Some cats might try to lick their incision site after their neutering. You should try to prevent this, cat tongues are tough enough to rip out stitches or glue that your vet placed. It’s bad for these medical dressings to get damaged or removed before your cat’s skin has healed. Your cat’s incision can also become infected if they lick it too much.
This should take about a week to ten days depending on how the vet did the operation to neuter your cat. Abdominal incisions will take slightly longer to heal.
Why do cats lick themselves after being neutered?
Cats have a natural instinct to lick their wounds. In the wild, licking a wound lets a cat clean their injruy so it can heal better. The action of licking removes dirt and their saliva contains some amount of chemicals that work as an antibacterial and pain remover.
While this would be good for a cat that has been injured in the wild, your vet has taken a lot of precautions to make the cuts that they had to make during the neutering process as clean as possible. If you let your cat lick their neutering incisions, they will only become more dirty and more likely to break.
It can be dangerous to let a newly neutered cat lick the place they were cut for two main reasons. Firstly, your cat may be introducing new harmful bacteria into the open cut. This can cause the cut to be infected which can be painful and dangerous for your cat. They will need another visit to the vet and the recovery from their neutering will be a lot more complicated.
Secondly, its normal for cuts made during the neutering process to be sealed with glue, stitches, or staples. Its entirely possible for your cat to damage these with their raspy tongues. This will leave them with an open wound and they bleed out. If your newly neutered cat’s stitches are coming out early you should limit their movement and contact your vet as soon as possible.
You may also notice your cat start to lick other parts of their body excessively shortly after their recovery. Perhaps along their legs or on their side. Licking has a self-soothing effect, kind of like how we would pull on our hair or bite our fingernails. They may also be grooming themselves to get the unfamiliar scent of other animals off of them that they picked up while at the vet.
Going to the vet and staying for an operation as invasive as neutering can be very stressful for a young cat. Its normal for them to start over-grooming out of stress. You can let this happen for a short while, but continuous over-grooming of particular areas can give your cat bald patches and skin problems. The best solution is to distract them with play or an interesting object when they start licking themselves excessively.
My cat keeps removing their e-collar
Cats are normally given e-collars after neutering. These are supposed to prevent them from grooming their own bodies. Unfortunately, a lot of cats hate wearing anything on their head and will try their best to wriggle out of them.
This is kind of understandable. Cone collars are physically uncomfortable to a cat that isn’t used to anything on their neck. On top of that, they restrict their vision and hearing quite a bit. After a stressful visit to the vets, its just another thing that makes it more difficult for them to feel comfortable at home.
If your cat regularly wriggles out of their cone to lick at their wounds after surgery, you can consider a range of different options to protect them. The first we can recommend is a “donut” style e-collar. Instead of being made from a hard plastic cone, these are soft fabric cushions that your cat can wear during recovery. You can order them online or even make one yourself from an old sock and some stuffing.
Donut collars are a lot more comfortable for your can when lounging about. They allow your cat a bit more natural movement than a plastic e-collar but will still prevent them from licking at their own wounds.
If you’ve tried different types of collars and they still don’t work, you can consider a cat recovery suit instead. These may be just as uncomfortable for your cat, but it’s a lot more difficult for them to remove. As the recovery period for neutering is fairly short, we would consider a small bit of discomfort a worthy trade for guaranteeing a healthy recovery.
It’s very normal for a cat to lick themselves after being neutered. Recently neutered cats shouldn’t lick themselves as they risk opening their wound or giving themselves an infection. Both of these outcomes will put your cat’s health at considerable risk and need another trip to the vet to ensure a healthy recovery.
Despite the complications, its very worthwhile to neuter your indoor cat. Neutering protects your cat’s health and also makes behavioral problems like spraying and over-vocalising less likely. Neutered cats are much more pleasant to live with, which is particularly essential if they are living indoors with you.