My cat is getting spay surgery! Help!!
March 4, 2015 1:42 PM   Subscribe

My poor kitten(5 months in good health) is getting spayed on Friday! Omg I feel so bad for her. I do not know what to really expect. They have done preop tests and they said results were good. But so scared of the whole experience. How did it go for your cat?how long did it take for her coat to come back?
posted by barexamfreak to Pets & Animals (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My cat had an emergency spay at about 6-7 years old and it probably took 4 weeks for the shaved area to grow back. She wasn't eating much when I first took her home, but the next day my mom got her to eat some wet food off of her finger and from then on, her recovery went quickly and easily. She had chewed two of her stitches apart (just the string, not the skin!) before our followup appointment with the vet, but he said that was normal and removed the rest of the string. I kept an eye on her incision and if anything had been amiss, I'd have put her in a cone.
posted by soelo at 1:48 PM on March 4, 2015

There's nothing to freak out about. Kittens get spayed every day, and they're so much better off afterwards. I'm kind of jealous, actually. My kitten's recovery was very easy. She was sleepy, and then hilariously groggy and bad at calculating distance, and then good as new.
posted by bleep at 1:55 PM on March 4, 2015 [12 favorites]

Have a nice place for her to hide in for when she gets home. Those pop-up mesh laundry hampers are great, you can even get them at Dollar Tree. Just lay it on one side and put a towel or piece of fleece inside and pin or tape back the handles (or cut them off). We had a carpeted walk-in closet so ours hid back in there.

Just make sure you have food out and fresh water, and leave her alone if she wants to be quiet. Go in and check on her every once in a while. Often, after cats have surgery or come back from the vet, they will only come out at night when it's all quiet.

She was fine and came out eventually to eat, and now is very perky indeed! She rules the household. Before the surgery she was miserable, so you are doing the right thing!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:57 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

The cat will barely know it happened. Seriously, you're going to wonder what kind of alien she is as you try to stop her from climbing and jumping. At 5 months, it's a tiny incision, then she takes a longer-than-usual nap and then climbs up on top of your head.

Nothing to be afraid of.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:01 PM on March 4, 2015 [10 favorites]

Spaying is extremely routine surgery; there's no need to panic at all.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 2:07 PM on March 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

When my cat Buffy was spayed she spent the rest of that day being super sluggish and tired, then was pretty much back to normal the next day. If you have other cats, they might be freaked out by the smell (antiseptics, general vet's office smells) and hiss at the spayed cat, so you may need to separate them for the day so that the recovering cat can get some peace and quiet.

Have some basic cleaning supplies ready for the carrier you'll pick her up in - Buffy was confused enough right after her surgery that she peed herself on the way home, so I had to wipe out the carrier and clean the blanket I put in it. Other than that, it should be fairly noneventful. Buffy was jumping and running all over the house the day after her surgery, and I was much more worried than she was about the whole thing! Your kitten will do great!
posted by augustimagination at 2:10 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your kitten will be okay! She may be a little bit groggy right after the surgery, but will recover very quickly. If you have any other pets, make sure the kitten has a place to go and rest that the other pets can't access. Keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn't over-groom the incision sites - if she does, she may need an e-collar (a cone) to stop her. If she doesn't try to over-groom, she might be fine without the collar - but ask your vet.

Sometimes the vet will tell you to try and keep the kitten from running/jumping/playing too much for a few days after surgery. That's not a bad idea in theory, but with most kittens it's impossible to stop them from sprinting around madly. Don't worry if your kitten refuses to take it easy!
posted by insectosaurus at 2:13 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

My kittens (now 10 months) were spayed at 5.

I'm sure the details of the procedure will vary from place to place, but here was my experience:

The night before I gave them an early dinner, and skipped day-of breakfast. No food or drink before the operation. I dropped them off at the vet in the morning. They anesthetized them, and did the surgery. They called me midway through the day telling me they woke up but were okay, and groggy, and I should pick them up in the late afternoon.

They gave me instructions: wait until 6 before giving them water. If they seem okay with that, I could start feeding them again after whatever. This is about them maybe being pukey because of the anesthesia. They also gave me some antibiotics which I had to eyedropper into their mouths twice a day for a while. They didn't like that. They used dissolving stitches, so no further operations were needed but I still had a follow-up appointment two weeks later. During the meantime they were wearing cones to keep them from licking the sutures. I also wasn't supposed to play with them too rough. Plus I had to check up on the wounds now and then to make sure they weren't gross (infected). The cone could be off as long as I was around to keep them from tearing their stitches out. I was surprised at how easy it was to get them back in the cones each time. They didn't like them much, but they didn't really put up a fight. (Bergamot, Juniper, ensconsed in cones)

They also had fleas during this time, which I'm sure was really unpleasant in conjunction with the cone. Presumably it was this stress that prompted some litterbox issues, but that went back to normal immediately when the cones were gone. So keep an eye out for rogue poops.

