I remember clearly to this day the night of my cat’s neutering procedure. I was quite a nervous wreck imagining the 102 things that could go wrong. The vet is going to remove his little nuts, how could I not be worried?
Thankfully, the operation went smoothly without any complications. Spaying a female cat does involve a more complicated procedure. And if your cat is going for one or has already done it recently, I can sympathize with your frayed emotions.
There are a number of cat owners who noticed that their female cats’ sides have sunken in after being spayed. Why is this so?
Your cat’s sides might look sunken in due to some weight and water loss before and after the operation. The spaying procedure also involves some belly fur being shaved which gives the illusion of your cat’s sides looking sunken in. Most cats will slowly fill out their sides as they recover.
Let us take a closer look and what being spayed does to your cat and what you can expect after the procedure.
The Spaying Process
Getting your cat spayed can be considered one of or if not THE most major operation that your cat will undergo.
Your cat will be put under anesthesia and the vet will make an incision that is a couple of inches long in her abdomen. The vet will then proceed to remove your cat’s ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus before stitching the incision back up.
The stitches are then removed after 7-10 days. Some vets might even use sutures that will self-dissolve.
The whole purpose of spaying your cat is to prevent it from getting into a heat cycle and getting pregnant. This helps to reduce the number of unwanted cats on the streets.
Why Is My Cat’s Stomach Sunken In?
As a cat lover, I do pay very close attention to my cat’s weight on a regular basis. After all, an animal’s appetite is a good barometer of its current health condition.
By looking at your cat from the top, you should notice a figure 8 with the sides tapering in slightly near the rib cage. If your cat looks like a football, then it is carrying too much weight.
It can be unnerving to notice that your cat sinking in from the sides after being spayed. But there are some possible reasons that can cause this.
The Illusion After Being Shaved
Before making an incision in your dear cat’s abdomen, the cat will need to make sure that the surgical area is sterile and free of dirt and fur.
This means that your cat will need to be shaved, usually from her sternum to the groin area. This shaved area could be more or less, depending on how the vet sees fit.
When my cat had his balls removed, the vet shaved quite a substantial area around his ground. I have to say, the shaved area just felt so soft, almost velvety.
If your cat has long or thick hair, the lack of fur around the belly area can give the optical illusion that your cat’s sides have sunken in.
Spaying A Pregnant Cat
As unfortunate as it might seem, there are some cats that are spayed while they are still pregnant with their unborn kittens. This can happen when your cat has life-threatening complications during her pregnancy terms and spaying is the only way to save her life.
Some shelters might also spay pregnant strays to reduce the number of homeless kittens on the streets and animal shelters. So to have a cat that is spayed in the 2nd of 3rd trimester of her pregnancy, the reduction in her tummy size can be drastic.
Stitches Pulling The Skin Tighter
The incision made during the spaying procedure can be about 3-4 cm long. The vet will make a few layers of sutures from the cat’s belly muscles to its skin. The stitching must be firm and tight to hold everything together.
This allows the incision site to heal properly and prevents the sutures from bursting. Such a tight stitching process can pull your cat’s side inward a lot more than usual thus making your cat develop sunken sides.
On a fully grown adult cat, it might not seem like much. But cats can be spayed as young as five to six months of age, making them kittens.
This pulling inward of the skin on smaller cats can have a more of a dramatic visual effect.
My Cat Looks Skinny After Being Spayed
You can expect your cat to lose weight after going through a spaying procedure. Most cats wouldn’t be in the mood to eat after the operation.
Your cat will still be feeling the effects of the anesthesia and discomfort from having some organs removed for a few days.
After being neutered, my cat hardly ate for close to 5 days. I basically had to shove food down his mouth during each meal time just to make sure that he gets some nourishment to recover.
Not only will your female cat not have much of an appetite after the surgery, but your cat also has to fast prior to being spayed as well.
Thankfully it isn’t a long fast.
The vet will tell you to stop feeding your cat by 10 p.m. the night before if the procedure is in the morning. This is to keep your cat’s stomach empty as it might get nauseous and vomit while the anesthetic is given.
Given that your cat won’t have much appetite for a few days you can expect your feline companion to have less food in its digestive tract which can make her sides look sunken in.
Don’t get too freaked out about your cat’s weight loss yet as it is normal. But if your cat isn’t eating after 1-2 days you need to take your cat back to the vet immediately for an examination.
Cat’s Body Is Feeling Stressed
Having to go through such an invasive procedure by your cat can place a lot of stress on its body.
In humans, a sterilization procedure can be done without removing any reproductive organs but not when it comes to cats.
Your cat’s body must be in DEFCON 5 when it wakes up and finds missing organs that were there an hour ago. This can cause your cat’s body to feel stressed out and lose weight while to tries to stabilize itself back to normalcy.
Some cat owners feel that the sinking in of their cats’ sides is due to the missing organs. The cat’s uterus and fallopian ovaries are removed during the process but I doubt those organs are large enough to make a noticeable impact on the cat’s body.
Why Do Cats’ Stomachs Sag After Bring Spayed?
If you look at your cat’s stomach region, you will notice a loose flap of skin overhanging the belly. It makes your cat look like it has a lot of loose skin from losing weight.
This flap of skin is called the primordial pouch and it is there for a reason.
Many cat owners have fallen prey to a cat’s belly trap. This happens when the cat rolls onto its back and exposes its soft fluffy belly. Any cat lover will be tempted to give that area a good rub.
When doing so, it will trigger a not-so-favorable response from the cat which usually results in a bite or scratch.
Many cats are very sensitive when it comes to their bellies because it is a vulnerable area. When a cat gets into a fight with other cats or when attacked by a predator, any injury to its belly can cause severe harm to its major organs.
This is why the primordial pouch is there to serve as a thicker layer of protection against any form of injury.
If your cat happens to lose weight after its surgery, the stomach might appear to be saggier than usual due to more loose skin.
What Can Go Wrong After A Cat Gets Spayed?
Most spay procedures happen without any complication but there are times when things can go wrong after the surgery.
The more common problems will be an infection at the incision site, accumulation of blood and fluid at the wound, suture bursting, uterine infection and inflammation.
This issue can be resolved if you let your vet know early when a complication arises. If extra medical attention is required, you will have to bring your cat back to the clinic.
What To Expect After Spaying Your Cat?
For most cat owners, the spaying procedure does sound a lot worse than it really is. But most cats can be up and about after a week or so.
I would strongly suggest that you have your cat wear a cone or recovery vest to prevent it from licking and biting at the wound.
Do what you can to improve your cat’s quality of life during the recovery process as it will be in pain. Keep it isolated in a quiet room and make sure that it doesn’t move around much.
The weight gain will slowly return once your cat’s appetite is back to normal.