If you're worried your cat may be in pain following her spay procedure, you're not alone. Postoperative pain is a common concern of pet owners when kitty is discharged after surgery. While some veterinarians send painkillers home with their patients, many consider them unnecessary for most young, healthy cats.
Routine Spay Results in Resilient Recovery
Your cat is put under general anesthesia for a routine spay procedure and given an analgesic to provide pain management during the operation and initial recovery. When the surgery is performed on young, healthy cats, the incision is very small and is closed using minimal suturing. These cats typically resume their normal, rambunctious activities within a couple of days, with no signs of postoperative pain and no need for painkillers. In fact, many veterinarians believe a little minor discomfort might help restrict your cat's activity, allowing her surgical site time to heal. Painkillers only mask that discomfort and prompt your furry ball of energy to begin tearing around the house before she's fully recovered.
When Extra Help Is Needed
Your vet may have recommended spaying your cat before her heat cycles begin. When a cat is in heat or pregnant, her reproductive organs are enlarged and engorged with blood. This makes the surgery slightly more involved and can require a longer incision. Vets can also make a longer incision in emergency spays performed due to pyometra, a potentially fatal uterine infection. The longer incision allows the doctor to carefully remove the uterus without contaminating the body. Spay situations that require more steps or longer incisions and more sutures can cause discomfort in your recovering kitty. In these cases, veterinarians often send home pain medications such as buprenorphine or meloxicam. Because these drugs are processed through the kidneys and liver, be sure to follow your veterinarian's dosage guidelines when giving them to your little patient.
Time Out, Kitty!
Most cats that undergo a routine spay procedure bounce back so quickly that they have a tendency to begin running and jumping sooner than they should. This is when you may need to practice some tough love as you take on the role of policing your furry bundle of energy. Encourage rest by keeping your kitty in a small, cozy area with no elevated surfaces to pounce from or temptations for mischief. Restrict running, jumping and roughhousing. If you discover your cat perched proudly atop a dresser, gently place her on the floor yourself instead of allowing her to jump down on her own. Excessive activity stretches and strains sutured incisions, which can result in discomfort and possible injury.
Keep the Communication Line Open for Recovery Support
When you pick up your cat from the clinic after her spay, be sure to ask about postoperative home care so you can give her the attention and compassion she deserves. Never give your cat human pain medications of any kind -- even over-the-counter acetaminophen is deadly to cats. If you believe your cat is experiencing discomfort, call her doctor. The veterinary staff can offer helpful advice and answer your questions, and the doctor will probably dispense any pain medication needed to get kitty over her recovery hurdle. Follow your veterinarian's recommendations, and your purring and bouncing bundle of joy will be back to herself in no time.