At 5 months, it's a tiny incision, then she takes a longer-than-usual nap and then climbs up on top of your head.

My experience was more involved than this, it still wasn't like any kind of disaster. They are now happy and healthy, though maybe a little shy around strangers (which I really hope they grow out of).
posted by aubilenon at 2:15 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

how long did it take for her coat to come back?

I forgot to answer this one. They looked denuded for maybe a week, then fuzzy for a week, and then had a patch that just looked shorter for another month or so. The longer the hair on your cat, of course the longer it will take to fully grow back. AFAICT having a funny square of short hair on their soft, soft kitten underbellies did not affect their health or other aspects of their well-being in any way whatsoever.
posted by aubilenon at 2:17 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Did you ever see Arthur? Yeah, happy drunk Arthur is what your cat's going to be like when she gets home. Other than that, she'll be fine. Watch the stitches, give her water, put her someplace soft and warm to sleep it off.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 2:19 PM on March 4, 2015

I have a few friends who rescue and spay/neuter cats as young as 2 months old. They recover very fast with no ill-effects on their health, development or behavior. She'll be back to normal in no time.
posted by clearlydemon at 2:41 PM on March 4, 2015

I volunteered at a shelter for a while, so I saw a fair number of kittens get the snip. With general anesthesia there are always risks. But it's a routine surgery, and kittens at that age are so busy growing and so full of energy that they barely notice the surgery. Generally it is a very small incision that just gets glued up. Occasionally the bits they wish to remove are a bit more difficult to find, and there may be a bit more fuss. But generally your biggest worry by the second day is just hoping the kittens don't overdo it TOO much.
posted by wotsac at 2:59 PM on March 4, 2015

Zach got spayed the day I was moving from one apartment to another - I dropped him off the day before I moved, and they boarded him at the vets' an extra day so he wouldn't be all underfoot while we were moving.

So when I went to get him again, it was 36 hours after surgery - and he was feisty and strong enough that it took three people a full 15 minutes to get him into the cat carrier. (We ended up having to put it on one end and sort of pour him in.)

Your cat will be just fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:00 PM on March 4, 2015

Just chiming in to say don't worry -- I've had a lot of cats, all spayed and neutered, and none of them ever had a spot of trouble from the surgery. One of them had the surgery when she was somewhere south of 12 weeks old (don't remember exactly how old), and no problems at all. And the shaved area on the belly is actually pretty cute -- it gets sort of like suede when it starts to grow back.
posted by holborne at 3:05 PM on March 4, 2015

Nthing super no big deal.

One thing we noticed for our girls is that the pain pills the vet gave them actually made them kind of manic and crazy (even for kittens, which is saying something).

So if yours turns into a wild kitten after the first pain med, stop giving them. Ours seemed fine without it, or you could ask the vet for an alternative.
posted by ottereroticist at 3:23 PM on March 4, 2015

My female cat was spayed at the appropriate young age years ago, and other than her shaved belly and stitches, I didn't even notice her acting any differently. Your girl will be fine!
posted by hollisimo at 3:25 PM on March 4, 2015

We didn't get pain meds or a cone for our gal. She just came home at lunch (early appointment before work) and the clinic said keep her in the carrier until the end of the day. When we let her out and she was mellow for a couple days and then back to normal.

They shaved a quite large patch which was the best ever because I could pet her soft fur free belly without being near the incision.

When we caught and spayed the outside feral kitten who adopted us they had us keep her inside overnight and then let her free. She was back to normal right away and I would just try to spy on her grooming outside to make sure the incision site still looked ok. All was well with her and she had basically no after care because she has a strict No Touching rule.
posted by Swisstine at 3:31 PM on March 4, 2015

The tiny perfect cat of this house (approx. age: 8 months) was spayed two weeks ago. She came home pretty groggy the next day and snoozed away perhaps 22 of the ensuing 24 hours. The vets sent her home with a cone which was comically oversized for a seven-pound cat: she could not eat or drink with it on because she could not reach her bowls and I think it intruded into her peripheral vision, as she was constantly trying to back out of it. After a day of misery on her part, I chopped it down to half its size and all was well. Her coat is still returning.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:44 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

The only complication I had when I got Snow spayed was that she had some fluid swelling, probably from a popped internal suture (you can see the swelling in this pic). The vet used a syringe to suck out the fluid on the follow-up visit, and it was fine. Not sure how long it took for her fur to grow back to normal, but, as you can see on the picture she wasn't shaved bald, they just need to get it short enough to see what they're doing.

