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Is it dangerous for a cat to lick her spay incision?
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Is it dangerous for a cat to lick her spay incision?

My cat was spayed last week and seemed to be recovering well.  I checked the incision everyday and it appeared to be clean, no redness, no bleeding.  She was eating well, had energy.  I watched her carefully to ensure that she didn't bite at her stitches.  I did notice her licking the incision, but thought nothing of it.  5 days after the surgery, I noticed a clear brown discharge coming from the incision.  I took her to the vet immediately and found out that she had licked he wound, which caused an infection which had spread to her entire abdominal cavity and all of her stitches in the muscle and tissue layer had come undone.  They performed surgery immediately, removed the fluid, necrotic tissue and replaced the stitches and advised that I keep a cone on her at all times.  Since the second surgery (yesterday), she does not seem fine.  She is lethargic, hasn't eaten or had a BM and she threw up once.  I am taking her to the vet first thing this morning.  Can a cat licking an incision cause this type of infecton/complication?  Why didn't the vet tell me not to allow her to lick the wound?
Type of Animal
:  
Cat
Age of Animal
:  
6 months
Sex of Animal
:  
Female
Breed of Animal
:  
Russian Siberian
Last date your pet was examined by a vet?
:  
August 31, 2009
City
:  
Dana Point
State/Province
:  
CA
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Hi Kelly,

After surgery, it is important to use the E collar (plastic cone) 24/7 to prevent licking.
As a surgeon, I can only agree that it is an annoying but critical point.  Call it a necessary evil.

In fact, it you leave it on 24/7, your kitty will get used to it quickly. She can eat, drink, pee, poop and sleep with it.

Taking it off and putting it back on when you leave the house or go to bed may be taken as a punishment, and most pets will try to get rid of it.

As for your other questions, keep working with your vet to pin point why your kitty won't eat and has vomited.  On the poop front, if nothing goes in... not much will come out...

Good luck and please keep us posted.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS
Pet surgeon and author of a free, weekly newsletter for true pet lovers, available at DrPhilZeltzman.com
2 Comments
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685623_tn?1283485207
Hi Kelly...I am so sorry to hear that there were complications with your kitty's spay surgery and recovery.   Most of the time these surgeries have no issues whatsoever.

I would like one of our surgeons to comment on this so I will just say a couple of words here and let the experts answer your question.

I have seen many cases where pets (dogs more than cats) have caused some serious damage by licking at their surgical sites.  At our hospitals, all of our surgical releases get written post op instructions in addition to verbal instructions.  Often, owners are so anxious and excited to get their pets home, a lot of the after care instructions aren't clearly heard so we opted to give owners a written instruction list as well.

Two surgeries in this time frame plus an infection is very hard on the body and your kitty is likely having a hard time coping with everything.  Talk to your veterinarian about trying some different foods to encourage her appetite (if she stops vomiting).  

Good luck with her and I will message the surgeons to take a look at this question.

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