Spaying your cat is a responsible decision that can give your cat a better quality of life and prevents overpopulation.
The post-surgery period can be a challenging time for both you and your cat as your cat may exhibit a range of symptoms that could be a cause for concern.
One such common symptom that may leave you puzzled is your cat sounding congested after being spayed.
The congestion sound in your cat could be caused by the tubing which delivers the anesthetic agent into your cat. Any unusual sounds can also be caused by pneumonia or an upper respiratory infection.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the possible causes of post-spay congestion and provide tips on caring for your cat during recovery,
What Is Spaying And Is It Necessary?
When you get your cat spayed, it is a surgical procedure where the vet will completely remove your cat’s uterus and ovaries. The medical term for it is known as an ovariohysterectomy.
The vet will make a slit a couple of inches long in your cat’s belly and proceed from there. Most spay procedures can be done in an hour.
For male cats, the process is called neutering and the vet will make an incision in the ball sack and remove both testicles.
All this is done when the cat is under general anesthesia.
The main purpose of spaying a cat is to prevent it from getting pregnant and fill the streets and shelters with more unwanted cats.
More than 500,000 cats are euthanized at shelters every year due to the lack of space and care.
It also helps to prevent certain diseases and give your cat a better quality of life.
How Do Female Cats Behave After Being Spayed?
Although a spaying procedure isn’t as complicated as it sounds, the entire ordeal can still take a lot out of your cat.
The two main factors to consider post-op is that your cat was under anesthesia for quite a while and it is an intrusive surgical procedure.
This means that your cat will be drowsy and in pain.
The job of the anesthetic agent is to make sure your cat is asleep throughout the entire procedure and does not feel any pain.
Your cat won’t be in the best of shape when it is back home. All it will do is sleep the day away due to the effects of the anesthesia.
This will last until your cat’s body totally flushes out the anesthesia from its system in 1-2 days time.
Given that being spayed is an intrusive procedure, your cat will be experiencing some degree of pain and discomfort internally and at the incision site.
Let your cat be by itself for the next few days even though you are concerned about its well-being.
It will feel better once the wound starts to heal and with the pain relief medications.
Why Does My Cat Sound Congested After Surgery?
When your cat is under general anesthesia, a rather long tube will be inserted down its throat.
This is called the endotracheal tube which helps to keep your cat’s throat open and supply oxygen to its lungs.
Your cat’s windpipe is very delicate and it is easy for the tube to cause some irritation and abrasion to the throat’s tissue membrane.
This can cause your cat’s throat to become dry and sore which can affect the vocalization of your cat making its meow sound squeaky or coarse.
Or as some cat owners could put it, a coffee percolator.
If your cat is eating, drinking and breathing fine, she should be fine in a couple of days.
Another reason that could be causing the congested sound is aspiration pneumonia.
This happens when occurs when food or liquid has entered the airways or lungs, instead of being swallowed.
The clinic will usually ask you to fast your cat for 6-8 hours before the spaying procedure.
This is lower the risk of your cat vomiting and causing aspiration pneumonia while it’s sedated.
I’ve seen this happen firsthand when my cat was injected with a sedative to prepare for an X-ray. He started vomiting after 1 minute due to the effects of the sedative.
The vet assured me that it’s a normal reaction which is why fasting the pet is important.
Other symptoms of aspiration pneumonia in cats include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Lack of appetite
- Fever Coughing
- Nasal discharge
Aspiration pneumonia is a much more serious medical condition and requires medical attention.
Your cat will be given supportive care and antibiotics to aid in its recovery.
How To Care For Your Cat After Being Spayed?
There are a couple of ways to make your cat feel more comfortable after its spay surgery.
Feed Softer Food
Since its throat has been agitated because of the tube, dry food or kibbles isn’t the best type of food for your cat at this moment.
Giving your cat more wet food or even raw food will make it easier on your cat’s throat.
If dry food is the only thing that your cat will eat, try adding some tuna water or broth to your cat’s food for 20-30 minutes to soften it up.
Encourage Water Intake
Do you know that our feline friends actually evolved from desert-dwelling creatures?
