When you spay your cat, you can expect a few different behavioral changes. Some of these are short-term and directly related to the pain your cat is likely in after surgery. Plus, certain side effects are common as well, which can resemble behavior changes.
Other behavioral changes are long-term. Often, these changes are the result of hormonal differences now that your cat is not looking to reproduce. In many cases you may decide to spay for these behavioral differences in particular.
Cats are often much easier to handle when they are not looking to reproduce.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common behavioral changes. Your cat may not experience all of these, or they may experience changes not on this list. Either way, these changes should give you some idea of what you should expect.
What to Expect After a Spay Surgery
After you bring your cat home, you’ll likely notice that they are sleepier and more lethargic than usual. This is normal, as they need time to recover from their surgery. However, these effects should not be long-lasting. Most cats bounce back in a matter of days.
Some cats are a bit disoriented. It depends on the cat and when you brought them home. Disorientation only occurs for a few hours. So, if the surgery was performed in the morning but you didn’t pick your cat up until the evening, then you likely won’t notice this symptom.
Some cats are more aggressive. Usually, this is because of the pain and disorientation. They may not really 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.
Unlike humans, cats do not usually want lots of love and affection after surgery. Usually, they just want to be left alone.
Despite these changes, your cat should still eat and drink somewhat normally. A slightly lower appetite is expected after surgery but your feline should be drinking water normally.
In the days after the surgery, your cat may be more timid or jumpy. The surgery is usually a stressful experience since your cat doesn’t exactly understand what is going on. However, this change should be temporary. In a few days, your cat should relax back into its normal routine and become its loveable self again.
Most behavior changes directly after the spay are caused by the surgery, not the hormonal differences, though. The long-term behavior differences are much different from the short-term ones.
Long-Term Behavioral Effects of a Spay
The most obvious changes female cats experience are related to their hormonal cycles. After the surgery, female cats will no longer go in heat. Therefore, they will not experience any of the symptoms associated with being in heat, including the midnight yowls in search of a mate.
Instead, your cat will usually act like their usual self— instead of the ones that their hormones drove them to be occasionally. You won’t have to deal with the ups and downs of owning a hormonal cat.
Often, spayed females are more content and happier. They spend more of their time lounging around the house since they don’t have hormones driving them to look for a mate. However, this behavior can also lead to obesity so it’s vital that you try to encourage movement as much as possible.
In some cases, you may need to work with your vet to keep your cat at a healthy weight. Occasionally, you may need to switch to diet food. Never just feed your cat less of their usual food, as it is designed to provide the right amount of nutrients in a set number of calories.
To continue to provide the same amount of nutrients you’ll need more nutrient-dense food. Usually, food specifically designed for weight loss fits into this category.
In many cases, the surgery will not actually affect your cat’s personality. She just 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.
Firstly, your cat should only be lethargic for a few hours. By their second day home, your cat should be feeling better. If your feline 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.
Many cats will not eat directly after surgery. They just won’t feel like it. However, they should eat after 12 hours. If they don’t, call your vet. While it may just be your cat reacting worse to the surgery than others, they may need supportive care while they get better. Cats need calories to recover from surgery, after all.
Your cat should be eating completely normally after a few days. If they aren’t, you may also want to contact your vet. There may be a reason your cat is not bouncing back as fat.
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 can groggy after 48 hours, you should contact your vet. It should not take that long for your cat to get back to its usual antics.
If your cat is not jumping like normal after a few days, you should also contact your vet. This may hint at soreness in the area, which your cat may be very good at hiding. However, it can be a sign of infection or a problem with your cat’s healing process.
Many owners choose to get their cats spayed to eliminate the chance of pregnancy. However, others may choose to spay their felines because of behavioral differences. Without their usual heat cycle, female cats typically act much more content and calmer. Their hormones are no longer pushing them to find a mate, so they may feel much more relaxed.
With that said, hormonal changes do not happen overnight. It takes a bit of time for your cat’s hormones to become balanced. While you’re waiting, you may find that your feline does experience some short-term changes due to the surgery.
For instance, most cats are a bit lethargic after surgery. They may also be more aggressive, especially if they are in pain. Either way, these changes should fade after only a couple of days.
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