From what I've seen, being in heat seems a lot more uncomfortable than recovering from the spay procedure, if that's any comfort. You are saving your kitten & yourself from future stress.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:11 PM on March 4, 2015

Animals recovering from anaesthetics are the cutest! I know, not really fair because they don't know what's happening to them but it's true.

My two much older cats both had a general anaesthetic before Christmas and one of them had urinary incontinence for a few hours after I got her home. She was a bit confused about using the litter box, even when I put her in it a few times. You know how you have those times when you walk into a room and can't remember why you were going there? That was how she was acting. Eventually she did a massive wee, and slept through until the next morning and she was fine. That's probably the worst post op issue I've had with a cat.

So be prepared for some messiness, have some old towels around just in case. And some possible confusion. Have some nice quiet places for her to hole up if she wants to. Follow the vet's instructions. She'll be fine, this is routine for kittens.

This is much better for her and you in the long run (no heats! No accidental kittens!).
posted by Helga-woo at 4:24 PM on March 4, 2015

Thank you for being a responsible pet owner and spaying your cat despite your fears! You are doing a very good thing. Nthing that it's most likely going to be no big deal. All the cats and dogs I've ever had spayed have bounced back far more quickly than I would have expected (and the last time around, though it was a dog rather than a cat, she ended up with a little tattoo to indicate she'd been spayed! Our dog is such a badass ...)
posted by DingoMutt at 4:37 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

My amazing cat popped her stitches, which was the only problem with her surgery. Even that was a second trip to the vet and some antibiotics just to be sure. No cone, even!

Your kitty will do great, just look like a brined turkey for a couple of weeks.
posted by lydhre at 4:41 PM on March 4, 2015

Don't freak out! It's not a big deal.

Your cat feels less angst about this than you do.

The best thing that you can do for your kitty is to chill out, and pass along some good vibes her way.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 5:27 PM on March 4, 2015

Following her return home after surgery, Sam Katz did the cutest thing ever: she jumped on the coffee table, murped at us to get our attention, sat on her haunches like a meerkat and put her paws alongside her stitches while continuing to talk to us about her incision and experience, we presume. Just like LBJ. Echoing others in both the reassurances they offered and in thanking you for responsible pet ownership.
posted by carmicha at 5:51 PM on March 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

The only trouble I have ever had was a couple who wanted to lick their stitches. None needed pain meds and basically acted like nothing happened. In my life 5 females spayed, four males neutered.
posted by ThreeCatsBob at 5:58 PM on March 4, 2015

It's OK to be concerned! You love your kitty cat, and this is an operation, which is not entirely without risk. But I think others have really done well describing how their kitties have been no worse for the experience. Many things that are a big deal for us are not such a big deal for our pets. But I also wanted to share with you a few really excellent reasons for overcoming your (reasonable) fears of what your cat faces on Friday.

Female cats can get mammary cancer. It is the 3rd most common cancer in cats. 90% of mammary masses in cats are malignant. 90% of mammary cancers in cats metastasize. Most of the time, the cancer metastasizes to the lungs. Aggressive surgery is the best treatment, and prognosis is very poor.

But you can reduce your cat's risk of getting mammary cancer! If you have your kitty cat spayed before she is 6 months old, you can reduce the risk by 90%. Even if you wait a year to have her spayed, the risk is still reduced by 86%.

No operation, no anesthesia is completely risk free. But having your cat spayed significantly reduces her risk of cancer! Many years ago, I was given an unwanted female Siamese from a cattery owner. She was fully grown when I received her, had never been spayed, and was never bred. Even though I spayed her then, I still lost her to mammary cancer. It spread extremely rapidly, and it was all over within 2 months, too fast and aggressive for treatment. She was a sweet cat and a good friend. I miss her, and I wish I could have helped her stay with us longer.
posted by Seppaku at 6:10 PM on March 4, 2015

I had a kitten neutered but who then became infected. Despite my panicked very-early-morning call, I was told to come in when the regular vet was available (no kitty er necessary), they gave him a shot for pain and antibiotics because he wouldn't take the pills, and he came home very stoned and inclined to walk into things. Even when it goes poorly, it's not that bad.
posted by mchorn at 6:11 PM on March 4, 2015

Some anecdata: when our youngest cat ate something that had to be surgically removed, his abdomen was shaved and did not regrow fully until spring (this happened in October). He has semi-long tufty fur on his tummy. He had a rough time with the incision, in that he would. not. leave. it. alone, and we had to use the Comfy Cone (a soft, nylon squooshy cone) for at least a month. We removed it so he could bathe and eat, but only under strict supervision, because left to his own devices for even a moment and he would be licking his tummy. I much prefer that cone to the big plastic ones - it works with their collars and it seems to be easier to sleep in.

