How Do Cats Act After Spaying?

A cat resting on a chair while wearing a protective cone.
A cat resting on a chair while wearing a protective cone. (Image: fxegs/iStock/Getty Images)

Spaying a cat -- or surgically removing her reproductive organs -- can improve her health and eliminate heat cycles and unwanted kittens. Spaying is typically a routine operation performed between 8 weeks and 6 months of age. Your cat usually can come home the same day. Recognizing the behaviors to expect post-spay can help you differentiate between typical post-surgery behavior and signs your cat needs follow-up medical attention.

Post-Op Behaviors

Vets typically keep cats under observation for a few hours post-spay to ensure there are no complications and that the animal is able to walk, eat, drink and use the bathroom. When you get her home, your cat may be groggy and want to sleep. Make sure she has a quiet, private location with a litter box, food and water where she can recuperate away from other household pets. Limit activity to help her avoid pulling stitches.

Post-Spay Pain

Your vet may prescribe a pain reliever to ensure your cat’s post-op comfort. Give her the meds as directed and inform your vet if she cries excessively or if it seems difficult for her to move or get comfortable. Your cat may lick at her incision site, which can lead to infection or an open wound. If the behavior continues, ask your vet for advice. You kitty may need to wear an Elizabethan collar until the incision heals. If your cat behaves out of character and cries or is aggressive, consult your vet. Vomiting, diarrhea and failure to eat or use the bathroom are also signs there could be a post-op complication.

Long-Term Behavior Changes

Spaying your cat can have positive long-term effects on her behavior. She won’t have hormonal changes associated with heat, such as crying, trying to escape or roaming in search of a mate. She’s also less likely to spray or mark territory. Spaying also eliminates the potential for ovarian or uterine cancer and reduces the potential for mammary cancer in your cat. Spaying prevents the uterine infection pyometra, a life-threatening disease that can strike older, unspayed felines.

Weight and Personality

Contrary to popular belief, spaying a cat will not make her fat and lazy unless she’s over-fed. Spaying doesn’t alter the personality of a cat either, though you’re likely to see a reduction in howling and sexual behaviors that can accompany the heat cycles of unaltered pets.

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