It’s important to spay or neuter your cat. However, the aftermath isn’t always pleasant. You probably know that it’s best for your cat to wear a cone after their surgery, but they don’t like it. It seems cruel to keep them in the cone, but it’s for their own good. 

How long should a cat wear a cone after neutering or spaying?

You and your cat are more than ready for the cone to come off. How long do they have to wear it? The recommended time to wear the cone is 7-14 days. The specific time frame will depend on the surgery your cat had. 

How Long Should My Cat Wear a Cone After Neutering?

There are two basic ways neutering procedures are performed. The simplest only requires a scrotal incision. If your cat’s testicles have descended, this simple incision is all that is required during neutering surgery. 

They use the scrotal incision to access the testicles. Then they can tie the testicles with a suture or a surgical tie. They will then remove both testicles through the incision, 

Most vets don’t use sutures to close the incision in this case. They either leave them open to heal on their own, or use a tissue adhesive. 

This type of surgery allows the cat to heal quickly, and the cone should only be needed for 5-7 days. 

However, if one or two of your cat’s testicles haven’t dropped, the vet will need to make more incisions to reach the testicles. This often includes an incision in the testicles and one or more in the abdomen. 

Abdominal incisions will need to be sutured. These can either be non-dissolvable sutures which must be removed by the vet, or they can be intradermal sutures, which will dissolve on their own over time. 

This type of surgery usually requires wearing the cone for 10-14 days. 

How Long Should My Cat Wear a Cone After Spay?

When your cat is spayed, they will have their ovaries and uterus removed to prevent them from getting pregnant. The vet will have to make an incision in the abdomen. This will allow them to remove the ovaries and uterus through the incision. 

The incision is closed with several layers of sutures. Skin sutures are usually used, which can be removed by your vet in 7-10 days. Your cat will need to wear the cone for 10-14 days after surgery. 

What to Expect After Surgery

Spay and neuter surgeries are considered routine procedures. However, they are still a significant surgery. Recovery includes a few precautions in addition to their cone. 

First, you’ll need to restrict their exercise. They will be sedated for surgery, and given pain medication before they go home. These medications can make them more likely to injure themselves, because they don’t feel pain as they normally would. 

They will need to be restricted for the entire healing time. They can still  move around, but they shouldn’t engage in vigorous exercise. Jumping or stretching can cause sutures to come loose, which requires another trip to the vet. 

If you can’t supervise your kitty, it’s best to put them in a carrier or a small room in the days following surgery. 

Vets advise that it’s best to keep cats indoors during recovery. Males who have had a simple neutuer procedure can go out within 24-48 hours for short periods. 

Females and males with an abdominal incision should be kept inside at least 7 days, or until the incision is fully healed. 

Watch the Wound

It’s important for you to monitor your cat’s incision healing. Soon after surgery, the incision should be straight, closed, and pink around the edges. 

You can expect to see some slight swelling and bruising. The area around the incision should be pink. If you notice excessive swelling, pus or other discharge, or heat coming from the incision, you’ll need to contact your vet. It may be infected. 

You’ll also need to contact your vet if the wound comes open, particularly if it was closed with sutures or adhesive. 

When the wound is fully healed, it will be completely together without sutures. It will still be pink, but should not be red. There should be no blood or discharge from the incision. 

Will my cat be OK without a cone after being spayed or neutered?

It can be tempting to allow your cat out of the cone. It may seem to drive them insane. Isn’t it better to take it off, so they can rest comfortably after surgery? 

What is the Cone?

The cone is a device that encircles your cat’s head. They are typically made of plastic, but they can also be made of softer materials. The cone is designed to keep your cat from being able to reach their incision site. It can also restrict their movement and field of vision somewhat. 

The Role of the Cone

The cone is meant to prevent your cat from licking their surgical site. They may have sutures or an open wound. Once it begins to heal, your cat’s instinct will be to lick it. 

Unfortunately, if your cat licks the area, it can cause infection. The site should be kept completely dry until it heals, which means you can’t give them a bath during this time either. 

Some cats will also pick at their sutures, and may even pull the sutures out. If this happens, you may need to bring your kitty back to the vet to have the incision resurtured, which will prolong healing time. 

Vets insist that your cat wear the cone when the surgical site is healing to prevent them from licking or biting at the incision. 

When You Can Remove the Cone Temporarily

Some vets say that you can remove the cone anytime you are able to supervise your cat closely. This means you are watching them carefully, and can intervene if they begin to lick or bite at the incision. 

The point of the cone is simply to prevent your cat from injuring themselves. When you are supervising, you are essentially playing the same role as the cone. 

Keep in mind that this requires careful supervision. Do not allow your cat to be without the cone when you are watching tv or cooking dinner, because you will be distracted. 

It may also be more difficult to get your cat used to the cone if you remove it frequently. This is something you’ll need to consider along with your cat’s personality, and if they are struggling with the cone. 