And our middle cat came home from the shelter with her spay surgery scar and shave still visible - the scar was almost invisible a month later but her belly fur did take some time to grow in. I don't remember any issues at all with hers.

P.S. When the youngest cat came home he was almost comatose with the leftover drugs and I was convinced he was going to die. He's fine. But that first night was rough, because it's hard to see a normally active pet move around like it's been drugged (which it has).
posted by Nyx at 7:38 PM on March 4, 2015

I fostered a young cat a few months ago who came to me direct from getting spayed. I was instructed to give her a couple of drops of liquid painkiller in her food for two days, and that was all. She never over-licked her incision or anything like that, and she was up for chasing toys within a week.
posted by zadcat at 7:42 PM on March 4, 2015

Just here to echo that this should be no big deal and your kitty will be fine. I see many shelter pets spayed/neutered weekly and they all take it like total champs. Love on kitty more if you like (cuz, why not???) . . . but all will be well and kitty will be better for it :)
posted by ainsley at 8:29 PM on March 4, 2015

Really for us to best help you, we need additional information: A picture of your 5 month kitten!!!
posted by aubilenon at 8:33 PM on March 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

This was our two in the back seat of the car coming home from the shelter shortly after they'd both been spayed. Bella (on the right) is the mother, and, according to the shelter folks, was about 16 months old; Penny was about 8 months.

Poor Penny had a slightly rough time coming out of the anesthetic, and stood up in her carrier wobbling and yowling pitifully all the way home. Bella had an easier time coming out and just lay down. They both recovered fine, once we got them inside and they could take refuge behind the sofa.

It's now six years later and they're both healthy, happy, playful, confident, and affectionate. The only lasting effect (aside from them not going into heat) is that Penny still (still! six years later!) has a blue spot on her belly from the surgical glue. I call her my Blue-Bellied Sneetch.

Also: Cats of MeFi group on Flickr. Please everybody add your furfaces to the group…

posted by Lexica at 9:20 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Our young 'un, Morrigan, was spayed at right about the age yours is, and I had similar fears (she's just so LITTLE!). Like many others here, she was groggy for a day or so--and that didn't stop her from wanting to jump up on things, including the high back of the chair that is her preferred sleeping spot. She was unstoppable. And she was perfectly fine.

(We got pre-loaded syringes of pain medicine from the vet that we could just slip into the corner of her mouth, which is vastly easier than pills, so if you can go that route, do. Morrigan never really indicated that she was in any pain but we kept up with pain meds for a few days afterwards just in case.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:49 AM on March 5, 2015

You love your kitten and that is good! Here is how you can help her through the operation, and set some good patterns for the rest of her life:

Animals get more scared of going to the vet if they see *we* are scared. Kitten will be watching you as she'd watch her mother, to see if the new strangeness means danger. The best thing you can do for her right now is to be calm and gentle and in charge. If you don't make a big deal of it, your kitten will be more inclined to see the whole thing as an adventure.

So give her a lot of love, and put something that smells like you in the carrier-- a sweatshirt you've slept in? A towel you've used for a few days? That way, when you have to leave her at the vet's, she will have something familiar and reassuring with her. (It's always a wrench to leave them, but you are doing the best thing for her and you should feel good about that.)

When you get her home, as soon as it's OK for her to eat, see if you can tempt her with a favourite food. Afterwards, as others have said, she is likely to recover quickly; just keep an eye on her.

And when you get her home, may we please see some pictures?
posted by Pallas Athena at 11:35 AM on March 5, 2015

My cat Kitten was spayed at 6 months. It all went fine although she freaked out in her cage as soon as we got her home. The stitches didn't stop her leaping and jumping and hanging off the clothes horse later that evening much to my horror. A cone of shame would have been useful to stop her messing with the stitches though.

Another cat of mine had hers done on her side and the fur didn't take more than a month or so to grow back. She had no problems and was on a plane a few days later.
posted by poxandplague at 2:23 AM on March 6, 2015

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