Cat Spay Recovery & Aftercare

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Your furbaby is finally old enough to undertake her spay surgery. You might be wondering how to help her feel as comfortable as possible once she’s arrived back home.

Most cats recover quickly and without any complications. Cats usually heal quickly, but you can help ease the process by being informed and knowing what to expect. Here we’ll discuss feeding your cat post-surgery, activity levels, warning signs to look out for, and more.

Table of Contents

Why spay your cat?

Research indicate that spaying your kitten early on can prevent uterine disorders and breast cancer. To add, it avoids early pregnancy for your kitten, which can alter her tiny body. Kittens can become pregnant as young as 4 months old. And since cats are pregnant for 2 months, a cat can have up to 5 litters of kittens every year. To best care for the cats we already have and love, we need to make sure they don’t overpopulate our ability to provide safe and loving homes for them. Spaying and neutering is one of the best tools to accomplish this goal.

How to spay your cat?

Talk to your local vet, or find a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in your community by searching the Petsmart database for a provider near you.

Anesthesia Effects after spaying

After surgery, your cat will be coming down from the anesthesia. If you have gone through surgery before, you may know how this feels. Your cat may feel sluggish and low-energy for up to twenty-four hours after their anesthesia was given. However, some kittens react to anesthesia by becoming hyperactive once they wake up. 

Additionally, cats are unaware of why they feel lousy. In all likelihood, your adult cat may keep to themselves and sleep more for a few days. Also, it’s important to note that they’re unable to regulate their body temperature entirely during this time, so keeping their environment at room temperature is a must. 

Anesthesia can also be the source of your cat’s sudden movements and sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights. During this time, it would help to keep them in a pleasant, cozy, and quiet environment apart from your kids or other pets. 

A cat curled up asleep.

Medications for Cat Spay Recovery

Your vet will give your cat an injected medication shortly after their surgery. This medication is to prevent any pain your cat would have otherwise felt. The drug lasts for up to thirty-six hours after their surgery. 

Household medications containing acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin are known to cause complications in cats. Do not give your cat any pain medications that you didn’t get from your vet. If your cat shows signs of severe pain after thirty-six hours or can visibly see her stitches have ripped, you should seek your veterinarians’ attention. 

Your vet may recommend a pet-safe topical medication such as this derma gel. This is similar to Neosporin but helping heal minor cat wounds.

Derma Gel for Pets Derma Gel for Pets

This vet-recommended gel has a 2 in 1 Intensive Skin Care + Protective Barrier effect.

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06/03/2023 07:58 am GMT
A light colored tabby kitten looks beyond the camera with abnormally wide eyes.

Food and Water for Cat Spay Recovery

Your cat might feel nauseous because of the anesthesia. Let’s further discuss how to care for your cat after spaying concerning feeding.

Once you arrive home with your cat, see to it that she drinks a bit of water. This will help aid the healing process. But as we all know, cats aren’t vast lovers of water, so a little goes a long way. Don’t force anything. 

As for their food intake, give them a quarter or half of the portion they usually eat. Please make sure the food is somewhere that’s easily accessible. 

If your cat throws up after attempting to eat, it’s okay to take away their food and try the next day again.

Not having an appetite is entirely normal. After around forty-eight hours, if your cat still hasn’t eaten anything, you should consider giving your veterinarian a call. 

Please do not give your cat any table scraps, milk products, or try changing their diet during this time. This can disrupt their healing process. After around one week, you should be okay to change their diet if need be. 

A gray cat with yellow eyes looks grouchy.

Cat Spay Recovery: protecting The Surgery Site

Once you arrive home with your cat, a couple of reminders are very important to assist in a speedy recovery. 

First off, do not let them lick or bite the area. This could create an infection if the stitches rip. 


The veterinarian should give you an e-Collar to prevent ripped stitches. If you don’t see them licking or biting, you can take the e-Collar off because it might be uncomfortable. Regardless, it would be best to keep a close eye on your cat.

