Can Female Cats Lick Their Incision Open After Spay?

by Melodie Anne Coffman, Demand Media Google
    Cats need to groom, but keep her away from her stitches.

    Cats need to groom, but keep her away from her stitches.

    Hopefully, getting spayed is the most major surgical procedure your furry darling will ever have to go through. When you get her home, she'll be groggy and seem upset, but she'll return to her sweet mannerisms within a few days. Although she'll want to wash herself, don't let her lick her stitches.

    Licking

    As soon as Misty gets home, she'll probably wander to her usual pillow, stick her leg behind her head and take a peek at her belly. She knows it feels different down there, and she wants to know what is going on. Her first instinct will be to lick around the incision to remove any debris. Also, the area smells odd and she'll want to comfort herself by putting her own scent back on her body. She can clean her face, paws and other areas around the sutures, but she shouldn't lick the wound itself.

    Infection

    Feline tongues are rough, and if she licks too close to her incision site, one of her sutures could stick to her tongue and she could rip it out. If this happens shortly after surgery, the wound probably hasn't yet healed, and it can could open up. If the wound opens up it is susceptible to infection, further delaying her overall recovery.

    Prevention

    Your veterinarian will probably suggest putting an Elizabethan collar, or E-collar, on Misty for a few days. These cone- or lampshade-shape collars allow your cuddly friend to eat, drink, use the potty and clean her paws, but they limit her ability to access her surgical site.
    Some vets offer different types of neck brace collars that have the same purpose. A neck brace wraps around Misty's neck, keeping it stiff and in place so she can't reach her belly.
    An application of bitter spray designed for wounds can also deter her from sniffing around that area. Your veterinarian's office or local pet store should sell these types of deterrent products.

    Warning Signs

    While Misty's wound is healing, you might notice a small lump forming under her stitches. This is normal and is caused by scar tissue during the healing process.
    However, if the incision site starts to bleed or leak pus, contact your veterinarian right away. These are warning signs of a possible infection that could require further treatment.
    Additionally, her stomach might be a little woozy after surgery, and she might throw up when you get her home or the day after. If she vomits profusely or several days after her procedure, let your vet know. Some infections are internal and aren't always visible.

    About the Author

    Melodie Anne Coffman has been writing for various online and print publications since 1996, specializing in human and animal nutrition. After receiving her master's degree in food science and human nutrition, she opened up her own nutrition consulting business in the New England area.

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