This is why cats don’t have the habit of drinking a lot of water due to a lack of thirst.
But there are some ways to encourage your cat to drink more to help soothe its throat.
You can add some ice cubes to your cat’s water bowl or water fountain to help keep the water cool.
Cold water often tastes fresher than warm or room-temperature water.
Since cats have evolved to be particular about their water sources to avoid ingesting harmful bacteria, they may be more drawn to the taste of cold water.
Avoid Irritating Your Cat’s Respiratory System
Keep your cat away from cigarette smoke, strong fragrances, and other irritants that can exacerbate throat discomfort.
Do not burn essential oils or incense as it can agitate your cat’s nose and throat.
Use A Humidifier
If you live in a country where the air is very dry, try using a humidifier to help keep the air moist.
This makes it easier for your cat to breathe and alleviates respiratory discomfort.
Why Does My Cat Sound Congested When Breathing?
While congestion after spaying is a separate issue, it’s vital to know about other respiratory problems that could affect your cat.
Cats can develop congestion due to allergies caused by environmental irritants such as pollen, dust, mold, or smoke.
Food allergy in cats is something that is also very common especially when food items contain dairy products and nuts.
Although most cats can handle such foods well, be careful to not feed your cat too much cashew milk or cheese.
Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, and nasal discharge.
Allergies are easier to manage if you know what the allergens are.
Just keep your cat away from them and it will be fine.
Environmental allergens can be harder to manage and may require antihistamines to help with the symptoms.
A cat with respiratory issues can be caused by feline asthma, bronchitis or a bacterial infection.
The symptoms are similar to a cat with allergies but can be life-threatening if left untreated, especially with feline asthma.
My cat started coughing a few weeks back and was diagnosed with asthma.
I’ve been treating him with a nebulizer to help clear his lungs which has reduced his coughing and breathing with his mouth opened.
Treatment options can vary depending on the cause and may include medications, inhalers, or oxygen therapy.
What To Watch For After A Cat Gets Spayed?
Most cats will be able to handle the spaying process without any issues. However, there can be times when some complications might arise.
Infection At The Incision
Your cat’s incision on its belly would be looking rather raw for the first week. You can expect some bleeding and a clear watery discharge.
If there are signs of a thick-colored discharge, a lump forming, bad odor or heavy bleeding, these could mean that your cat is having an infection at the surgical site.
This can be caused by a bacterial infection or by your cat’s constant licking and biting of the wound.
To prevent your cat from having access to the surgical site, you need to let your cat use an Elizabethan collar.
Stitches Have Come Apart
Once the procedure is completed, the vet will perform several layers of suturing to close up the wound properly.
When your cat is back from the vet, you should not allow it to move around too much. Do not let your cat go up and down the stairs or jump around.
Many kittens can start to get active even before the wound has healed properly.
This can cause the stitches to break and once that happens, the wound can’t close and heal. There might also be heavy bleeding.
Your cat’s curious mouth can start pulling at the suturing if it’s not wearing a cone.
Eating Very Little
Your cat will be in pain, discomfort and feeling a good amount of stress after being spayed. All these factors can affect his usual appetite.
It is normal for your cat to not eat well for the first few days but you should start to see a gradual increase in its appetite.
If your cat is still not eating well after a few days you need to let the vet know to see if there’s a need to bring it back for a follow-up.
A cat’s appetite is a barometer of its well-being and the lack of an appetite over a period of time can lead to health problems.
Why Isn’t My Cat Sleeping After Surgery?
It might sound out of this world to hear of cats that have been awake for more than 24 hours.
But it has happened and I have even heard of a cat not being able to sleep for 72 hours straight.
Your cat isn’t trying to set a world record as the longest-awake cat.
Feline insomnia could be caused by Buprenorphine which is an opioid that is used as a pain relief medication. It can be administered to your cat via injection or orally.
One downside of Buprenorphine is that it can mess up your cat’s sleep pattern and cause unnecessary wakefulness.
If your cat is unable to sleep, please let your cat know about it. The vet will either ask you to lower the dosage or change to another pain med altogether.