Cat Not Eating After Dental Surgery (What Should I Do?)

I remembered when I extracted two of my wisdom tooth on the same day. My face swelled up so badly that I looked like a pufferfish.

I couldn’t even eat any solid food for almost a week. All I had was ice cream and soup.

If your cat has just been through a dental procedure like tooth extraction or fixing a broken tooth, you can expect your cat to be in the same boat.

Many cats don’t eat after dental surgery because their mouth is still tender and swollen. It can also be painful for them to chew on food that is hard. Many cats won’t have much of an appetite either.

In this article, I will be sharing what to expect after your cat comes home from dental surgery and what you can do to improve its appetite

Cat Acting Strange After Dental Surgery?

As cat parents, it can be very unnerving knowing that your cat is going through surgery. If this is the first time for you and your cat, you can expect your cat to not be its normal self after the tooth extraction.

Under Anesthesia

The vet will have to put your cat under anesthesia in order to carry out the dental surgery. Otherwise, there is no way for the medical team to do a proper job with your cat struggling to escape.

This will only cause more stress to your cat.

It takes a few hours for the anesthesia to wear off in your cat. Once home, you can expect your cat to be rather wobbly and uncoordinated with its movements.

Try to keep your cat isolated in a dark and comfortable room for now and let your cat recover. Your cat’s normal behavior should slowly return over the next 1-2 days.


After a cat tooth extraction, you can expect your poor feline friend to be in quite a lot of pain. It is a common reaction for your cat to be drooling because of the pain.

The vet would have prescribed some pain medications for you can to take that can help relieve some of the pain. Buprenorphine is a common pain-relief medication that helps to relieve moderate to severe pain in pets after a surgical procedure. However, there have been reports about some cats that developed severe insomnia after taking Buprenorphine.

I would advise against wiping the drool off your cat’s mouth as the whole area is still tender.

Just let it be and the drooling will stop after a day or two on pain meds

Meowing Loudly

Your cat is meowing loudly because of the pain and confusion from the anesthesia. I remember my cat walking around the house and crying out loudly.

It broke my heart to see him like this but I understand that it is part of the healing process.

Try giving your cat lots of attention and soothing assurance. Most cats will feel better if they know that their owners are there for support.

Pawing At Its Mouth

If there are sutures in your cat’s mouth, it would feel very uncomfortable for your cat. It will keep pawing at its mouth to try and remove the sutures.

The sutures used by the vet are dissolvable and will be gone on their own after a few days.

It will be good to have your cat wear an Elizebeth collar to prevent it from touching and agitating its own mouth.

How To Get Your Cat To Eat More?

If the dental surgery isn’t something major, you will be able to take your cat home after the procedure.

Although your cat will be back to its usual self after a few days, most of them won’t have much of an appetite due to the surgery.

It is a cat’s thing to try and avoid pain. And if eating makes their mouth or gums hurt, they will avoid it.

The challenge here is to try and make your cat’s food as palatable as possible during this period.

Here are some tips that you can try.

Give Your Cat Soft Food

After my wisdom tooth operation, the last thing that I needed was something tough and hard to eat.

The same goes for your cat.

Its entire mouth is too tender for anything that involves too much chewing. So if you have always been feeding your cat dry food, it won’t work now.

Your kitty should eat wet cat food which is a much better choice for your cat during the recovery period. Your cat needs soft food or cat food that doesn’t require much chewing.

Some cats might be open to eating baby food but make sure that you analyse the ingredient label to ensure that it’s safe for your cat.

Really mash up the wet cat food until it forms a paste before feeding your cat.

You can even add some water to the canned food and soften it up even further.

If your cat still insists on eating its dry food, add some warm water to it and mix the dry food to form a soft paste.

Make sure that the water isn’t too warm before serving or it can burn your cat’s mouth.

Make The Food Tastier

Eating is really going to be a chore and difficult for your cat. Our job is to make the food so yummy that our cats will power through the discomfort and get some food down.

