Spaying and neutering aftercare guide for cats

Spaying or neutering your cat might be their first ever experience of surgery. So, as well as protecting them from injury and infection, their recovery time after visiting the vet is a great opportunity to reinforce visiting the vet as a positive experience. 

To support you and your cat as they heal from their spay or neuter, we’ve created this spaying and neutering aftercare guide…

Please note: Vets from different areas of the country may refer to either ‘spaying’ or ‘speying’, but both of these terms describe the same type of surgery.

Preventing your cat from irritating their wound

Have you ever been recovering from surgery and experienced a strong desire to scratch the stitches as your skin heals? You’ll know that scratching at a surgical site can cause harm and lengthen recovery times, but your cat won’t be able to understand that. 

It’s a tricky task to prevent your cat from scratching at their stitches following surgery, though there are a few items you can use to help protect them from themselves:

Buster collar or Elizabethan collar

The buster collar might also be referred to as an ‘Elizabethan collar’, ‘e-collar’ or ‘cone of shame’! 

A classic plastic cone, resembling a satellite dish, is the traditional choice for stopping your cat from reaching their surgical site to scratch and chew at it.  

Make sure the buster collar fits your cat properly by securing it to their normal collar, fitting it gently, then running two fingers between the collar and their neck. If your cat finds it uncomfortable to wear their normal collar, you could attach the buster collar to a piece of ribbon instead. 

The buster collar will need to reach at least an inch past your cat’s nose to be effective.

A sleeping cat wearing a plastic buster collar.

Inflatable collar

For felines who struggle to cope with the bulkiness of a buster collar, the inflatable collar could be an ideal alternative!

Inflatable collars are softer than traditional plastic cones, and they’ll allow your cat to carry out natural behaviours, like eating and drinking.

As well as being scratch-resistant, inflatable collars are usually machine washable, too – meaning they’re easier to keep clean than a plastic cone.

Pet shirt or medical pet suit

You may find your vet recommends the use of a pet shirt or medical pet suit to protect your cat from irritating their surgical site. An example of a protective garment you could use for your cat is the MPS Medical Pet Shirt.

Wearing a pet shirt or suit could help ease any anxiety associated with the use of a traditional plastic cone or inflatable collar for your cat. The ability to perform natural behaviours could ease the stress your cat may be feeling due to changes to their routine as they recover from their surgery. 

Top tip: Modifying a suitably sized baby grow may also offer effective protection for your cat! Just make sure they are still able to use the litter tray while wearing it. 

Monitoring your cat’s surgical site

Taking photographs of your cat’s surgical incision every day is a great way to monitor their recovery.

While your cat’s wound heals, their skin should stay soft and remain a normal colour – although it’s normal to see slight reddening along the incision line itself.

Speak to your vet if you notice any of the following changes:

  • Hard or soft swelling – could signal inflammation, infection, or seroma formation (a collection of fluid beneath the skin).
  • Bleeding – can be caused by re-opening the incision, due to too much movement or excess scratching, for example.
  • Discharge – might indicate an infection. 
  • Unpleasant smells from the surgical site – another sign of a possible infection.  

Keeping your cat comfortable at home

Keeping them comfortable is a huge part of helping your cat recover from their spay or neuter.

Create a safe sleeping environment

Your feline friend will probably feel extremely tired following their surgery. It’s vital to provide a clean, comfortable, and cosy sleeping space that’s kept quiet and located away from the busier areas of your home. 

Monitor their eating and drinking habits

Cats need to eat and drink frequently to stay healthy. 

Constant access to clean, fresh water is essential for your cat. 

Your vet may recommend feeding your cat plain meals, like boiled chicken and rice, for a few days following their surgery. 

However, if you notice your cat refuses to eat and drink for more than a few hours, you’ll need to speak to a vet or vet nurse for advice. 

Relieve their stress

Owing to the significant change in their routine, your cat could feel stressed after being spayed or neutered. Vets sometimes prescribe post-op calming medication for cats who show signs of stress, though they may also suggest a plug-in to ease your cat’s anxiousness or distress. 


Only give your cat painkillers as prescribed by your vet.

Avoid interfering with their incision

Although it can be tempting to clean your cat’s surgical site, it’s important not to try bathing the area or applying any products to it. 

You can help to keep your cat’s incision site clean by exchanging their cat litter for ink-free shredded paper for a few days after their operation. 

Helping your cat rest after their surgery

Limiting your cat’s movement may require them to sleep in a suitably sized, comfortable crate – containing lots of blankets and a water dish – overnight. You’ll also have to be mindful about preventing them from jumping up onto furniture, playing energetically, and venturing outside.

Top tip: Prepare your pet for surgery by buying them a ramp beforehand, to help them get used to it and prevent them from jumping up onto furniture while they’re healing. If your cat has to climb or jump up to a surface to reach their water and food bowl, you should move these to floor level so they can get used to where they are ahead of their surgery.

Handling your cat safely after their surgery

Each cat is an individual – while some may find comfort in cuddling up with you, others prefer to be left alone. Whichever approach your cat prefers, you should try to avoid handling them while they heal, wherever possible.

The kindest way to pick up your cat, if absolutely necessary, is to place a hand under their chest and gently scoop their backend up with your other hand.  

Remember: Always follow your vet’s advice when handling your feline friend following their spaying or neutering surgery.  

Potential side effects after spaying or neutering

Another aspect to caring for your cat after they’ve been spayed or neutered is to keep an eye on their side effects.

Here are several side effects to monitor your cat for, following their surgery:

  • Excess drooling (due to nausea). 
  • Heat, pain, and swelling of their incision site. 
  • Wound inflammation.
  • Infection. 
  • Diarrhoea. 
  • Vomiting. 
  • Breathing difficulties, especially in flat-faced (brachycephalic) cats. 
  • Changes in behaviour, e.g. aggression. 

Please contact your vet immediately if you’re concerned about your cat’s health, behaviour, or incision site after they’ve been spayed or neutered. 

Looking for more cat advice?

We’ve written some handy cat advice guides, to help you unlock the secrets of your mysterious moggy.


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