If you've seen your cat with tape stuck to her feet, you know how insanely determined she becomes to remove it. Most cats react to stitches the same way. If kitty's paws are sutured due to declawing or injury, you must protect her stitches to prevent infection and delayed recovery.
If your kitty has only minimal interest in removing her stitches, properly wrapped bandages should deter her. If you have no experience wrapping paws, ask your vet for instructions. A liquid bandage can also help. These products are available over the counter and form a protective, breathable barrier over incision sites. Changes bandages quickly and remove them at least twice per day to check for signs of infection.
The most effective way to keep your cat from pulling out her stitches is to fit her with an e-collar, which is also known as a cone or Elizabethan collar. Your veterinarian can size one to fit your cat, or you can buy one in most pet stores and size it yourself. Wearing an e-collar may make it difficult for your cat to eat or drink. If this is the case, try raising her food and water bowl or look for a shorter collar. Most cats will get the hang of it quickly.
Try putting baby socks on your cat. This may help if your cat is young or very easygoing. Some cats will have a big problem with socks and will quickly pull them off. Another option is to use a bitter no-chew spray to deter your cat from licking, biting or pulling out her stitches. These products taste disgusting to stop pets from licking wounds and bandages.
When to Call Your Vet
Extremely determined cats may find a way around e-collars and bandages. If your cat seems obsessed with her stitches, consult your vet. Her wound may be mildly infected and itching. Also, if your cat manages to pull out one of more stitches, even if her wound looks healed, call your vet. Early removal of stitches greatly increases your cat's risk of infection. It also delays healing considerably. Don't wait to see if the wound continues healing on its own.
Sandra Ketcham has nearly two decades of experience writing and editing for major websites and magazines. Her work appears in numerous web and print publications, including "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "The Tampa Bay Times," Visit Florida, "USA Today," AOL's Gadling and "Kraze Magazine."