Do Cats Need Pain Medicine After Neutering?

by Elisa Black-Taylor
(USA)

Cassie and Mandy spayed

Cassie and Mandy spayed

Cassie and Mandy spayed Lola's ruptured incision

Do cats need pain medicine after spay/neutering? I really need your input on this one readers. Also on the time to feed a pet after the surgery.

Let me explain the way things are done in my area. Food and drink are withheld after 11p.m. the night before the surgery. Then between 7:30-8:30 a.m. my cats Mandy and Cassie were dropped off at the Humane Society clinic, paperwork is filled out, and my cats had surgery to be spayed.

At 4:30p.m. I was allowed to pick up my cats with instructions on how they were to be cared for. The clinic stresses they can have dry food but no water until the next morning. They said the cats are too out of it they need to stay in the carrier overnight and drinking water could lead to choking.

My cats were not sent home with any pain medication. This is not unusual for me, but I ended up facing a LOT of criticism on Facebook. Most on the absence of pain medication, a few on the holding back of food and water.

Let me say Mandy and Cassie took a LONG nap that lasted until 10pm. Although they were plastered (term for seriously drunk) when they arrived home, they were sober after the nap and both ate and drank before going back to bed.

Neither of them seemed in much pain. Mandy even went to bed with me and was relocated back to the living room when she tried to sleep on my face.

At what point do all of you feed your cats after surgery? Especially spaying, which is more intrusive than the neutering the males go through.

Now lets move onto the pain medication after spaying. I'm not even going to involve internet references. It's just much easier to describe what I've been through.

I've adopted cats from Pickens, Oconee, Greenville, Greenwood and Anderson Counties in S.C. and the surgery was required before the animal left the shelter. I've had strays operated on at private vets who didn't give pain medicines post-surgery.

Their argument is they want the cat in a little pain because if the cats were too active it could pull the glue or stitches and the incision site could open. This happened with Lola last year and she had to go back to the clinic and be reglued. Here's the story link with Lola's incision when it opened up from playing too hard after the operation: We had a bad week by Furby.

I'd like to throw in my observations that the incision is WAY smaller than years ago. So the surgery probably isn't as painful as in the old days.

I've heard from a few vet techs and a few cat owners who stress the importance of a pain free cat. After all, a cat not in pain will eat and drink more than a cat who is suffering.

So what can all of the cat lovers at pictures-of-cats.org tell me about pain medicine and feeding protocol?

I'm curious to see if the no pain medicine clinics are the norm or just in the state I live in (South Carolina).

I feel I used good old-fashioned common sense in my decision to feed them later that night.

Comments anyone? How did you handle neutering or any other major cat surgery? And when do you feed post surgery.

Elisa

From Do Cats Need Pain Medicine After Neutering? to Cat Health Problems

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Do Cats Need Pain Medicine After Neutering?

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Apr 12, 2011
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Personal Post-Op Experience
by: Gail (Boston, USA)

Both Sadie and Abby were spayed prior to me adopting them; however, from personal experience I can say that after deviated septum surgery, I was not given pain medication. My doctor had to give me a constant IV pain drip during surgery since the pain meds kept wearing off too quickly (I was awake during surgery). Post-op, the nurse told me no water or food for 24/hrs. They would only give me ice chips on my lips. They said I'd get sick from the anesthesia and may choke if I ate too soon. (It's probably the same with animals.)

Of course, I had my brother smuggle in a meatball sub and carbonated soda. After one sip and one bite of each, I became so nauseous, I heaved uncontrollably. That's how the nurse knew I didn't listen and she said "Good! I told you so." (sounded like my mother, LOL) Needless to say, I slept soundly after that for a solid day, then could only eat very lightly. As a human going through that ordeal, I do understand what the vets are talking about.

Our shelter won't release an animal after spay/neuter until they heal. We seldom use collars since most animals don't bother their incisions. The meds team watches the animals very closely,keeping detailed records for follow-up. That helped Abby, who apparently had a reaction to her spay and returend to surgery immediately. She recovered quickly and has been fine since.


