Feral/Free-Roaming Feline Post-Surgical Instructions*

*These post-operative instructions apply only to feral/free-roaming cats and shouldn’t be applied to pet cats for any reason.
Today your feral/free-roaming cat was spayed or neutered, vaccinated for rabies, and ear-tipped. The following instructions will aid in the proper care and release of your feral/free-roaming cat, so please read them carefully.

Don’t transfer the cat from the trap! We will transfer the cat to an appropriate carrier immediately following surgery unless the caretaker requests otherwise.

All cats should be kept 24-48 hours in a temperature-controlled area, ideally around 72°F. Allow the cat to remain in the trap/carrier until fully recovered and ready for release. A garage may work if the weather is mild (not too cold or hot). Cover the trap loosely with a large towel or sheet for shelter, warmth, and privacy. Make sure to leave some open space so the cat can breathe fresh air. Throughout the evening, monitor the cat for alertness and any possible complications such as bleeding.

Don’t stick your finger through the trap/carrier or try to touch or handle the cat. Feral cats are scared, and they’re recovering from anesthesia. They’re not used to people, noises or new environments. You could be seriously injured by a feral cat if it bites or scratches you. ALWAYS wear sturdy, protective leather gloves if you feel that you must handle the cat. All animal bites are serious! If you’re bitten, seek medical attention, and don’t release the cat. The cat must be quarantined.

You may offer the cat water and 1/4-1/2 the amount of its regular diet the evening of surgery as long as the cat is awake and alert (canned food is an excellent option). If the cat is still sedated or groggy, withhold food and water until the cat is alert. The cat may choose not to eat the night after surgery due to post-operative nausea or because it’s scared in its surroundings. If your trap/carrier has a plastic feeding dish attached inside, water and food can be placed in the trap without having to open the trap. The cat should regain a normal appetite within 24 hours after surgery.

Place newspapers or plastic on the floor under the trap/carrier to catch any urine, feces, and food that may fall out. The trap may be carefully placed on bricks or other suitable objects to elevate it from the floor so that the cat is not lying in its own waste. If you elevate the trap/carrier, make sure it can’t topple over when the cat moves around. Carefully remove soiled newspapers and replace them if needed to keep the cat and its incision clean.

Incision area: A small amount of redness, clear- or red-tinged discharge, and swelling is normal, but excessive redness, swelling, bleeding, or green or yellow drainage is not normal. The incision area should be monitored as closely as possible without risking the safety of the handler or the cat. Artificial tears have been applied to the cat’s eyes before surgery to protect them from drying out during anesthesia. Any concerns or emergencies should be directed your veterinarian immediately at:

Ear-tip: Approximately 3/8” of the cat’s ear (left for females and right for males) has been removed during surgery. Occasionally, the ear may bleed after being tipped. The bleeding should stop within a few hours.

Male cats can often be released the morning after surgery; female cats may need to be kept for an additional day. Once the cat is alert, bright-eyed, and shows no signs of illness, it may be released. Only release cats that are fully awake! Keeping or confining a feral cat for longer than 48 hours creates increased stress for the cat, which will prevent proper healing of the surgery site. However, if bad weather or extreme temperatures are present, use good judgment to weigh the risks and benefits of keeping the cat for another day.

Always release the cat where it was trapped. Relocating cats is strongly discouraged. Cats released in a new location will not know where food, water, shelter, or area predators are located. When releasing the cat, remove the cloth cover, open the trap/carrier gate, and back away. Patiently stand back and allow the cat to leave at its own pace. Usually, it will run away immediately. Leave fresh food and water at the drop site.

Feline Post-Surgical Instructions

Your cat or kitten will need special care during recovery from surgery. Please keep your cat in a warm, quiet and safe place indoors tonight, away from other pets, children and the activities of the household. Please keep your cat away from stairs until fully awake. Be sure your cat has easy access to a litter box. Watch your cat carefully to detect any potential problems.

Restrict your cat’s activity for 7 days following surgery. Discourage running, jumping, climbing and chasing toys. Excessive activity can lead to tissue swelling, fluid accumulation under the incision or the incision opening up. These conditions may or may not require additional surgery at your expense.

Tonight, you may offer your cat small amount of food and water and a litter box. Don’t be alarmed if your cat has little or no appetite. Remember, your cat just had surgery! Your cat’s appetite should return to normal tomorrow.

Some cats take longer to recover than others due to age, weight or metabolism. Your cat may be groggy for the rest of the evening but should be acting normally tomorrow. Artificial tears have been applied to your cat’s eyes before surgery to protect them from drying out during anesthesia. Call the MN SNAP veterinarian at the number listed below if your cat doesn’t seem normal after 24 hours.

Monitor your cat’s incision daily. A small amount of swelling, dried blood or bruising around the incision may be normal the first few days following surgery. Keep in mind that green tattoo ink has been placed in or near the female’s incision to indicate that spay surgery has been performed. You may also see dried glue on the incision; this will flake off in a couple days. Some cats develop a firm, non-painful lump under the incision. This is inflammatory tissue forming around the suture buried under the skin. This will go away by itself in 2-3 weeks. If your cat seems unresponsive or in excessive pain after you take him home; or if you are seeing signs of excessive redness, other discoloration or discharge around the incision; contact your veternarian:

NOTE: If you allow your cat to resume too much activity after surgery, or to lick or scratch at the incision, your cat risks developing a scrotal hematoma (swelling of the scrotum), a seroma (fluid accumulation under the incision), infection or dehiscence (opening of the incision). If your cat’s over-activity results in the aforementioned complications, any further treatments or medications will be your responsibility.

Sutures: DO NOT need to be removed in 10 days.