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How Long Will a Cat Take to Recover From Spaying? (Vet Answer)


Mar 1, 2023
spaying cat


spaying cat
Dr. Iuliana Mihai Photo

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The spaying surgery is a short-term and slightly painful procedure, but it has many benefits for your cat. Being a complex procedure, it requires general anesthesia.

From the end of the procedure to the total recovery of your cat, there are several steps that must be followed to help your pet get over this event.

Post-surgical recovery lasts 3 weeks on average. Twenty-four hours of close observation are usually required after your cat’s spaying procedure. After this period of time, cats can resume their daily habits and practices.

Always take into account the advice of your veterinarian, and follow it closely for your cat to recover in the shortest possible time.


What Is Spaying?

Sterilization represents the surgical removal of the reproductive organs. For female pets, it is called spaying and for males, neutering.

For female cats, spaying involves the removal of the ovaries and uterus through surgical intervention in the abdominal area. This is called an ovariohysterectomy.

vet surgeon checking cat after spaying
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Benefits of Spaying

Spaying your cat before her first menstrual cycle (heat) considerably reduces the risk of cervical and ovarian cancer. By removing the ovaries, the level of hormones that facilitate the development of cancerous tumors is reduced.

Other benefits include:

  • It reduces the risk of mammary cancer.
  • It reduces the risk of developing uterine infections called pyometra.
  • It reduces the risk of wandering, as your cat will no longer leave home to find a mate.
spaying or neutering a pet
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How Long Will My Cat Take to Recover From Spaying?

Most cats that undergo the spaying procedure will begin to feel better within 24–48 hours after the surgery. Complete recovery usually takes 10–14 days. That can feel like an eternity, especially after your cat has been spayed. But this period is necessary for your cat to recover completely and without complications. During this time, the surgical incisions will heal, and your cat will no longer feel any discomfort.

If your cat is not completely healed and you let her go outside or play intensively, it could lead to a complication that may cause you to restrict her for even longer. Too much activity and movement at the site of the surgical intervention could lead to the unraveling of the sutures. The complete opening of the stitches could cause the intestines and other organs to exit the abdomen. This is an emergency and can lead to your cat’s death if you don’t act immediately. Therefore, you must follow the post-surgical instructions of the veterinarian.

cat after spaying
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Tips to Follow in the First 24 Hours After the Spaying Procedure

Keep in mind that your cat may behave differently in the first 24 hours after the surgery. She could present the following clinical signs:

  • Glassy eyes
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Vocalization
  • Apathy

Still being under the effects of anesthesia, your cat runs the risk of hitting herself and becoming stressed due to loud noises and bright lights. Usually, full recovery from general anesthesia takes between 18 and 24 hours, but most pets recover after the anesthetic leaves the system.

Sick cat
Image Credit: Kachalkina Veronika, Shutterstock

Here are a few tips that will help your cat have a speedy recovery:

  • After you get home, put your cat in a small, quiet, and clean space without currents or strong light, in order not to stress her and to limit her movements. You can lock your cat in a room or put her in a cage.
  • Do not put your cat on the bed or other high places because she risks falling and hitting herself, being still dizzy from the anesthesia.
  • Encourage light exercise by taking your cat for short walks around the house. This exercise will help your cat eliminate the anesthetic from her system faster. Uninterrupted sleep is often associated with longer recovery.
  • Do not feed your cat while she is still under the effect of anesthesia! If your cat was spayed in the morning, the evening is a good time to offer small amounts of food and water, but this is only valid if your cat has fully recovered from anesthesia. For some pets, full recovery can take longer, and you will have to wait to give them food and water.
  • Do not panic if your cat vomits. This is normal, and it can take up to 48 hours for your cat to return to normal. If the vomiting lasts more than 48 hours or your cat vomits often, contact the veterinarian immediately.

Be patient and empathetic with your cat in the first 24 hours after the spaying procedure! She may be more anxious post-surgery or more apathetic and sadder. As soon as your cat can move and eat, she will feel much better.

Monitor your cat’s behavior. If 48 hours have passed and your cat still seems lethargic and does not want to drink or eat, contact the veterinarian because she may have developed an infection.

Also, if your cat does not urinate or defecate in the first 48 hours after the procedure, contact the vet immediately.

sick cat
Image Credit: one photo, Shutterstock


Tips to Follow in the Next 10–14 Days After Surgery

Here’s what you can do to make sure you minimize the complications that could arise following the spaying procedure:

  • Monitor your cat’s behavior throughout this period. Check if she is eating and how much, vomiting, being lethargic, etc.
  • Do not let your cat have prolonged physical activity (intense playing, long or high jumps, running around, etc.). Prolonged physical activity can increase the risk of your cat developing swelling and fluid accumulation at the incision site. It could also lead to the reopening of the incision site.
  • Do not bathe your cat for at least 10 days after the surgery and only if the incision looks healed. Also, don’t let your cat sit with her abdomen in dirty places, puddles, or snow.
  • Check the incision daily, twice a day for 14 days, to make sure it is healing properly. If the incision site is red, swollen, open, or with pus, contact the vet immediately.
  • Do not let your cat excessively lick the incision site. When the incision begins to heal, it will become itchier, and your cat will want to scratch it even harder. If the veterinarian has recommended an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) or a postoperative shirt for your cat, use it; it will prevent your pet from licking.


Spaying is a relatively simple procedure, and full recovery can take up to 14 days. As with any surgical intervention, complications can occur. These are usually represented by redness, swelling, or pus at the site of the incision. The incision site can also reopen if your cat has prolonged physical activity or grooms the area excessively. This is considered a medical emergency, and you should take your cat to the vet as soon as possible. After 14 days, your cat can resume her daily activities.

Featured Image Credit: De Visu, Shutterstock

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