One way to really take your cat’s food up a notch is to add some tuna water to it.

Cats taste their food through smell and not many can resist the ‘stinky’ smell of tuna.

Don’t just start feeding your cat raw tuna just because it is soft. Raw seafood is harmful to cats as it contains an enzyme that can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B.

Add some of the tuna water from a can of water-based tuna. Or you can even boil some fresh tuna in water for a couple of minutes to extract the flavors for a delicious homemade tuna broth.

You can then add this tuna broth to your cat’s food to really try and whip up its appetite.

Do Forget The Pain Medications

I’m not a fan of feeding my cat too much medication but in times like this, pain meds can really help your cat feel more comfortable when it is in too much pain.

Depending on the type of medication, it can be in the form of a pill or liquid.

If it is too difficult for you to pill your cat, you can crush the pill, dissolve it in some milk or tuna broth and syringe your cat.

The same goes for the liquid meds. I understand that many cat owners find it difficult to feed their cats liquid medication but it has to be done.

Make Your Own Cat Food

If your cat is being really difficult with its food, trying to make your own cat food might work. Some of my friends have fed their cats boiled meats like chicken, beef or lamb with good success.

You can ask the butcher to mince the meat to make it easier for your cat to chew.

Homemade baby food is also a good recipe to try on your cat if it doesn’t have much of an appetite.

Just make sure to not include any ingredients like garlic or onions that are very toxic to cats.

Hand Feeding Your Cat

Feeding your cat by hand is a great way of showing your love. Furthermore, it is easier for your cat to eat off your hand than from the bowl after having its teeth removed.

After my cat’s tooth distraction, he didn’t have much food over a few days and I was getting worried.

What really help him was when I just took some of his food, put it on my palm and placed it in front of his face.

He took and sniff of the food and started slowly eating. I was so happy that I started to tear.

I hand fed my cat for a few more meals before he was good eating on his own again.

Give this a try, your cat might really take to it.

Try Some Human Food

I wouldn’t recommend this unless you are feeling at your wit’s end about your cat’s appetite. You can try feeding some human food to your cat to see if it eats.

The rule of thumb is to avoid food that is spicey, contains garlic or onion or anything grape related.

The point is to not replace your entire cat’s diet with human food but as treats throughout the day.

You can try feeding your cat some plain waffles or pancakes, dairy products or fruits that are safe for cats.

How Long Can A Cat Go Without Eating After Dental Surgery?

It can start to get dangerous if your cat has not eaten anything after 48 hours. It can start to cause liver failure in cats as the liver can’t live off its own energy reserves for long.

Even if your cat is not eating, you need to try and get water in your cat’s body to ensure the proper functioning of its kidneys. You can do this by syringing your cat with water.

I would strongly advise you to bring your cat back to the vet if it has not eaten anything for more than 48 hours.

The vet will most likely put your cat on a drip to replenish its nutrients and calories. A more thorough check might be needed to make sure there are no complications from the dental surgery.

How To Keep Your Cat’s Teeth And Gums Healthy?

brush cat teeth finger brush

Last but not least, as cat parents, it is our responsibility to try and keep our cat’s teeth and gums in good condition.

The only way to go about doing this is with regular brushing.

Yes, you can brush your cat’s teeth as well.

Most pet stores sell toothpaste and toothbrushes that are meant for pets. Make sure you get those instead of the human ones.

Make it a point to start brushing your cat’s teeth as early as possible. The earlier you start, the easier it is as your cat gets older.

The best time to get your cat used to a good dental schedule is when it is still a kitten.

If you have an older cat, it is still possible but it will take more time and patience.


It is normal for your cat to not eat much as well as not be its usual self after dental surgery or any other surgery for that matter.

Try your best to make your cat’s food be as appetizing as possible without compromising too much on its nutritional value.

If you cat isn’t eating after 48 hours, give your vet a call to see if it warrants bringing your cat back for further checks.