Cat’s Sides Sunken In After Spaying – The Notorious Pouch

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Getting your cat spayed can make any pet parent worry. You’ve probably searched everywhere for info on what to expect after the surgery. But here’s something they often don’t mention: sometimes, your cat’s sides might look sunken in afterward. Why does this happen? That’s what we’re here to talk about.

Seeing your kitty like that can be scary, but we’re going to clear up why it occurs. Understanding this weird post-surgery change will help you feel more at ease and better care for your furry buddy during their recovery. Let’s get to the bottom of this together and make sure your cat’s feeling their best after their spaying!

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 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

Cat getting spayed

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.

Must Read: Can I lock my cat out of the bedroom at night?

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.”

Related: Why is My Cat’s Coat Looking Separated?

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.

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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.

Other Possible Reasons Why Your Cat Looks Sunken In On The Sides?

Here are 4 other reasons why your cat’s hips had sunken in:

1- Signs of Dehydration

One cause of sunken-looking sides in cats is dehydration or lack of fluids. If your cat isn’t getting enough clean water, its skin can start to sag as the body loses moisture. To help, make sure fresh water is always readily available and encourage drinking by trying different water bowls or flavored waters.

2- Underlying Digestive Issues

Problems like constipation, diarrhea, vomiting and intestinal obstructions can all cause fluid loss, poor nutrient absorption and weight loss. The resulting skinny appearance and sunken sides are clear clues something is wrong. Make an appointment with your vet promptly if you notice these signs to address the underlying digestive problem.

3- Chronic Diseases

Unfortunately, many chronic feline illnesses like kidney disease, diabetes and hyperthyroidism can lead to muscle wasting and substantial weight loss over time. Sunken sides may be one symptom of these conditions. Your vet can order bloodwork and tests to definitively diagnose any disease and get treatment started. Here are some low-iodine cat food options to control your hyperthyroid cat.

4- Age-Related Changes

As cats reach their senior years, it’s common for their muscles and fat stores to diminish, giving them a thinner, bonier look. Providing nutritious food tailored for aging cats can help maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your vet about managing any age-related changes.

Final Prescription for a Cat’s Sunken in Sides After Spaying

When you see your cat’s sides looking sunken in after spaying, it can set off alarm bells. But here’s the scoop: that post-spaying change often ties in with weight loss. Remember the “primordial pouch”? It can disguise weight loss around the stomach area.

Keep your feline friend well-fed and give her plenty of rest – that’s the secret to a smooth recovery. With time, her body will likely bounce back to its usual shape.

Now, it’s all about showering her with love and snuggles. Your affection will work wonders in helping her feel great again!