Spaying your cat can be a worrying procedure. What if something goes wrong? How do you know the procedure went well? That is why cat-owners will scour through the web reading all kinds of cat forums and medical sites to prepare themselves for what to do throughout the surgery.
While all the sites seemed to have covered most things regarding the surgery, it looks like they missed one concerning symptom that normally leaves a loving cat owner worried, post-surgery: the way a cat’s sides will look sunken in afterward.
So why does that happen? That is just one of the questions we’ll be answering about that occurrence.
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Cat’s Sides Sunken In After Spaying
If you’ve ever gotten your cat spayed, you probably noticed a little pouch sticking out where her stomach is. This small pouch creates a hollowed-out look which makes your cat’s sides “sunken in.” What many cat-owners don’t know is that visual is absolutely normal for a cat who has just gotten spayed. The look usually lasts for a few days. Afterward, your cat’s body readjusts back to how she normally looked pre-surgery.
A Quick Briefer On Spaying And Its Effects
Spaying a cat involves removing the female cat’s reproductive organs (her ovaries and uterus). Medically known as an ovariohysterectomy, the procedure is performed to avoid unplanned pregnancies and aggressive behavior during your cat’s mating cycle.
This intensive surgery requires that your cat be under anesthesia or any type of sedation. The overall effect of being sedated as well as exposing the cat’s insides causes her to lose appetite. So, it’s a pretty normal occurrence that a cat will eat less around a day or two post-surgery.
But, this loss of appetite— as well as any other changes in your cat— will be improved within a week or in some rare cases; two weeks.
If there are any extreme symptoms (such as vomiting, bleeding, or diarrhea) that remain after that period, then you should contact your veterinarian.
Why Does a Cat Develop Sunken in Sides After Spaying?
The sides of a cat will often look sunken in after spaying due to multiple factors at hand. The look is mainly an illusion due to three factors:
- The noticeable weight loss your cat will endure after the surgery.
- Your cat’s missing reproductive organs.
- The pouch is noticeable only when your cat becomes thinner.
After spaying a cat, her appetite will decrease for a few days due to the surgery and sedation. This lack of eating empties her digestive tract. In other words, your cat will be losing an apparent amount of weight during the time of the surgery.
Another thing that contributes to this extreme weight loss is the fact that your cat will be missing her reproductive organs— this includes her ovaries and her uterus. This occurrence causes your cat to become visibly thinner which leads to the realization of the “pouch.”
So, What Is the Pouch?
Scientifically known as the primordial pouch, the body part is a protective layer of fat and fur that covers your cat’s most sensitive part of her body: her stomach.
Its main purpose is to shelter a cat’s stomach in case of an attack. This pouch is not obvious on a fat or average weighed cat because her body will fill out enough to appear round.
But, once the cat loses weight, she’ll often lose weight everywhere except for her stomach where the pouch is. This fact is exactly what creates the illusion of your cat’s sides looking “sunken in.”
How to Treat Your Kitty’s Sunken in Sides?
I assume that you’ve come to this section of the article as a concerned pet-lover who just wants to make sure their dear kitty will be fine. Well, I’m here to let you know that she’ll be great!
If the sunken-in look worries or bothers you too much, the main thing you need to do is help your cat recover from the surgery by following your veterinarian’s instructions.
What is typically advised is that you keep your cat indoors and isolated from other cats for a few days (cats typically play too rough with each other.) Another important thing is feeding your cat to fill up her digestive tract as well as revitalize her body.
In case you feel lost or overwhelmed, there is a great guide that clarifies everything you need to do, after the surgery, to care for your cat!
The last thing to do— which is the most important— is, simply, wait! Once your kitty is back on a normal eating schedule, she will gain back a healthy amount of weight as her body readjusts to her missing organs.
The sunken-in look will commonly last around a week or two while your cat recovers.
What To Do If The Effect Remains
In the rare case in which the effect remains after full recovery, keep in mind that it just means that your cat did not gain back too much weight— which is completely okay!
You will need to consult your veterinarian under two scenarios:
- Your cat became underweight.
- Your cat still exhibits extreme symptoms post-surgery like vomiting, bleeding, or diarrhea.
How do you know if your cat is underweight? A useful tip is to feel her neck and make sure it doesn’t feel abnormally knobby. Is there very little fat between her skin and the bone? Does she almost feel like an elder’s skinny hands?
Other than that, the look is not something to worry about at all! If anything, it means that your kitty is safe and protected by her little pouch.
Final Prescription for a Cat’s Sunken in Sides After Spaying
Seeing a cat’s sides sunken in after spay can be scary for any cat-lover, but all you need to know is that the major thing contributing to the sunken in-sides after spaying is her weight loss. So just remember the primordial pouch and how it hides your cat’s weight loss in the area of the stomach.
As long as she is well-fed and well-rested, her recovery will be smooth-sailing from here on and her body will likely readjust back to a proper equilibrium.
So just smother her with kisses and cuddles and she’ll be more than fine!
I’ve been living with cats since 2008 and I can confidently say I have more feline friends than humans lol. I currently live with 5 cats in different life stages; two of them are less than one year old, one is 2-ish years old and the oldest two are 9-ish years old. I’ve developed a strong bond with cats over the years and I’m eager to share my experience through this blog. You can learn more about my cats here.