Skip to main content

What you can do to help your cat after surgery and show your pet how much you love them

Here's how to keep your kitty feeling safe, comfy, and calm post-op

You love your kitty. Sometimes, that means agreeing to send them in for cat surgery. Whether it’s a standard spay or neuter procedure, necessary dental work, or something more worrisome like removing a cancerous tumor, you’ll want to ensure you give your furry friend some extra TLC post-operation.

Your feline friend may also need you to be patient with them. Cat behavior after surgery can vary from pet to pet, but they may be slightly shyer, lethargic, or easily irritated for a while. The good news is that your cat should go back to normal — and hopefully wind up as an even healthier version of themselves soon. Knowing what to prepare for can ensure your cat feels safe, loved, and comfortable after surgery.

Related Videos
Orange cat wrapped in a blanket

Items that will keep your cat cozy post-surgery

After cat surgery, your kitty may have limited mobility. They may have a cast or scarring or feel a little tired from any medications or drugs used during surgery. You’ll want to have items in your home and accessible to keep your cat feeling relaxed.

  • A warm, dry bed. This item should be a no-brainer. What would you want to do after surgery? Probably chill in bed for a few days. A cozy bed allows your pet to rest and recover from their operation.
  • Blanket. A blanket isn’t a must, but it can help your cat feel warmer, safer, and more inclined to stay put instead of trying to run and jump too soon.
  • Elizabethan collar: Also known as the “cone of shame,” the Elizabethan-style collar is a staple item for post-cat surgery. It makes it hard for your kitty to scratch their face or lick or chew at post-surgical wounds. It’s typically made of fabric or clear plastic, and the vet should provide a standard one. However, you can look into cozier or fun ones (like an E-collar that looks like a lion for your little beast) for their comfort or your own amusement.
  • Space heater. If you have a drafty home or your kitty’s favorite room tends to get cold at night, a space heater can keep them snug. Try to keep the space at room temperature to give the kitty a sense of normalcy — if it’s too hot, they may get uncomfortable, escape, and hide.
  • Entertainment. YouTube is full of “Cat TV” videos with birds and chipmunks, so your cat won’t miss their favorite window perch too much.

Note: One important factor is ensuring your cat can get to all of their essentials, like food, water, and at least one litter box. It may mean moving items to ground level if your cat can’t climb stairs for a while.

A cat at the vet

Follow discharge instructions

After cat surgery, it’s important to look at discharge instructions. These instructions may include common issues to look out for, what’s concerning, and what’s harmless. For example, a decreased appetite is normal cat behavior after spaying or neutering. The vet should also provide information on what a cat can and cannot do, instructions for changing bandages, and dosing and frequency of any post-surgery medication like pain reducers. Even if you feel like you read the instructions thoroughly, call your vet if you’re concerned about anything, such as your cat’s behavior after surgery. If nothing else, you’ll have peace of mind.

Surgery can be stressful on your cat — and you. Seeing them in pain is not fun, but it should be temporary. As their caretaker, you can make them feel more comfortable. Cozy beds, blankets, and space heaters can help them relax. Cat TV can keep them entertained. Be sure to follow discharge instructions and talk to your vet about concerns, such as common cat behavior after spaying — and what flags aren’t normal. If possible, use the time to cuddle your kitty a little tighter. Just having you nearby can give them a sense of normalcy, even when they aren’t feeling quite like themselves.

Editors' Recommendations

Do cats get separation anxiety just like dogs do?
Here's how to help your cat cope with separation anxiety
Anxious calico cat lying in the cat bed of a cat tree

As many of us begin to return to work and school after years of pandemic-related remote work or study, you may notice your fur babies are behaving strangely. Although it's a fairly well-known fact that dogs can suffer from separation anxiety when their human family members leave for work or leave the house at all, not everyone knows that our cats can suffer the same issue.

Cat separation anxiety occurs less frequently than it does in dogs, but that doesn't make it any less distressing to witness. Do you think your cat has separation anxiety? Then you've likely noticed unusual behavioral changes. But try not to worry -- there are many solutions that can help reduce your cat's anxiety.

Read more
What it means when your cat is constantly scratching and how to stop it
What to know about cat scratching and how to keep it under control
Gray and white cat scratching couch

Kitty parenthood can present some serious conundrums. On the one hand, you love your cat more than you love your desk chair. However, you’d prefer it if your cat would stop scratching your desk chair. Sound familiar? Those home office upgrades you made weren’t cheap, nor were the state-of-the-art scratching posts and cat trees you bought (or made) for your cat.
Though cat scratching is a common behavior, it’s probably not your favorite habit of your kitty’s if they’re doing it on furniture, cabinets, carpet, or walls. Like many less-than-desirable cat behaviors, there may be several reasons for incessant scratching. You’ll want to pinpoint the specific triggers for your cat so you can take steps to fix the issue. Allow us to play detective for you.

Why is my indoor cat scratching so much?
Outdoor cats scratch trees, posts, and fences to condition their claws and mark territory -- especially if they’re having issues with other neighborhood cats. It can serve as a form of protection and an outlet for emotions, primarily stress or excitement. Cats also like to scratch to give themselves a manicure, as the action removes the dead parts of their nails.
Even if your cat has their own private space for a litter box and doesn’t have to contend with predators, you might find yourselves having an issue with scratching. Regardless of where a feline lives, scratching is instinctual. Cats don’t always take the time to think, "Should I scratch here, or will it make my human upset?" Instead, they may default to, "I need to scratch. This spot looks good."

Read more
Does your cat sleep with you? You should be thrilled
Here's why your cat chooses your side as his favorite resting spot
Gray cat lying on a bed with a white comforter

There's something about getting into bed at night and having your pet join you that can't be matched. When your cat comes and curls up against you, it feels cozy and comforting. But why does your cat sleep with you, and is he doing it out of affection or just because it's comfortable?

The answer may be a mix. If your cat sleeps with you, chances are a few things prompt him to seek you out, but don't worry. Most of the reasons are pretty flattering. The more you know about your cat's sleep behavior, the better you'll be able to guess why he's chosen you to be his nap buddy.

Read more