If your vet did not provide a collar, you can make a simple one with a paper plate. Cut from one side to the center of the plate, and then cut a circle out from the center of the plate to go around their neck. Gently place this around the cat’s head, and staple or tape in place. A paper plate collar has the benefit of being easily replaceable if it gets wet or dirty.

how long should a cat wear a cone after being Spayed?

After being spayed, your cat will need to wear an e-collar for five to seven days. However, this number can vary greatly. Consider the age of your cat – younger cats may heal more quickly and require a cone for only a few days. Older cats who are healing slowly may need to wear the cone for ten days or longer.

How is the surgical site? If the wound is itchy and bothersome, keep a close eye on it and keep the cone on your cat until she no longer seems bothered or likely to lick the site. If your cat or kitten is very active, this may stretch the wound open and slow down healing. The cone is there to ensure healing and protect the site from being bit, licked, and scratched. Keep the cat cone on until the site has healed enough not to bother your cat.

Recovery suit

If your cat is not happy about wearing the collar, a recovery suit may be a better choice for her. This item of clothing is like a vest for your feline that will cover her abdomen, preventing licking or gnawing at her uncomfortable wound site. But unlike the collar, it won’t be as in her way while she eats, sleeps, and interacts with her environment.

Cat Recovery Suit for Abdominal Wounds Cat Recovery Suit for Abdominal Wounds

This post-surgery recovery suit will keep kitty warm if she was shaved. It has comfortable elastic bands around the neck and limbs.

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06/03/2023 09:15 am GMT

As far as the litter box goes, make sure it is accessible without a need for jumping. This way she can access it without tearing any stiches or hurting her wound. Also be sure that she can access it with a collar on and that she has enough room in the box to do her business if she needs to wear her collar for a few days.

If you are using a litter box with a lid, you may want to remove the lid temporarily. If your box is inside a closet or piece of cat furniture, be sure the opening is large enough for kitty to enter and exit comfortable, or move the box out of the enclosed space until your cat is healed.

Cat Spay Recovery- Activities

There are a couple of activities you should make sure your cat is not doing during this time, including running around or moving around a great deal. This also could increase their chances of ripping the stitches. Limit their activities for seven to ten days for a full recovery.

Likewise, keep them inside in a dry and clean environment. As mentioned previously, make sure they’re kept warm to ensure comfort. 

Cats love to jump high, but it is to their benefit to discourage them from exerting themselves that way at least for a week. 

Warning Signs to Look Out For

Although I mentioned earlier, most cats recover quite smoothly; it’s always helpful to know the warning signs to be on the lookout for.

If your cat is displaying any of the following, seek your veterinarian’s assistance quickly:

  • Pale gums
  • Decreased appetite after anesthesia has worn off
  • Unnatural breathing patterns
  • Difficulty going to the bathroom
  • Bleeding or pus from the incision area
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Kitten Spay Recovery

Kitten spay recovery generally looks the same as a grown cat with a couple of differences. 

One main difference is that you can expect your kitten to recover quicker from the anesthesia than older cats.  Kittens have faster metabolisms because they are in a phase of life with fast growth. This means that a recently spayed kitten’s wound will heal faster, anesthesia will wear off sooner, and the kitten will want to be more active than a recently spayed cat.

All other recovery procedures mentioned earlier apply to your kitten as they due to an older cat. 

Watch a day in the life as three foster kittens get spayed and neutered, and come home afterwards to recover.

Choosing to spay your cat or kitten is a wise and loving choice. Chances are, your kitty will recover beautifully and you won’t have to worry about caring for kittens anytime soon.

Cat Spay Recovery & Aftercare

Kelsey Madison

Kelsey Madison is a cat lover, fostering enthusiast, part time vet tech & writer. She has fostered close to 300 animals over the last 10+ years, and currently has 3 beautiful tabby cats who love to stick their faces in her morning lattes. She is passionate about helping others develop a deeper understanding of their beloved felines and learn more about fostering.