Spaying and neutering your pet is considered a routine procedure, but it is still a surgical procedure. You’ll need to take special care of your cat during the recovery period. It’s important to know when you can bathe your cat, as well as other measures you should take. 

Can I bathe my cat after neutering or spaying?

In short, no. You can’t bathe your cat after a neuter or spay, because the incision site must stay dry. Most cats are perfectly happy with this arrangement, because they loathe baths in the first place. 

However, owners are not always thrilled with the prospect. In the 24 to 48 hours after surgery, your cat will not be completely themself. They may not maintain their usual standard of cleanliness, leaving you wanting to give them a bath. 

Infection Risk

The main reason you shouldn’t bathe your cat after surgery is that it increases the risk of infection. Interestingly, recommendations for human surgical incisions have changed. 

The old advice was that getting the incision site wet before stitches were removed would increase the risk of infection, but recent research has contradicted this. 

Most doctors now ask that a person wait 48 hours after surgery before bathing. One study allowed participants to shower 24 hours after surgery, and found no statistical increase in infection rates. 

Does this have a significance for your cat? It is interesting information. However, until further studies are performed on cats, it’s best to stick with your vet’s recommendations. 

Dissolveable Sutures

Many vets today choose to use dissolvable sutures. Instead of a return visit to remove sutures or stitches, they dissolve on their own over time. You may still need to bring your cat in for a follow up to ensure that they are healing properly, but suture removal will not be required if dissolvable sutures are removed.

This can make life a bit easier for you and your cat. However, water can affect some types of dissolvable sutures, causing them to dissolve earlier than they should. 

But I Don’t See Stitches? 

Depending on how the incision site was closed, you may not see stitches or sutures on your cat. This can leave you a bit confused. After all, if they aren’t supposed to bathe until the stitches are removed, how do you know when to bathe them? Can you bathe them immediately if stitches aren’t present?

Some vets close the outer incision with standard sutures or dissolvable sutures. However, many vets now use surgical glue to close this. Stitches or sutures will typically still be used on the inside, so you should treat the incision as you would one with visible stitches. 

When can I bathe my cat after neutering or spaying?

You’ll need to wait between 10-14 days after surgery to give your cat a bath. This gives the incision site time to close completely. 

How to bathe my cat after neutering or spaying?

You can’t bathe your cat after surgery, but there are other ways to clean them when necessary. A dirty cat is also problematic when there’s an open incision. Most infections in humans are the result of bacteria that’s present on the skin. Your cat has bacteria on their skin and hair, in addition to what they come into contact with through their environment. This makes cleanliness very important for their health. 

Bath Wipes

Bath wipes are one method you can use to clean your cat without immersing them in water. Be sure to purchase wipes made for pets. Wet wipes designed for humans are not good for your cat. The ph of a cat’s skin is very different from ours. In fact, human wet wipes can be 200 times too acidic for your cat. 

It’s best to avoid using the wipes directly on the incision site. They can be used on the rest of your cat’s body when needed. 

Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo is another option for keeping your kitty clean. Most are in a foam form. Simply apply the foam to your cat’s fur. Once it’s dry, you may want to brush the fur for best results. 

There’s no need to rinse. These products are designed to stay on your cat’s fur. In addition to cleaning, they offer conditioning. 

Do not apply dry shampoo around the incision site. Instead, apply it to the rest of their body. 

Sponge Bath

If your cat is very dirty, you may need a heavier duty cleaning than wet wipes or dry shampoo can provide. In this case, you can give them a sponge bath. 

A sponge bath isn’t recommended unless it’s absolutely necessary. In most cases, wet wipes or dry shampoo will clean your cat up well. 

To give your cat a sponge bath, you’ll need a tub or pan of warm water, a sponge or rag, and cat shampoo. 

Place a towel in your lap, and allow the cat to lay on the towel. Their stomach and incision site should be on the towel, so it is not exposed to water. 

Wet the sponge and begin rubbing it over your cat’s fur. It should become moist, but not excessively wet. Apply a small amount of cat-safe shampoo. The smaller the amount the better. Once you’ve lathered the shampoo, it’s time to rinse. 

Dip the sponge in the water, and begin rubbing it over your cat’s fur. Rinse the sponge in the water when needed. Keep doing this until all the soap is removed and your cat is clean. 

How do I care for my cat after neutering or spaying?

Although it is a routine procedure, your cat will need some special care after surgery. Many owners believe that a spay surgery takes longer to recover from than neutering. However, the size of the incision is nearly the same, so you can expect a similar recovery time and restrictions for both surgeries. 

The First 24 Hours

Your cat will need the most attention during the first 24 hours after surgery. You can expect them to be hung over from anesthesia. If you’ve ever had anesthesia for a medical procedure, you may remember feeling groggy, tired, and disoriented. Expect your cat to feel the same way. 

