After a surgical procedure in which the veterinarian has to make an incision on your cat's body, such as a spaying, your cat will have a sutured wound that needs to heal. Because cats clean themselves by licking their bodies, your cat will try to lick the wound or even pull out the surgical closures due to the pain and itching of the incision site. To protect the incision and give it a chance to heal, you may want to cover it to prevent your cat from causing an infection with persistent licking or scratching of the area.
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Things you need
- Electric clippers
- Sterile gauze pad
- Povidone-iodine (PVPI) topical antiseptic, such as Betadine
- Antibiotic ointment
- Medical tape
- Vet wrap-bandaging tape
- Rectangular piece of linen
- Cat T-shirt
Place an E-collar, also called an Elizabethan collar, over your cat's head and tie it in place. This cone-shaped collar will prevent your cat from licking any incisions on its body or from touching incisions on its face. The collar will allow you to bandage your cat without its biting or scratching at you or its incision. Leave the collar on after you bandage its wound to keep your cat from trying to pull off the wound covering.
Trim the hair around the incision, if your veterinarian has not already done so, using electric clippers. This trimming keeps the area sterile and allows the bandage to stick to your cat's skin. Wipe away the excess hair with a damp sterile gauze pad.
Clean the wound with a Betadine solution. Dilute one part Betadine solution in 10 parts water, according to the "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook". Moisten a sterile gauze pad with the solution and use it to dab the incision lightly. Dry the incision by dabbing it with a dry gauze pad. Apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment to the area.
Place several sterile gauze pads over the incision and secure them in place with medical tape along the edges of the gauze. For areas on the legs, feet or tail, use vet wrap-bandaging tape to cover the taped gauze, and wrap the soft material around the appendage to further protect the incision and keep the dressing in place. Do not wrap the wound tightly because this can cut off circulation to the area.
Measure the length and circumference of your cat's midsection. Cut a rectangular piece of linen at least 6 inches longer than the circumference and as wide as the length. Wrap it over the bandage and dressing on your cat's body. Make cuts, about 2 inches apart, along the two shorter edges of the fabric, about 2 1/2 inches in length, to give the wrap "tails". Use these tails to tie the linen wrap together, knotting each set of "tails" together to keep the wrap in place. Instead of a wrap, you can also place a cat-sized T-shirt on your cat to cover a bandaged incision on its back or abdomen.
Tips and warnings
- Consult with your veterinarian if you feel the need to cover an incision after surgery for any reason, such as if your cat has pulled out a suture or the area appears infected. He can give you further advice on what to do and may want you to bring your cat in for an exam of the wound.
- Substitute a sterile saline solution for the Betadine solution to clean the incision, according to The Cat Health Guide.
- Clip your cat's nails before dressing its wound to prevent it from scratching you while you dress its incision.
- If an incision opens up after you bring your cat home, temporarily dress the wound with a bandage and take your cat back to your veterinarian immediately.
- Initially, you can substitute one part, 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide solution, diluted in five parts water to clean the wound. Do not use this more than once as the peroxide can damage the tissue, according to the "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook".
- Wash your hands before cleaning and applying medications to your cat's incision. You can also wear sterile latex gloves during this process to prevent infection.
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- Vet Surgery Central; Laparoscopic Cystotomy for Bladder Stone Removal; Dr. Daniel A. Degner
- "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"; Debra M. Eldredge, DVM, et al.; 2007
- The Cat Health Guide: Cat Wound Care
- PetPlace.com; Is My Cat's Incision Healing Normally?; Dr. Dawn Ruben
- Vetinfo: Cat Post-Surgery Care
- PetEducation.com; Incisions and Healing in Animals; Holly Nash, DVM