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Many owners will choose to have their female cats spayed. It helps protect against unwanted pregnancy and stops your cat from going through the noisy and annoying heat cycle for six months of the year. Besides, it hugely reduces the risk of them developing some deadly diseases such as breast cancer or an infection of the womb.
When a cat is spayed, both of its ovaries and entire reproductive tract down to the uterus are removed. It is performed under general anesthetic and so the operation itself isn’t painful. However, after surgery, your kitty will require some special post-operative care to help her make a full recovery.
One of the most important things you can do is keep the spayed cat indoors. You need to know how long to keep a cat confined after spaying and the best ways to care for them during this time.
In this article, I share with you all my tops on post-operative care so their wounds can heal quickly and effectively with no complications.
What Happens When a Cat Is Spayed?
Before we get onto how long to keep a cat confined after being spayed, it is important to understand what happens during surgery. This makes it easier to understand why post-operational care is so important in the recovery process.
When you first take your cat to the vet for their appointment, your vet will put them under a general anesthetic so they are unconscious throughout the operation. They will then clip away a section of fur ready for the surgical incision. The vet then creates a small incision and removes both the ovaries and the reproductive tract down to the cervix.
Once removed, your vet will stitch up the small incision. They generally use dissolvable stitches so that they don’t have to be removed. However, in some instances, nylon stitches will be used. These need to be removed around ten days after the operation. The vet will then put a bandage over the area and send your cat home with you.
How Long Should I Confine a Cat After Spay?
Now onto the main event! A cat should be confined for a minimum of two days following surgery. However, it is recommended that you keep a cat confined indoors for the entire time they are healing. In most cases, this takes no more than ten days. However, if at this time you don’t think the wound has healed properly you can keep them in confinement for longer.
This confinement may seem unnecessary and over the top. However, it allows you to permanently monitor your cat’s recovery, avoids risks that could prolong the healing process, and keeps them safe.
In fact, it is needed for four main reasons:
- Because the general anesthetic used to make your cat unconscious throughout the procedure is still wearing off. While this is still in their system, it can make your cat feel sleepy and disorientated. They may keep falling over when in this state and so need to be monitored or keep in an enclosed space away from dangers.
- Because the incision made in their abdomen needs proper time to start healing. Letting your cat roam as they usually do could be detrimental to this. For example, if your cat was to take a huge leap from a fence they could stretch their stomach and break the stitches holding the open wound together. Keeping your cat confined minimized this risk.
- Because as the wound is healing it is prone to infection. The risk of catching an infection is much higher if they are outdoors or roaming freely around your house. Conversely, keeping your cat in confinement minimizes the risk of the wound becoming infected. Moreover, if it was to start bleeding or look sore you’ll notice immediately.
- Because the vet will bandage the wound up after they have inserted the stitches. These bandages can easily become loose or slip out of place. Not only could this cause your cat unnecessary discomfort, but it can also prevent the wound from healing quickly. Keeping your cat in confinement minimizes the chance of this happening and keeps them in a safe space from which you can easily keep an eye on them.
Precautions to Take After a Cat Is Spayed
Now we know how long you need to keep a cat confined after they are spayed, but what does this actually mean? What precautions do you need to take during confinement? This all depends on the length of time after the operation.
Let’s take a closer look.
In the first 24 to 48 hours, you need to try and prevent your cat from walking hardly anywhere at all. This is for your cat’s safety as the anesthetic wears off. During this period, your cat should be kept in one of the following:
- Large Pet Carrier: A large pet carrier is a great option for keeping your cat out of trouble for the first two days post-operation. This needs to be much larger than your usual cat carrier though with enough space for a cat bed, food and water bowls, and a litter box. Therefore, I recommended using a plastic dog crate to ensure there is enough space.
- Laundry Room or Toilet: Another option is to use a small room in your home such as a laundry room, a spare toilet, or a small bathroom. This is a great idea if you cannot afford to purchase a large pet carrier to use for just a couple of days. However, this will not be as safe as there are higher surfaces such as the toilet or sink that your disorientated cat could jump up to and fall from. However, it is still a good option and safer than many other spaces.
- Bedroom: Keeping your cat in your bedroom is another option if you don’t have a crate or a small room. However, you will need to make some changes so that it is safe for your cat while they are in recovery. You should remove as many small items of furniture as possible and any items that a disorientated cat can easily knock over. Additionally, you should ideally have a low-lying bed so if your cat does jump on top of it there is little chance of injury.
- Vet’s Office: If your bedroom isn’t appropriate and none of the other options I have mentioned work, you should ask your vet if you can keep the cat there for 24 to 48 hours post-operation. This is necessary if your home is too risky as you don’t want any complications to arise or there to be healing issues.
