Taking your cat back home after a visit to the vet

All cats need regular veterinary checks to maintain their health. Sometimes, either for a routine operation or when an illness or disease is identified, your cat may have to stay at the clinic for a period of time. Whether your cat goes home the same day or several days later, this advice gives you some guidance about caring for your cat when you get them back home.

Going home

When your cat goes back home after a stay at the veterinary clinic:

  • If it has had an anaesthetic that day, your cat may still be subdued and unsteady on its feet.
  • Cats may be nervous and disorientated on returning home - talk to them and stroke or groom them gently, allowing them to initiate closer contact whenever they are ready, and use the synthetic cat pheromone Feliway® to add reassurance and security to the home.
  • Try to prevent your cat licking any wound or pulling any stitches present. If this happens, contact the clinic and ask about a special soft collar for your cat to wear temporarily.
  • Call the clinic if you have any concerns such as the wound looking red, swollen or discharging; or if you feel that your cat is not recovering well.
  • Make sure any medication is given as instructed, and the full course is completed.
  • Pain can be difficult to recognise in cats. Signs include loss of appetite, hiding or being withdrawn. If you have any cause for concern, contact the clinic for advice.
  • You will probably be advised to keep your cat indoors, at least for the night when it returns home, but possibly for longer, depending on the operation or treatment.
  • Provide a quiet, warm spot in the house for your cat to convalesce – with food, water and a litter tray (keeping the tray away from the food).

Re-introduction to other cats at home

Your cat will have picked up unfamiliar scents while at the clinic. This may be more marked if it has stayed overnight or longer. These smells may provoke anxiety if you have other cats at home. It is best to re-introduce the returning cat gently:

  • Make sure you are present to assess the response when the cats are re-introduced.
  • Don’t overwhelm the returning cat with attention from humans, other cats or dogs.
  • Keep the cats apart initially so that the returning cat can pick up the familiar smells of home.
  • If any bedding was left with the cat in the clinic, wash this when you get it home to remove smells of the clinic. Put fresh bedding in with the returning cat that smells of home.
  • Mix the cats’ scents by stroking one and then the other, particularly around the head area, and perhaps exchange their bedding.
  • If needed, keep your cats in separate rooms for a few hours, or a day or two and allow some gradual supervised contact.

Spray the areas of your home where the cats spend most of their time with the synthetic cat pheromone (scent) ‘Feliway®’, if this is available. 

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