It is expected of a cat owner that takes care of the cat’s well-being, and cat health is something that every owner needs to place first. That being said, most cat owners decide to spay or neuter a cat in order to prolong its life.
Spaying or neutering is a delicate surgery that will change a cat’s life, however, for the better. Outdoor cats are those that often undergo a procedure in order to maintain a healthy life.
Cat care after the surgery is essential since it concerns you and your cat only at home, so it is better to be prepared for anything that may go wrong. For example, a cat not eating after spay is not a huge problem, and you can help your cat.
However, if you’re cat is not getting better days and days after surgery, you should contact your vet and have your cat examined because she may need other meds.
Keep reading as we’ve discussed some reasons why your cat doesn’t eat after spay and what you can do about it.
Why Doesn’t My Cat Eat After Spay?
A spay surgery is also called an ovariohysterectomy, a procedure done on female cats to remove the ovaries and the uterus. What does that procedure do? It sterilizes cats so they cannot have kittens anymore.
On the other hand, neuter surgery is a procedure performed on male cats; it is a safe and effective way of preventing the production of kittens.
The first day of surgery is often the hardest, and you need to know that you must keep your cat confined after spay at least 10 to 14 days.
It is expected that your cat doesn’t eat after surgery since she feels discomfort. She needs to be without food 12 hours at least before surgery, and the vet may recommend that you don’t feed your cat 12 to 24 hours after the surgery.
However, the cat not eating after spay may mean that she has a lack of appetite due for many reasons, and we will now discuss why your dear feline friend refuses food.
1. Elizabethan Collar
The Elizabethan collar serves as protection for the cat’s incision because cats are used to licking and scratching their body. The surgical incision should heal properly without a cat getting in the way.
Most cats won’t chew on their sutures and incision sites; however, it can be helpful as it will prevent cats from touching them. My cat Luna, for example, couldn’t help herself, and she tried to lick the incision many times, so I needed to stop her from doing that. It was painful to watch.
Since you put the Elizabethan collar on your cat due to a spaying incision, your cat might feel trapped and stressed and lose appetite.
If you noticed that your cat has tried to eat but eventually lost interest, try taking off the e-collar and see how your cat behaves after that.
Similar effect a cage can cause on your cat, especially if she hasn’t been used to that. That can lead to avoiding the litter box, water, and food.
If your cat doesn’t eat and drink water for a long time, she can become dehydrated, which is not something unproblematic, and it is like starvation, and it can cause permanent damage to your cat’s organs.
If you’ve noticed that your cat is not drinking water after spay surgery, you can check if she’s dehydrated or not by pulling the loose skin behind the neck upwards. Do it as gently as possible.
If your cat is dehydrated, the skin goes down very slowly or forms some kind of a tent, which is even worse. However, your cat is hydrated well if the skin is back down in seconds.
The anesthesia needs to be worn off before your cat tries to drink water since it will make her not have control over her epiglottis (a cartilage flap that stops water and food from entering the lungs).
After the anesthesia is completely gone, try giving her water. You can also give her wet food on her paw, so she can smell it and sense it, then eat it.
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After the anesthetic has worn off, especially if there is no follow-up treatment, your cat will be in pain, which will probably lead to loss of appetite.
In some cases, the endotracheal tube during surgery may cause a sore throat. A cat with a sore throat will have trouble drinking and eating due to the pain caused by it.
This is the case when a cat not eating after spaying has nothing to do with her loss of appetite but with the impossibility of eating.
You can always contact your vet so your cat can have a proper post-surgery treatment plan.
4. Stomach Problems
Imagine that you don’t eat for 12 hours, then you have surgery, and you’ve had a lot of anesthetics; of course, your stomach would be upset, let alone your cat’s stomach, after the spay surgery.
Your cat’s stomach may be upset and not accepting any food, and it is vital that you don’t force your cat to eat after the procedure. It would be great if you get a prescription diet from a wet so your cat can heal properly without having any stomach problems.
If your cat is not eating 24 hours after the spay procedure, that is normal; however, if she hasn’t eaten in days, it is time to contact the vet.
General anesthesia can cause nausea to your cat, but it wears off slowly during hours post-op; however, each cat is different, and not every cat responds to anesthesia the same.
How does it function? The anesthetic process begins with an injection that will sedate your cat for the time the surgery lasts. In order for your cat to be anesthetized while the procedure is going on, oxygen is mixed with anesthetic gas and released through a breathing tube.
This injection can have effects on your cat’s stomach, causing nausea which leads to loss of appetite. That anesthetic gas can be released from the cat’s system through the oxygen supply. If the recovery time is going slow, that means that the oxygenation is poor.
The anesthetic should get out of the cat’s system 36 hours post-surgery, and after that cat should be able to eat.
