Complications After Feline Spaying

Updated November 21, 2016

A spay, also known as an ovariohysterectomy (removal of the ovaries and uterus), is a surgical procedure performed on a female cat by a veterinarian. The surgery is not only performed to prevent pregnancy but also limits a cat's risk of some cancers. Cats undergo spay surgeries every day and the procedure is very safe; however, complications may arise following the surgery.


Pain is a common problem for cats after a spay surgery. A cat in pain after surgery may pant, tremble, hide, growl, hiss or bite at her stitches. Some cats may not eat for a few days if they are in pain. You can minimise or prevent pain by keeping your cat indoors in a quiet place. According to cat health information site Pet Informed, “Pets that are allowed to run around after surgery are more likely to traumatise and move their sutures, leading to swelling and pain of the surgical site.” Your cat will be in less pain if you reduce her activity. Your vet may also prescribe medication.

Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding is a rare complication that can occur after a spay surgery and is usually seen in active cats. The Sarnia Animal Hospital notes, “This can occur if a ligature around a blood vessel breaks or slips off after the abdomen has been closed.” Weakness, depression, anorexia, pale gums or a distended abdomen are common signs of internal bleeding. It is important to contact your veterinarian immediately if your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms.


An infection can occur around the incision area or internally. It is more likely to occur if the cat licks the incision site excessively or lives in a damp environment. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends distracting your cat from licking the incision area with treats. You may also consider using shredded paper instead of cat litter, as dust from the litter can also cause an infection. The odds of infection also increase if the incision area gets wet or comes in contact with faeces, urine or dirt. Check the incision daily for any redness, swelling or discharge. If you notice any signs of infection it’s important to contact your veterinarian. Antibiotics can usually clear up the infection.

Incision Breakdown

It is fairly common for partial or complete breakdown of the skin sutures or stitches to occur. According to Pet Informed, “It is possible for the spay incision site to break down days to weeks after desexing [spaying], resulting in an open, rotten-looking, fleshy hole in the female cat's abdominal skin.” Wound breakdown occurs if the cat licks or pulls at her structures. It may also occur if she is too active after surgery. Contact your vet if this occurs.

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