The feline spay is a routine surgery practiced by vets, shelters and animal hospitals around the country. While spaying is generally a safe operation, it is somewhat invasive and physically taxing for your kitty. It may take a few days for your pet to act like herself again after surgery.
Pretty much all female cats experience some after-effects from a spay surgery. The veterinarian must place your cat under anesthesia and make an incision of several inches along her abdomen. Both the uterus and ovaries are removed during the operation, so you can imagine how strange your kitty feels when she wakes up afterwards. The incision is sutured shut and the vet will ask you to return within the next few weeks for a followup appointment.
Once you bring your kitty home, expect her to collapse on the nearest soft surface and pass out for a few hours. She will be very tired for at least 24 hours due to the leftover anesthesia and physical exhaustion from the surgery, so expect her to sleep during most of this period, according to Operation Pets. She will also have to adjust to the lack of hormones that were produced by her uterus and ovaries before they were removed. While some cats are willing to eat on the same day as the surgery, don't expect your cat to have an appetite until the next day.
While your kitty's lethargy and non-existent appetite are concerning, you shouldn't start worrying unless the behavior continues for several days. If your cat still rejects food 36 hours after being discharged, then there may be a problem. Her energy levels should be back to normal, or close to normal, after 24 hours. If she is still sleeping much more than normal and seems reluctant to move, you should call your vet and describe the problem to him. While spaying is a common and safe surgery, there is a possibility of complications or infection, so it is important to get your kitty back to the vet if her condition does not improve within a day.
There are a few things you can do to reduce your cat's chances of infection and help her recover from the trauma of surgery faster. Don't bathe your cat for at least 10 days and keep her indoors during the week after surgery, according to San Francisco SPCA. You may want to completely separate her from other animals for the first couple days in a secluded room to give her time to rest. Put a cone collar on your cat if she keeps licking or biting at the wound. She might rip out the sutures or introduce bacteria that could cause infection. Be sure to ask your vet for a cone collar if he did not give you one when your kitty was discharged.
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.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.