Cone Alternatives

There’s a great cone alternative, which can make you question why most vets seem so set on a cone. A cat suit can keep your cat protected, without driving them insane. 

The suits are made from neoprene. This keeps your cat from accessing the incision. It also keeps it away from water and dirt.

Most are breathable, so air can get to the wound. They may also have pockets to place gauze, so any discharge doesn’t get on the suit. 

You’ll need to remove the suit to check the sutures and change the gauze, but it can be an excellent cone alternative. 

Can cones hurt cats?

Unfortunately, the cone can hurt your cat in a few ways. Most vets are strong cone proponents, but things are beginning to change. Some vets are speaking out about recent studies that suggest cones can also cause harm. 

Interfers With Drinking and Eating

One issue is that the cone can interfere with your cat eating and drinking. 60% of cat owners stated that their cat had difficulty eating or drinking with the cone.  Logistically, your cat should be able to eat and drink when wearing the cone. However, many cats can’t or won’t eat or drink with the cone on. This leaves owners concerned and trying to come up with ways to feed their cats. 

Injuries

One quarter of cat owners surveyed said their cat had gotten an injury from wearing the cone. One way this occurs is the cat using the collar to scratch. 

If the cone is itchy or uncomfortable, the cat may push it against an object. This moves the cone, effectively scratching the area. However, this can leave scratches or trauma. Some cats will become injured from walking into walls or other objects because the cone upsets their balance and field of vision. 

Getting Stuck

The other risk to your cat when wearing a cone is getting stuck. Cats are notorious for fitting in some very tight places. In fact, many cats find comfort by curling up under a table or in a box. 

When wearing the cone, however, your cat can’t squeeze into these areas. They suddenly have a large barrier around their head, which can easily get stuck in areas that the cat itself could easily fit. 

In most cases, a stuck cat is not a big problem. They will find it distressing, but you can easily get them unstuck. However, if you aren’t home and your cat gets stuck, it could cause serious injury or death in some situations. 

Can a cat sleep with a cone on?

Yes. In fact, your veterinarian will tell you that your cat shouldn’t sleep without their cone. If they wake up when sleeping, they may lick their incision. 

You may wonder if the cone interferes with sleep. It’s made of a soft plastic, so your cat should be able to sleep while wearing it. 

How to feed a cat wearing a cone?

Some cats have no problem eating and drinking when wearing a cone, but many do. If your cat is struggling at mealtime, there are a few things you can do. 

Raising the Bowls

Your cat may find it easier to eat and drink if you raise the bowls 2-4 inches from the floor. You can do this with another bowl turned upside down as a stand, a piece of wood, or even an old blanket. 

Use a Saucer

Your cat may find it easier to eat and drink from a saucer, rather than a  bowl with high sides. If you use a saucer for water, simply put a small amount in the saucer at one time. 

This method can get messy, so it’s best to put a mat or towel down underneath the saucer. 

Do cats get depressed wearing a cone?

Yes, some cats get depressed when wearing a cone. 67% of cat owners said their cat couldn’t play with the cone on. It is important to restrict their activity after surgery, but this may play a role in depression. It also causes a significant amount of stress for your cat, which can also increase the risk of depression. 

Signs of Depression in Cats

If you are worried that the cone is making your cat depressed, it’s essential to know the signs of depression in cats. When looking at these signs, keep in mind that your cat may simply be recovering from their surgery. Some behavioral changes should be expected in the days right after surgery. 

Listen to your cat’s vocalizations. Are they meowing unhappily? Is your normally vocal cat very quiet? If your cat is normally quiet, they may become louder than normal. 

Next, look at their body language. A sad cat will often lay their ears against their head. They may tuck their tail. If they are scared, their hair may stand on end. 

A depressed cat will also display personality changes. They may hide or not want to play. They may become very clingy and demand constant attention. 

Scratching is another sign something is wrong. If your cat is scratching items they shouldn’t or scratching excessively, they may be doing it to relieve stress. 

Appetite and sleep changes are also clues. If your cat doesn’t want to eat or is sleeping excessively, they may be depressed. 

What to do if my cat won’t keep the cone on?

Some cats will slip their cone off at any opportunity. They are often called houdinis, for their ability to get out of their cones. If you are having this issue with your kitty, you have a few options. 

Attaching to Their Collar

One option is to attach the cone to their collar. This makes it harder to remove the cone. However, you’ll need to be sure it’s not possible to get stuck with the cone off while still attached to the collar. 

Check the Size

The cone should have enough space to fit one or two fingers between the cone and your cat’s body. It should also extend slightly beyond your kitty’s nose to work effectively. 

Try a Different Material

You can find cones in a variety of materials. If your cat isn’t happy with their cone, a new one made out of another material may help the situation. 

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.