Apr 09, 2011
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Remaining thoughts
by: Anonymous

Shelters are different. They have limited funding and can sometimes only offer injections at the time of, no pain meds to go home. Some shelters offer pain meds to go home at an additional charge. They have a different purpose which is to reduce over population so there is less euthanasia. Spay a cat and send home with no pain meds or euthanize the 6 kittens it would have? That's the decision they are faced with. As an owner you can pay for you pet to have pain medication.
Animals have been misunderstood and previously treated poorly but as we advance we know what not to do. Science is ever evolving and doctors are constantly educating themselves.
One last comment, ask any woman if it hurt after her hysterectomy... keeping in mind this is abdominal surgery for animals!


Apr 09, 2011
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Absolutely!!!
by: Anonymous

Okay, it's not a matter of opinion whether or not there is pain, there is science that proves there is pain. Inflammatory pathways are initiated with surgery and that inflammation causes pain. Once pain pathways are initiated they continue and the threshold to stop the pain increases and increases. Simple said, if you prevent the "wind up" of the pathway by giving pain medication pre-op and post-op you can control pain with 1 pill. If you do not give pain medication pre and post op and the next day decide "oh, maybe the animal is painful" and want to give medication you will have to use more than 1 pill to get the same pain relief.
Animals do not show pain the way people do... they don't sit there and complain! They are instinctively supposed to hide illness and pain because they then would be preyed upon.
Also, when an animal feels pain it doesn't have the higher thinking like a human. It can't rationalize the pain and say oh I just had surgery I know it will hurt the first couple days and then it will get better. The only thing the animal knows is that it hurts now and there is no end to this pain.
Furthermore, when young animals have pain and
it is not treated, the actual nervous system can change in the way it perceives pain. So, in the future when this animal goes through a painful event the body actually will see this as a more painful event than the average animal would. In other words if it gets pain medication now when it's older and "stubs its toe" it will only say "ouch" instead of feeling like its toe is broken.

As far as food and water. The purpose of fasting is so that there is not regurgitation of stomach contents under anesthesia leading to aspiration pneumonia. Your larynx cannot close to protect your airway when under anesthesia. There is a endotracheal tube to help prevent that but it's not absolute. After surgery if the animal is able to walk sit stand and respond then it can have small amounts of food and water. Some drugs used can cause nausea so you don't want to offer too much food and water and cause vomiting. I don't with hold water because by the time they have surgery it's been at least 2 plus hours which is plenty of time for the stomach to empty water.
Shelters are different. They have limited funding and can sometimes only offer injections at the time of, no pain meds to go home. Some shelters offer pain meds to go home at an additional charge. They have a different purpose which is to reduce over population so there is less euthanasia. Spay a cat and send home with no pain meds or euthanize the 6 kittens it would have? That's the decision they are faced with. As an owner you can pay for you pet to have pain medication.


Apr 09, 2011
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Ok....
by: JFred

Situation 1:

You have had abdominal surgery and your doctor tells you that you don't need pain medication. You wake up from surgery, flailing around, painful and confused. You're sent home and you lay curled up, in agony but don't have the ability to tell your caretaker that you are hurting.

Situation 2:

You have had abdominal surgery and you're given pain medication before surgery. You wake up confused, but with your pain controlled. You're sent home with pain medications that you hate, but the person that takes care of you gives it to you as labeled. Your pain level is managed properly. Some of the medications sedate you slightly so you are pain free and can sleep well.

Are we really discussing this? Cats feel pain and emotion. They remember.

I've been working in the vet field for 10 years and in regards to food intake post-op...they need to eat as soon as they are ambulatory. We won't send home our patients if they refuse food. Even our neuters get pre-op pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication and an injectable intrascrotal anesthetic block.

NONE of our patients require e-collars.
NONE of them chew apart their incisions.
NONE of them are painful.
ALL of them eat.

With all of the knowledge and advances in veterinary medicine, why would we keep ourselves in the dark and use an 'old fashioned' method that we know is painful to the animals we claim to love so much?


