How Does Pain Medication Affect Kittens After Surgery?

"I am never letting you put me in the carrier again."
i Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Your fuzzy buddy will be slightly loopy when he gets home from the hospital. Not only will he be recouping from anesthesia, he'll also have some pain medicine in his system. He might be a little anxious and need some extra care while he's on his meds.

Internal Reactions

Pain medications act on certain types of neuroreceptors, somewhat numbing your kitten’s reaction to pain. They also affect his other bodily functions, sometimes causing constipation, reduced heart rate and lack of appetite. Because painkillers dramatically affect your four-legged friend’s body, it is very important to follow your veterinarian's instructions carefully. Even if Max acts like he’s in pain, don’t up his dosage, and don't give him human pain medications, which can be toxic to felines.

Physical Behaviors

If you’ve ever had any kind of medical procedure, odds are you’ve had a strong painkiller to help you get through it. You feel fuzzy while you're on certain medications, and your purring pal feels the same sorts of things. He’ll be disoriented with his eyes glazed over, he might seem to not recognize you, he might even fall over as soon as he stands up, or he might walk into a wall.

Although it’s truly gut-wrenching to watch your furry buddy struggle, he’ll get through it in no time. These strange behaviors are perfectly normal while he's on special types of medicine.

Different Noises

If Max is typically quiet, you’ll probably be surprised that he has so much to say on the car ride home from the hospital. He’ll “talk” your ear off making all kinds of low-pitch howling sounds. Most likely he’s probably not in pain, since his pain meds are taking care of that. Rather, excessive meowing can just be a side effect of his temporary high.

You also might notice that Max is purring excessively, which is odd considering he just spent time in the clinic. It’s true that he's probably happy to see you, but purring is also a way to self-soothe. He’s calming himself down after his stressful ordeal and signaling to his brain that even though his meds make him feel funny, he's really OK.

Aggressive Behavior

Kittens recovering from anesthesia and hopped up on pain meds can be slightly aggressive toward other animals, and you don’t want a fight breaking out. Keep all other pets away from him, including additional felines and the family dog.

As much as your cuddly buddy loves you, he’s not quite himself at the moment, and he might hiss or growl at you. As soon as you get him home, he’ll probably crawl under the bedroom bureau and stay there, glaring at everyone walking by.

Leave him alone, but stay nearby. His pain meds are making him a little delirious. Instead of reaching toward him, talk to him, and gradually put your hand out. If he sniffs your hand, he’s welcoming your touch. Slowly reach toward him as long as he seems content.

Making Him Feel Comfortable

Because poor Max won’t quite be himself while he’s taking painkillers, you’ll need to make some modifications to his home life. The strong medicine can alter his judgment when jumping, walking around or heading to the litter box.

Make him a kitty-safe haven in one room, where he can’t get hurt. Give him his own litter box, food and water bowls, as well as a fluffy bed right on the ground. That way everything he needs will be close by, so he won’t have to walk too far or jump on anything to get what he needs.

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.

the nest