They will need a quiet place to rest. Confine them to a small area so they can’t exert or injure themselves. Keep a watchful eye, checking on them at least every few hours, even during the night. 

Offer them water as soon as they are at home and settled. Small amounts are best to prevent nausea. Once they are alert, you can offer them food. Give them 1/4 to 1/2 their normal food. They may not have an appetite due to the anesthesia, so don’t force them to eat if they aren’t hungry. 

The day after surgery, you can go back to their regular schedule and serving size for food and water. 

24-48 Hours After Surgery

The day after surgery, your cat should begin to feel like themselves. You’ll need to keep them inside for at least 48 hours after surgery, even if they are normally outdoors. 

The anesthesia and pain medication administered during surgery can dull reflexes, decrease awareness, and keep your kitty from feeling pain. This can lead to injuries if they are left outdoors unsupervised. 

48 Hours to 2 Weeks After Surgery

Once the initial recovery period is over, your cat should seem to be themself again. However, they are far from fully healed. You will need to limit their activity level for at least one week after surgery. 

Most vets recommend keeping them in a crate or small room to avoid strenuous activity. Do not allow them to run, jump, or play for at least one week after surgery. Activity should be limited for two weeks post surgery, but it is absolutely essential during the first week. 

What are do and dont’s for a cat after neutering or spaying?

Your cat will require similar care to a human who is recovering from surgery. However, unlike humans, they don’t know what they should and shouldn’t do. As the owner, it’s up to you to know the rules and make sure your cat follows them. 

Do Restrict Their Activity Level

Restrict their activity level for one to two weeks after surgery. Running, jumping, and climbing can cause the stitches to open and delay healing time. 

Do Watch for Problems

When it comes to monitoring your cat, you’ll need to watch their behavior. You can expect your cat to be more tired than normal, but they shouldn’t be unresponsive after the surgery. 

They should return to a normal level of alertness within 48 hours of the surgery. They may have a reduced appetite, but it should return within 48 hours as well. If they aren’t eating and drinking normally after 72 hours, contact your vet. 

They may be constipated due to the medication. However, if they don’t have a bowel movement within 48 hours of surgery, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet. 

Do Check the Incision Site

You should check the incision site at least once every 24 hours throughout the recovery period. The edges of the incision site should be touching each other. It should appear pink.

If it is red, swollen, or there’s a discharge, this can indicate an infection. Fever or heat at the incision site is also an indication of infection. You’ll need to bring your kitty back to the vet as soon as possible. 

It’s normal to see some bruising around the incision site, particularly if your cat has light skin. Slight bleeding can occur if your cat is active, which is why it’s recommended to restrict their activity. 

Do Switch Their Littter

Cat litter can introduce infection into the incision site. The dust becomes airborne, particularly when your cat digs at it. For at least one week post surgery, you’ll need to use shredded paper for litter. 

Keep the litter box near your cat in their resting area. 

Do Use an E-Collar or Recovery Suit

You’ll need to be sure your cat doesn’t lick the incision site. This can lead to infection. As it begins to heal, your cat may also bite at the site, removing stitches or causing injury. 

There are a few options for preventing this. E-collars used to be the standard. However, cats absolutely hate them. They were once seen as a necessary evil, but now recovery suits are gaining in popularity. 

These are typically made from breathable neoprene. They often have a pouch to insert gauze if drainage is occurring, and allow the incision to get air without exposing it to dirt. It also prevents your cat from accessing the incision. 

You’ll need to use a suit or e-collar for 10-14 days after the surgery, until the incision is completely healed or stitches are removed. 

Do Give Them Extra TLC

Your cat may not be very social immediately after surgery. However, as they begin to recover, you may find they want more attention than normal. 

Take extra time to give your kitty some tlc. They will need your love and comfort as they recover. There’s nothing wrong with pampering them or spoiling them a bit while they recover. After all, you would want extra care after a surgery as well. 

Don’t Let Them Outside

It’s preferable to keep your cat inside for the entire recovery period. If you have an outdoor cat, they must stay inside for the initial 48 hours after the surgery. 

Do Not Bathe Them

Do not bathe them or allow the incision site to get wet. If you must bathe them, use wet wipes, dry shampoo, or a careful sponge bath. 

How long does a cat take to recover from neutering or spaying?

Your cat should be back to their normal self within 24-48 hours after surgery. However, they will still need to take it easy. 

You should restrict their activity during this period. For the first 24 hours, they will need to rest as much as possible. After the initial recovery period, you’ll still need to limit their exercise. Most vets state that they shouldn’t be allowed outside during the recovery period. 

Author

I created and currently run Kitty Cat Tips, the website that you can go to when you have questions about your cat's behavior. It's my hope that you find Kitty Cat Tips to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your cat. You can read more about me and my website here.