Whichever location you choose, ensure your cat has everything they need in the room or enclosure. This includes their litter box, food and water bowls, and a pet bed for them to sleep in. Keeping their usual routine as consistent as possible is also recommended to try and make this period as familiar and stress-free as possible.
Once your cat is in confinement, be sure to check on them regularly to ensure they are doing okay, clean their litter tray, and top up their food and water. This might sound obvious, but make sure you don’t accidentally let your cat out of the room when doing this. You don’t want them to escape and wind up in trouble!
If you constantly find your cat attempting to lick or bite at the point of incision, it may be worth getting a cone to put around your cat’s neck. You’ll only need to keep this on for the first few days to help the wound with the initial healing.
Up to Ten Days Post-Operation
After the anesthetic has worn off in the 1 to 2 days after your cat has been spayed, you can take them out of strict confinement. However, you should still confine a cat indoors until the incision is completely healed. This helps with recovery, prevents infection, and helps keep your curious kitty out of mischief.
Unfortunately, it is not as simple as keeping your cat indoors and hoping for the best. There are still precautions that you need to consider, which includes the following:
- Discourage Jumping: When confining your cat at home, you can let your cat walk around as usual but try to discourage them from jumping on any furniture which can cause their stitches to come loose. Of course, this is easier said than done; the only real way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to keep a close eye on your cat. If you are not at home to supervise this, put them back wherever you were keeping them immediately after surgery until you are home to monitor them.
- Avoid the Stairs: Your cat should also not climb the stairs while the wound is healing. Doing so could put a strain on your cat who is feeling weak as their body recovers. Moreover, it can cause the stitches to tear and slow down the healing process. Therefore, block off the stairs or keep your cat in an enclosed room when you aren’t at home to watch they don’t attempt climbing the stairs when you’re not looking.
- Calming Home Environment: The wound may cause your cat some discomfort once the anesthetic wears off. If you see your cat hiding suddenly or being more withdrawn, this could indicate they are stressed and in pain. However, keeping your house free from as many stressors as possible will help them to relax and manage this recovery period better. Keep their litter box clean, stick to their usual feeding schedule, don’t bring any new people or animals into your home, and try to avoid loud noises where possible.
- Avoid Playing Together: Running around and playing will slow the healing process for your cat. The wound could accidentally get pulled open and your cat might start bleeding. Therefore, you need to avoid playing with your cat as they get better. If they have a lot of pent-up energy, you can leave some of their toys lying around for them to play with themselves. However, monitor them to make sure they don’t get too excited or play too rough.
- Keep Other Cats Away: While your kitty is recovery from the spaying operation, you need to keep them away from other cats or animals in your household. Although you understand the importance of being cautious and delicate with your kitty while they are in recovery, your other cats won’t understand what is going on. Therefore, keep them separate until the wound has completely healed.
Ten Plus Days Post-Operation
Once it gets to ten days post-operation, you might be able to stop restricting your cat to an enclosed space. However, only do this if the wound has completely healed. Once your cat is venturing around your home and outside, as usual, any unhealed wounds can easily become infected or broken. This will undo all of the hard work you have put in trying to confine your cat.
If you are certain that the incision has healed, you can let your cat go about business as normal. If your cat had nylon stitches, it is at this point you should take your cat to the vet to have them removed. However, the majority of cats will have dissolvable stitches so this step isn’t required.
Benefits of Spaying a Cat
You might be wondering whether or not it is worth getting your female cat spayed. After all, it is a major surgical procedure and does take all of this additional care during recovery time. However, there are many benefits of spaying a cat, which includes:
- Preventing Pregnancy: Cats that have been spayed cannot fall accidentally pregnant, which happens frequently in non-neutered cats. Even if they’ve recently had kittens, note that cats can get pregnant while nursing and will go to no ends to find a mate. You cannot be certain they will avoid pregnancy unless a female cat is spayed, even if you have an indoor cat.
- Avoiding Heat Cycles: Dealing with a female cat in heat can be frustrating. My cat kept meowing and rubbing against everything which became annoying to live with. Other unwelcome signs include urine spraying, being increasingly demanding or clingy, and showing other attention-seeking behaviors. Getting your cat spayed means you won’t have to deal with these exhausting signs of heat every few weeks.
- Preventing Medical Conditions: Unspayed female cats are much more likely to develop cancers such as breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer. Moreover, infection of the uterus (known scientifically as pyometra) is much more common in unspayed cats. These are all life-threatening conditions, yet spaying removes these unnecessary health risks.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Having your cat spayed is a serious surgical procedure and you need to keep your cat confined post-operation to help healing, avoid infection, and keep them safe. For the first two days, your cat should be contained in a crate if possible, while indoor confinement is recommended for at least 10 days or as soon as the wound has healed.
Taking these appropriate precautions and caring for your cat at this time is essential. However, with your help, your cat will be fully recovered, happy, and playful again in no time.