How long do cats and cats recover from anesthesia after castration and sterilization

How long do cats and cats recover from anesthesia after castration and sterilization? In a city apartment, the normal sexual behavior of an adult cat can create a lot of inconvenience for people. Therefore, owners of cats and cats that are not used in breeding often turn to veterinary clinics for the castration of pets.

A timely operation allows you to avoid uncontrolled reproduction, reduce the risk of certain diseases in the pet (neoplasms of the uterus and mammary glands, polycystic ovaries, etc.), as well as get rid of a number of behavioral problems. In addition, the average life expectancy of neutered pets is higher than that of non-neutered pets. Experts of the veterinary network Banfield Pet Hospital in a report for 2013 indicated that neutered cats live 62% longer, and sterilized cats ― 39% longer than. This is largely due to the fact that neutered pets are less likely to interact with other cats and do not seek long-distance unauthorized walks in search of a sexual partner. Due to this, they are less likely to get injured and are less at risk of contracting infectious diseases.

Despite all the advantages of castration, it is a serious surgical intervention. Both during the operation and after it, careful monitoring of the pet’s condition is required.


Castration of males and sterilization of females is carried out under general anesthesia, which is necessary both for reasons of humanity and in order to reduce stress for the pet (turn off the perception of pain) and ensure safe surgery of the surgeon (disabling motor reflexes in cats under anesthesia, muscle relaxation).

Modern drugs used to anesthetize animals are quite safe. However, due to the peculiarities of physiology and the small size of the cat’s body during anesthesia and immediately after it, they need increased attention from the veterinarian.

Before performing an operation requiring general anesthesia, the pet should be examined so that the veterinarian can choose the most appropriate medications, their doses and combination.

On the day of the operation, care should be taken to ensure that the pet’s stomach is not filled with food before being put into a state of anesthesia. The cat can drink water at least 2 hours before the operation.


The classification developed by Arthur Ernest Gwedel in 1937 describes the four stages of anesthesia:

  1. The stage of addiction or analgesia is the time between the administration of the drug and loss of consciousness. The cat falls into a state of drowsiness, but reacts to sounds and touches.
  2. The stage of arousal is the period after loss of consciousness, characterized by increased motor reflexes. Random movements may occur, unconscious aggression may manifest. Breathing becomes frequent, shallow and irregular, increased salivation, nausea and vomiting, involuntary urination and defecation may occur.
  3. The surgical stage is characterized by sedation, lack of reaction to painful stimuli, relaxation of muscles, slowing down and stopping eye movement. This is the optimal stage for surgical interventions.
  4. The stage of awakening begins from the moment the substance is stopped. When coming out of anesthesia, the body to some extent goes through all the stages again, but in reverse order.


The duration of recovery after anesthesia depends on the drugs that were used for general anesthesia and the state of health of the pet. If a cat has even minor disorders in the kidneys or liver, the excretion of drugs from her body proceeds more slowly, and the recovery period is lengthened.

Many veterinary clinics offer to leave the pet in the hospital after the operation. The cat is placed in a separate box with an optimal microclimate, monitored and provided with the necessary care until complete recovery after anesthesia, which can take from 8 hours to a day.


If the veterinary clinic does not provide postoperative hospital services or the owner wants to be near his pet at the time of his awakening and recovery from anesthesia, the cat can be taken home earlier. However, you should not rush to leave the veterinary clinic.

Most of the complications associated with withdrawal from anesthesia appear in cats in the first 3 hours after the end of the operation. It is during this period that you need to constantly monitor the pet’s condition in order to quickly help him if necessary. The veterinarian monitors the cat’s heart rate, pulse quality, frequency and nature of respiratory movements, oxygenation, blood pressure and body temperature until these indicators return to normal values.

Passing the cat to the owner, the veterinarian will definitely give him a detailed statement, which reflects medical appointments and recommendations for postoperative care.


Usually, when transferred to the owner, the pet is conscious, reacts to sounds and touches, but shows noticeable drowsiness and impaired coordination of movements. Some cats may show signs of arousal and even aggression when coming out of anesthesia. For transportation home, you need to provide the cat with a closed box, in which she will feel calmer.

