Cats are generally pretty routine-oriented creatures, and nothing throws a bigger curve ball into their daily regimens like surgery -- ugh. Definitely no fun at all for the little ones. One practically inevitable aspect of veterinary surgery is anesthesia, which can trigger some atypically grouchy behavior in many felines.
Anesthesia in cats post-surgery doesn't just fade away instantaneously the minute you bring your pet home, as convenient and wonderful as that would be. The process is occasionally a rather slow one, and may take up to two days in some cases. Because of this, it may be very helpful to isolate your cat in a dim, low-traffic and calm area of your home, at least for the first few hours or so. The fluff ball will probably feel a little dazed for a while.
According to the organization People for Animals, anesthesia may trigger hallucinogenic effects in cats after surgery, and therefore some behavior changes. If your cat is acting in an unusually hostile manner, growling is a definite possibility, along with hissing, as well. Your cat may behave in an uncharacteristically irritable manner, whether to human members of your household or to other pets. Don't be offended by your pet's sudden change in temperament, however. Remember, it's only temporary. Leave her alone for a while if you think she's feeling grouchy. Give her the necessary space and time to recover on her own.
Anesthesia's hallucinogenic properties may also cause your kitty to be significantly more fearful than her normal self. You may notice that she seems especially jumpy and easily startled, whether you attempt to stroke her back or even merely approach her. Even the sound of the refrigerator running or the simple flicking off a light may scare your poor kitty. A common feline reaction to fear is growling, so if your cat growls at you, understand that she's doing it because she's terrified and not because she suddenly despises you!
Along with growling, you also may notice that your cat seems upset by something, although you probably won't be sure exactly what. If you spot your kitty obsessively clawing or fighting with nonexistent items or beings that you can't see, don't call the poor thing crazy. Remember that she's going through the gradual process of kissing anesthesia goodbye. You also may observe oral or facial clawing. If you notice any lingering or severe effects of anesthesia in your pet, whether excessive growling or anything else under the sun, do not hesitate to notify your veterinarian regarding the matter.
- American Animal Hospital Association: AAHA Anesthesia Guidelines for Dogs and Cats
- People for Animals: Post Operative Instructions
- Alley Cat Allies: Protocols - Recovery
- Cornell University: Cat Anesthesia
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Anesthesia
- American Animal Hospital Association: Purr-fect Feline Anesthesia
- Sacramento SPCA: Frequently Asked Questions