Apr 09, 2011
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My opinion (food and water)
by: Dont Declaw Cats

As far as the debate to feed and give water:

Your cat has been without water and food since midnight (just as an example). Going with out food and water for an extended amount of time (12-24 hours) can and will cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and dehydration. Both of these can have serious implications.

Dehydration can cause: increased heart rate, low blood pressure, decreaed urine output, dry mouth, lethargy, sunken eyes, poor skin turgor, delayed capillary refill times, and possible shock. **Dehydration delays the healing process.

Hypoglycemia (more common in young animals) can cause lethargy, altered mentation, delays healing, and seizures.

This is why all of our animals during recovery are given a small amount of puppy/kitten canned food. The food is offered as soon as they are sitting up. Most of the dogs will eat the food as soon as they are offered. Many of the cats will eat once you walk away from the cage.

Usually about an hour later, we offer more food. And they usually eat that offering too.

Our hospital used to not administer the first pain medication until many hours after surgery. None of these animals ate. When we changed our pain management protocol, is when we saw the change in eating habits in our surgerical recovery patients.

Feeding the canned food is good for two reasons. They are getting food to help avoid hypoglycemia and getting water to help avoid dehydration. Both of these will help in the healing process.


Apr 09, 2011
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My opinion...(pain medication)
by: Dont Declaw Cats

The benefits of pain medication: Unrelieved pain may induce a state of stress or distress in which the animal diverts an excessive amount of energy away from healing simpley to cope with pain. Pain management reduces anxiety, decresess the stress response with its associated hormonal and metabolic derangements, and allows the patient to get the needed rest needed for more rapid recovery. -Dr. Peter Hellyer

-Cats are stoic!!!
-Cats hide their pain.
-Cats suffer in silence.
-Cats in pain look and act much differently
to dogs in pain.
-Vets are very cavalier about administering pain
medications to cats.
-Cats are second class citizens -to owners (not
any of us =) and to many vets.

A smaller incision does not mean less pain. To remove the uterus it must be clamped and then ligated, very tightly. Then the uterus is cut with a scapel blade. This causes pain!! Not to mention the abdominal muscles that had to be cut through.

When you make the incision into the abdominal wall and uterus you are also cutting through nerves. Cutting these nerves is painful. Take for instance the declawed cat waking up from surgery after all the ampuations...they are usually FREAKING out!! Much of this is from nerve pain. Not to mention the pain from cutting through tendons and ligements.

I will say the younger the animal the better they seem to bounce back, but pain medication is still given to the younger ones. Young = 6 months and younger.

Shelter medicine is a different breed. Im not bashing it (I have worked in a shelter, so I know how it goes) but they practice a different kind of medicine. The shelters have to. Its more of a heard health medicine. They have limited money and supplies to deal with an over abundance of animals that they must care for. That being said, we still gave pain medication to all of our animals after surgery.

Cats and pain...Im still looking for this great article I saw on cats with pain. Long and short...It explained cats and their pain and how most of it would not be picked up by most people (to include many veterinary docs and techs).

Something to ask yourself(s). If you had the same surgery/injury, would you be taking pain medication?? In most cases the answer is yes. So why should it be any different for the animals?? They can not speak to us, so we must be their advocates!!!


Apr 09, 2011
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Pain meds after spaying/neutering
by: Aimee

I had Libby and Indy spayed-neutered in December. I did not get any pain meds to give them and honestly it never occurred to me as it's never been given to me with any of my other cats either. Libby was dancing and running in circles when she came home and it took a lot to settle her down. She was just as active and playful after surgery as before.. just a little more wound having been in a carrier and or kennel for most of the day. Indy was his normal self as well. I noticed nothing different about either of them though would have hurried them to the vet if they had.
The few occasions I've used pain meds on cats haven't been all that great. One cat that I gave them to would walk into walls and get lost and disoriented in the house. The only med that doesn't seem to have that reaction in my cats is childrens tylenol.. which helps but doesn't impair them otherwise. So I guess my answer is that you did what was right and they are going to be fine. Talk it over with your vet next time and see what they say.. I know I will from now on.. maybe they did give them a long lasting pain shot.. as for food and water.. Libby and Indy drank tons when they got home.. and had a light dinner and all was normal. Apparently it's not just country as much as vet within the country too.


