Anesthesia Recovery and Cats

Cats need time and attentive care as they recover from anesthesia.
i Black Cat image by Chris Kincaid from

Your cat may need anesthesia for a number of reasons throughout her lifetime. Teeth cleanings and extractions, sterilization and injury repair are just a few procedures that require anesthetic drugs in felines. Give your fur kid special care after anesthesia to help her recover in no time.

Waking From Anesthesia

More than likely, when your cat awakes from being anesthetized, she will be in the recovery area of your veterinarian's office or veterinary hospital. Caregivers who work in these facilities will keep a close watch on your pet to make sure she is coming out of the drug's effect without complications. They'll monitor her breathing and heart rate, and keep herwarm and comfortable. As the effects of the anesthesia drugs gradually fade, your feline will be groggy, acting as if she is intoxicated. Because she will be confined in a cage at this time, your cat will be protected from falls and from running into objects that could harm her. Depending on the type of procedure your fur friend had, your veterinarian may send her home after a few hours or require her to stay the night.

The First Hours at Home

Whether you bring your feline home the day of her surgery or the next day, you will need to keep a close eye on her as she continues to recover from anesthesia. Each animal metabolizes medications differently, so how your pet reacts will be hard to predict. Some cats come to easily within a few hours while others seem drugged for days.

The first few hours at home will be crucial. By keeping her in a warm, you will eliminate chills and trembling that are common after anesthesia. Check on your kitty frequently to monitor her recovery and intervene if any problems occur.

Keeping Your Recovering Cat Safe

If you have ever had surgery, you know how unstable you feel as you come out of the influence of anesthesia. So you understand the importance of protecting your pet after surgery. By keeping your fur kid in an enclosed area, you will minimize her ability to wander into danger. In addition, making sure there are no elevated objects for her to jump on is important in preventing her from a fall. If you have steps, you will need to carry your kitty because she will be too groggy to attempt them on her own. Large bowls of water pose the threat of choking or even drowning to your drugged feline, so it is vital that you limit water until she is over the influence of anesthesia. As you kitty gets back to normal, limit her activity and do not allow her to play roughly with other animals for 10 days to two weeks following her procedure.

Return to Food and Water

Another uncomfortable side effect of anesthesia is vomiting. Because this is very common in cats, restricting food and water after surgery will help prevent the problem. When you bring your kitty home from the veterinarian, monitor her for about two hours before offering a small, shallow dish of water and about half the amount of food you typically feed her. If she eats and does not vomit, you can offer more food to her in several hours. By her second day home, you can place your pet back on her regular diet if she is not having any problems keeping her food down.

Signs of Complications

Though it may seem overwhelming, helping your cat recover from the effects of anesthesia is not difficult. Being there for her as she gets back to herself will help to speed along her recovery. So will noticing any potential problems that may occur. Though not likely, some pets do have bad reactions from surgery and the drugs involved. If your cat develops signs and symptoms such as difficulty breathing, persistent lethargy, excessive vomiting or bleeding from her surgery site, call your veterinarian immediately to ward off any life-threatening problems.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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