When you spay your cat, you can expect a few behavioral changes. Some are short-term and directly related to the pain your cat is likely in after surgery. Plus, some side effects are common as well, which can resemble behavior changes. Other behavioral changes are long-term. Often, these changes result from hormonal differences now that your cat is not looking to reproduce.
Cats are often much easier to handle when they are not looking to reproduce. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common behavioral changes. Your cat may not experience all of these, or she may experience changes not on this list. Either way, the changes should give you an idea of what you should expect.
What to Expect After a Spay Surgery
After you bring your cat home, you’ll likely notice that she is sleepier and more lethargic than usual. This is normal since she needs time to recover from surgery. However, these effects should not be long-lasting. Most cats bounce back in a matter of days.
Some cats are a bit disoriented. However, this is a short-term effect, and most cats are monitored by their vet while recovering from anesthesia. So, if the surgery was performed in the morning, but you didn’t pick your cat up until the evening, you likely won’t notice this sign.
Some cats are more aggressive. Usually, this is due to the pain associated with the surgical site. They may not understand what is going on, which can make them accidentally attack the people they love. If your cat is aggressive, it is best to give them space. You should, however, keep up with any post-operative care prescribed by your veterinarian.
Despite these changes, your cat should still eat and drink somewhat normally. A slightly lower appetite is expected after surgery, but your feline should drink water normally. In the days after the surgery, your cat may be more timid or jumpy.
However, this change should be temporary. In a few days, your cat should relax back into their routine and become lovable again. Most behavioral changes directly after the spay are caused by the surgery, not the hormonal differences. The long-term differences are much different from the short-term ones.
Long-Term Behavioral Effects of a Spay
The most apparent changes female cats experience are related to their hormonal cycles. After the surgery, female cats no longer go in heat. Therefore, they will not experience any signs associated with being in heat, including the midnight yowls in search of a mate.
You won’t have to deal with the ups and downs of owning a hormonal cat. Spayed females are typically more relaxed and easygoing. They spend more of their time lounging around the house because they don’t have hormones driving them to look for a mate.
In many cases, the surgery will not affect your cat’s personality. She won’t have those ups and downs of hormonal heat cycles. In fact, your cat may have more of a personality than before since she won’t have hormones getting in the way.
Hormonal changes do not occur right away. It takes a few weeks to a few months for your cat’s hormones to balance out. Therefore, don’t expect hormonal-related behaviors to disappear after surgery. It may take them a while to get back to normal.
What to Watch For
There are a few behavioral changes that can point to something serious going on, such as an infection. While some behavioral changes are normal, not all of them are.
First, your cat should only be lethargic for a few hours. By her second or third day home, she should be feeling better. If she isn’t acting any better, you should speak to your vet. In many cases, this can be a sign of infection or another underlying problem.
Second, many cats will not eat directly after surgery. They just won’t feel like it. However, they should eat within about 12 hours. If they don’t, call your vet. While it may be your cat reacting worse to the surgery than others, she may need supportive care while she gets better. Cats need calories to recover from surgery, after all.
Your cat should be eating normally after a few days. If she isn’t, you can contact your vet. There may be a reason your cat is not bouncing back as fast. Of course, beyond behaviors, you should keep an eye on your cat’s stitches for infection.
Red, flushed skin is the most obvious sign of infection. Swelling and fluid seeping are other common signs that an infection has occurred. Usually, cats bounce back very quickly. If your cat is still acting lethargic and groggy after 24 hours, you should contact your vet. It should not take that long for your cat to return to her usual antics.
Most owners choose to get their cats spayed to eliminate the chance of pregnancy. However, others may decide to spay their felines because of behavioral differences. Without their heat cycle, female cats typically act much more content and calmer. Their hormones no longer push them to find a mate, and they may feel much more relaxed.
However, hormonal changes do not happen overnight. It takes time for your cat’s hormones to become balanced. While waiting, you may find that your feline experiences short-term changes due to the surgery.
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