Apr 09, 2011
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Yes 'Some' pain relief should be given
by: Jo Skitt

Over here in the UK, we have to keep them off food from 6pm & off water from 8pm the night b4 the operation (any operation including dental work).We have to get them at the vets for between 8:30am & 9am)
After their operation, we are allowed to pick them up between 4pm & 5pm usually & are advised they can have water & light food if they want it - this usually means a little bit of cooked chicken & Rice or cooked fish & rice. after the initial 24hours have passed they can eat their normal moist food, dried food also if no dental problems.

They are given an antibiotic injection to ensure infection does not set in & sometimes a weeks course of anti-biotics, they are also given a pain killing injection that is supposed to last a couple of days.
For the boys the operation is relatively simple (like it is for men so they get over op in a couple of days usually) However for the girls it is a major op & they need 10 days to allow them to recover. They usually have one of those victorian collars on to stop them picking at their stitches & are kept indoors.

I used to put mine in a cage overnight in the bedroom with me so that she could not climb/jump whilst we was asleep & do herself a mischief. They was a little stiff due to the op.

No painkiller should take away ALL the pain, but it should take away the excess so that you can sit, stand, sleep, eat in relative comfort - pain is there as a warning not to overdo it. When i had my op my pain killers did not kill all my pain for the same reason because you do forget yourself.

I hope this answers some of the question


Apr 09, 2011
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Care of cats
by: Ruth

Imagine waking up yourself after an internal operation, thankfully I've never experienced it, but your mouth must be very dried out.
Naturally a groggy cat would not be given a dish of water, but she would have her mouth and lips moistened with it. Of course she wouldn't be given a drink too soon with the chance of aspiration. I thought that went without saying. Imagine trying to swallow dry food with a dry throat, it all seems wrong to me.
All the fancy clinics nowadays and technical stuff can not replace the proper care of animals after surgery, by someone who really does care.
You do right to bring your cats home Elisa, leaving them without any care all night is just unthinkable. So is no pain medication !
But when I think of cats given no pain medication by some vets after ten amputations, so that they don't jump around and open up their wounded stumps, I'm not surprised those vets think the same about spaying.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Apr 08, 2011
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Clinic and vet
by: Elisa

The main reason I like the clinic is because the animal can go home where we can keep an eye on them. There are NO 24 hr vets anywhere near where I live and the vets go home around 5:30 pm and come back in at 8am. That's too long for a post surgical cat to be left alone. At least at home we'll know they're being cared for. There's also the high risk of picking up a URI if left overnight. I did wait until the girls had slept off the anesthesia before offering them any water. They didn't eat or drink much. Just a little then they went back to sleep.


Apr 08, 2011
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My 2 cents worth
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

I think the denial of water is because of the cats being possibly groggy following the operation and aspirating. It makes a lot of sense to me that they could have dry food, but not water. I imagine they could have thickened liquids, but it's hard enough to convince humans who need it to drink that stuff-- no cat would touch it. I think it makes sense to be careful about aspiration, since it can cause pneumonia. But I think they are letting these cats go home too soon. If the cat is still so groggy that she's likely to choke on water then she should be where the vet can observe her.

I was given the responsibility of getting Mittens spayed 20 years ago, and she was kept overnight. I don't know what she was given for pain before leaving the pet hospital, but she seemed to be doing very well when I picked her up. There was this loud howling from in the back audible the minute I walked in, like someone was torturing a cat back there, and as soon as they brought Mitsy out it stopped. It must have been her. I thought at the time that she must have heard my car (noisy, rumbly, window rattling glasspack muffler on it) and started shrieking immediately, as if to say, "I'm back here, and you won't believe what they did to me!"


