision site at least twice a day. If your cat’s energy and appetite don’t return with 24 hours, call your vet.

Other warning signs to look out for include:

  • Bleeding or swelling
  • Major inflammation or an odor at the incision site
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Difficulty walking (after the first day)

Your vet may prescribe pain medication, especially if your cat was spayed. Continue to give the medication as instructed even if your pet appears fine. Cats are skilled at hiding discomfort.

As long as the healing process is not delayed, most cats are completely back to normal after two weeks.


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