The owner needs to take into account that the cat’s body temperature decreases during anesthesia, and after the operation she will need warmth. It is necessary to lay a thick and warm enough litter on the bottom of the carrier and prepare a diaper or a small blanket to cover the pet. In some cases, you may need a heating pad or a plastic bottle of warm water wrapped in a towel to replace it.

In the state of general anesthesia of the cat, there is no blinking reflex. Before its recovery, you can periodically instill saline solution, an artificial tear into the pet’s eyes, or gently close his eyelids with your fingers to prevent the cornea from drying out.


After delivering the cat home, you need to arrange it on a couch in a warm place where the pet will not be disturbed by noise, drafts and bright light. At the same time, it should be convenient for the owner to observe the cat, monitor its condition and help it when moving. It is important to remember that at first the coordination of movements of the pet will be disrupted. Therefore, it is better to place a couch on the floor and not allow the cat to climb onto sofas and armchairs until full recovery, in order to prevent accidental falls and injuries.

It is better to put the toilet tray near the resting place so that the pet can easily get to it. It is desirable to reduce the filler layer for the cat’s toilet to a minimum or temporarily replace it with newspapers, absorbent diaper, toilet paper. This will prevent small particles of filler from entering the castration wound of the cat or the suture area of the cat.

Temporary difficulties with movement and control of urination can lead to the fact that the cat will relieve itself past the tray. Do not get annoyed because of this, it is better to prepare absorbent diapers in advance and lay them on the cat’s bed and the floor near the cat toilet.

In the first day after anesthesia, the cat can sleep more than usual. At the same time, it reacts to the owner’s voice and touch. If the pet reacts unusually weakly to external stimuli or the owner fails to wake him up, it is necessary, without delay, to seek advice from the veterinarian who performed the operation. Also, counting the respiratory movements can help the owner in monitoring the pet’s condition after anesthesia. The breathing rate of a sleeping cat should not exceed 27 breaths per minute. A higher respiratory rate is a reason to go to a veterinary clinic.

It is undesirable to leave the cat unattended during the first day after anesthesia. If the owner needs to leave the house for a short time, during his absence it makes sense to put the pet in a closed and safe space, for example, in a special cage or a cat carrier.

The owner must monitor the condition of the stitches in the cat or the castration wound in the cat at least twice a day. Suture treatment is carried out with a disinfectant solution according to the recommendations of a veterinarian.

After sterilization, a postoperative blanket is most often put on the cat, protecting the suture area from contamination and licking. Until the wound is completely healed, it can be removed only for examination and treatment of seams, as well as for replacing a dirty blanket with a clean one. It is recommended to wear a postoperative collar on the cat to prevent the licking of the castration wound.

If increased drowsiness, weakness, impaired coordination of movements do not go away for more than a day or the pet’s condition inspires the owner with concerns for other reasons, it is necessary to seek advice from the veterinarian who performed the operation.


The time of the first feeding after anesthesia should be clarified with the veterinarian who performed the operation. Usually, it is allowed to give the pet food 1-2 hours after waking up.

For the first meal, easily digestible and soft in consistency feeds are preferred. If the pet is accustomed to eating dry food and refuses to eat wet, you can offer him the usual food by softening the granules in warm water. The serving size should be temporarily reduced to ⅓ from the usual! The return to the usual portion size is carried out gradually, over several days.

In the first days after the operation, it is not necessary to make significant changes to the diet familiar to the pet, so that the stress of surgery does not add stress from switching to a new food. Exceptions are cases when a veterinarian prescribes therapeutic nutrition to a cat. After castration or sterilization, after waiting for the normalization of the general condition, the pet should be gradually transferred to the diet for sterilized cats.

On the first day after anesthesia, many cats eat less than usual or do not show any interest in food at all. This behavior can be caused by pain in the operated area of the body, as well as unpleasant sensations from the postoperative blanket or protective collar. If the rest of the pet’s condition does not cause concern, a slight decrease in appetite in the first 2-3 days after surgery can be considered a variant of the norm. However, in case of a larger decrease in appetite or complete refusal of food for longer than a day, the cat should be shown to a veterinarian.

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