Apr 08, 2011
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Lola
by: Elisa

In the article picture of Lola's incision when the glue unglued, I emailed that photo to the clinic that did the surgery. They had me bring her back in the next morning to have her reglued. They said she had an allergic reaction to the glue.


Apr 08, 2011
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Pain Medications for cats
by: Paw-Paw John

My wife and I have rescued over 200 cats during our eight years in rescue. We are responsible for the majority of them being altered. During this time, we have never had one cat sent home with pain meds.

The way I understand the procedure is that everything the cat needs is given at the time of surgery. The lasting effects of the anesthesia is designed to keep the cat from becoming too active too soon after surgery. The pain, if any, would come from being overly active and pulling against the incision points. I constantly observe my cats after surgery, and none of them have ever shown any signs of being in pain as a result of being altered.

I believe that the reason vets do not give pain meds after the surgery is that, if the cat does show signs of pain, this may indicate that something is wrong and needs to be treated. Giving meds would keep the cat from behaving as though something is wrong, and that could lead to greater complications.

I observed this with one of my cats who did pull her outer stitches open. I noticed that her behavior was different from what I had seen in my other female cats. She was walking slowly and carefully, as if guarding her hind section. I was immediately able to get her the attention she needed. If she had been on pain meds, I may have not noticed until infection had set in.

Having gone through some recent surgery, I can tell you that not all procedures call for pain meds. The trick is to carefully observe your cat after surgery and look for any signs that the cat is in pain, which again may indicate that something is wrong and requires your immediate attention.


Apr 08, 2011
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Pain
by: Michael

I'll presume that female cats feel considerable pain after the operation. Males probably feel pain and/or discomfort but I am not sure the degree of the pain.

Either way pain meds are indicated if a cat is likely to feel pain after an operation.

That is what would happen to a person. I don't see a difference.

It would be astonishing if a person was refused pain killers after an operation in a hospital.

The problem is that cats don't show their discomfort or can't communicate it.

This seems to encourage vets to be cavalier about administering analgesics.


Apr 08, 2011
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Neutering pain
by: Ruth

As you know I'm a retired vet nurse and a bit out of touch now of course with the latest anesthetics etc. But I'd have thought with anesthetics being safer and improving all the time and spayed cats returning home the same day, where we used to keep them overnight, that pain medication would be updated too.
In my day any cat being neutered, male or female, would be given long lasting pain medication by injection at the time of the operation.
Males were soon up and about and went home the same day with instructions to feed them a light meal the first night and to keep them in the house and warm for a few days.
Females usually just slept overnight and went home the next morning with instructions to feed them a light meal and to keep them in and warm until after the stitches were taken out in a week to ten days.
I think our UK vets would be shocked at the idea of no pain medication given so the cat didn't move about much and witholding a drink of water too. But it seems that to most USA vets, cats are second class citizens.
The incision may be smaller Elisa but a spay is still the equivalent to a hysterectomy and no less painful. But as always, cats are so stoic they suffer in silence.
It's amazing just how resilient and accepting they are but in my opinion too much so, because if they created a fuss like people and dogs do, people would understand they feel pain and fear and shock as equally as all living beings do.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Apr 08, 2011
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Do Cats Need Pain Medicine After Neutering?
by: Riverside Robyn

With my vet, it is an option. It is only $8-$10 more, and for my peace of mind, worth it. When I bring my pets home after neutering, I place them near me in a quiet location in either my bedroom or office. This way, I can observe and comfort them and they stay calm.

Don't worry Elisa--your cats are recovering and will live long happy lives.



Comments

Do Cats Need Pain Medicine After Neutering? — 1 Comment

  1. I think if the cats were given the choice I am sure they would pick the medication. They do not have a voice. For the $25. I would not deny my cat a possible pain free experience. I have had surgery myself and could not imagine someone telling me that I was denied pain meds or if someone told me that I would heal better if I did not move around too much so therefore it would be better to not have pain medication. Try to be a responsible owner with a heart. Give them the meds they deserve

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