So, you're getting your cat neutered. Drew Carey and Bob Barker thank you for helping control the pet population. Swap out your cat's litter with shredded newspaper after the surgery until he's healed. The transition back to normal litter may be slow. Be patient.
You're Not Out of the Woods Yet
Cats bury their waste in the wild. It's a habit easily exploited with an indoor litter box. Cat litter is normally a straightforward part of cat ownership (or stewardship), but neutering complicates things a little bit.
Your cat may look like he's fine after his surgery, but he's still healing. Litter dust or other particles can get into his wound while he's using the litter box and cause infection. They can also cause irritation that leads to licking and chewing, which also leads to an infection or an open wound.
See You in the Funny Pages
The best way to help your cat after neutering surgery is to swap out his litter with shredded newspaper for at least a week. If you have multiple cats, use newspaper in every cat box, even if your freshly neutered cat doesn't normally use all of them. It's better to err on the side of caution.
Shredded newspaper cuts down the risk of infection, but you still have to watch and make sure your cat's on the mend. If the area around his stitches or glue—yes, sometimes it's done with a special glue—gets irritated or opens up, call your vet.
Ask your vet about other dust-free litters, some of which are marketed for post-surgery use.
Mix and Match
Some cats are finicky about their litter and won't take kindly to your suddenly switching brands, let alone materials.
If you've got time before the neutering surgery, mix your cat's normal litter with shredded newspaper. Start with a 3:1 ratio of old to new, then 1:1, then 1:3, before switching over completely. This gives your cat time to adjust. A day or two between each change is ideal.
Remember, cats are creatures of habit who need time to adjust to novelty, particularly when it comes to food and litter. A sudden change can spur conflict, which usually ends with you cleaning up your cat's waste from somewhere it shouldn't be.
As your cat mends, it may be tempting to switch back to his old litter at once. Don't do it. Wait until your cat fully recovers.
It's probably best to switch back to the old litter in phases—the same way you introduced it, if you planned properly. If your cat seems receptive, you can speed up the interval between steps.
Litter issues are secondary to your cat's recovery. Watch him closely, particularly the first few days after surgery. Neutering can make litter box use somewhat painful, but that shouldn't last more than a few days.
If you're concerned about anything, call your vet as soon as possible.
- UC Davis Veterinary Medicine: Spaying or Neutering Your Cat
- The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Spay Neuter Surgery
- VetInfo: Caring for Your Kitten Post Neuter Surgery
- Cornell Feline Health Center: Spaying and Neutering
- Standford Cat Network: Solving Litterbox Problems
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Caring for Your Cat or Dog after Surgery [PDF]
- Watauga Humane Society: Spay and Neuter Program
- Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
- Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine: Veterinary Teaching Hospital [PDF]
- Colorado State University: Early Sterilization in Dogs and Cats
- MarVistaVet.net: Neutering the Male Cat
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine: Early Spay/Neuter—An Overview
- Pet Informed: Veterinary Advice Online—Neutering Cats
- John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images