What Should I Do If My Cat Is Not Eating After Being Spayed?
If your vet gave you postoperative instructions, you should follow them. That includes putting a cat in a small room or a crate to avoid running, climbing stairs, jumping, strict rest, keeping an E-collar so the cat cannot lick the wound, and monitoring the incision site daily several times.
The cat should be able to eat after 36- 40 hours since it should already feel better, but you must know that you mustn’t force her to eat.
When your cat gets home, level a small amount of food and water in the prepared room where your cat will rest after the spay so she can eat when she feels the hunger.
However, if you’ve noticed that your cat is not eating after 24 hours, you can try these tips to make her want to eat:
• Small portions of food: First and foremost, don’t push her to eat as much as she ate before surgery; it is entirely expected that her regular diet won’t be back immediately. If your cat has no appetite, try giving her small portions of food a few times a day to encourage her.
• Recommended diet: Cats tend to get fat after the spaying, so it is recommended that you monitor your cat’s diet and put together a healthy routine that will go for a long time. Food that is full of energy and nutrients.
• Be by her side: Surgery is a traumatic experience for your cat, and she needs you to be with her, not leaving her alone for long periods of time. Be with her, especially if you see her going to her food or water bowl. My cat usually sleeps alone and prefers it that way; however, after the surgery, she would sleep with me; I guess she also needed company and avoided spending time alone.
• Try feeding your cat with your hand: The surgery wasn’t a pleasant experience for your cat, we don’t need to emphasize that, and during this time, she may become a bit distrustful, so feeding your cat with your hand might encourage her to want food and feel comfort. Before you place a small amount of food on your fingers, wash your hands. Try rubbing it against the cat’s mouth so she can sense it, oooor if that doesn’t work, place it on the cat’s paws; she won’t resist licking it off.
• Try other cat food: We know that cats love their routines, and when they’re eating something for a long time, they get used to it and only eat that. However, your cat might want to try something different after the surgery, so it is up to you which new food you’ll give your cat or make some homemade recipes in order to encourage her to eat.
• Meds: When everything above doesn’t go as planned, you are still left with one problem, and that is how to get your cat to eat. A cat not eating after spay is not a big deal, but you need to go to the vet and get an appetite stimulant. Your cats need energy after the surgery, so she needs to eat.
What Are The Risks For A Cat Not Eating After Surgery?
The spay surgery will affect each cat differently, but it is essential that you monitor your cat’s behavior during that time. It will be strange to see your cat acting differently than she used to behave; believe me, I know, but it is not a reason to panic.
Your cat will gradually return to her normal routine, usual diet, and drinking habits. This might take several days, but each day it will get better.
However, if you see that your cat is not doing better, she doesn’t eat and drink for several days, that means something is wrong. This can lead to a fatty liver syndrome, also known as Hepatic Lipidosis.
Fatty Liver Syndrome
The fatty liver syndrome is a condition more common in overweight cats. There are many liver conditions; however, Hepatic Lipidosis is one that is the most dangerous and most common. It is dangerous since it can become lethal if it’s not noticed in time.
What happens if a cat eats small amounts of food or doesn’t eat for a few days in a row, the fats start to break down fast so they can supply the body with energy and nutrients since the cat lacks them.
The fast breaking down of fats might overwhelm the liver since it cannot follow that number of fats which leads to accumulation of the fat around the liver cells, and soon after, the liver starts to malfunction. When the liver doesn’t perform well, the whites of the eye become yellow, and it is called jaundice, a condition happening when the animal gets poisoned.
The liver needs to be treated as soon as possible during this time since it can lead to the cat’s death. Your cat will probably need a liver biopsy and blood tests in order to diagnose the fatty liver syndrome. If your cat suffers from this condition, it will likely be treated with aggressive nutritional support, which is supposed to increase the cat’s appetite and get the liver’s functionality back in order around 6 or 7 weeks.
Managing Your Cat’s Pain After Spay Surgery
Your cat’s surgical site will cause pain and discomfort for 4 to 7 days after the spay surgery, so it is vital that you take great care of her and pay attention that she is always comfortable.
Cats are great at hiding pain, so you hardly notice it, but your vet should prescribe medications for pain management so that your cat doesn’t feel as much pain as it should. Give the medications as long as your vet tells you.
Keep in mind that you should never, and by never, I mean NEVER, give human medications in order to help your cat with pain since those are extremely toxic to cats.
Cat not eating after spaying is not big of a deal if there is a gradual improvement every day. It is important that you study how to take proper care of your cat after the spay surgery and how to help your cat with the side effects that will follow.
A veterinary surgeon will help you with that since he will often give pain medications and antibiotics you are to give your cat after surgery so she doesn’t feel so much pain and discomfort.
Aftercare is essential, so be patient and make sure that you are by your cat’s side during that period.