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Will My Cat Be In Pain During or After a Spay or Neuter?

Cat neutering and spaying in Albuquerque can have cat owners worried about the pain their pets might experience. 

To help put your mind at ease, we’re here to explain the basics of spaying and neutering cats, how pain is limited, and tips to care for your cat following this procedure to keep them as comfortable as possible.

What are the Differences Between Spay vs. Neuter Cat Surgeries?

Both spaying and neutering are surgical procedures that prevent cats from reproducing. The main difference between the two procedures is that spaying is abdominal surgery, whereas neutering only involves an incision into the testicles. (Except in the uncommon cases of cryptorchidism, when one or both testicles are retained in the abdomen.)

Also known as ovariectomy or ovariohysterectomy, spaying removes the uterus and ovaries, while neutering a male cat removes the testicles.

What to Expect During Spaying and Neutering

Your cat is completely asleep during the spaying or neutering process, helping to keep them still and comfortable during the procedure. Here is how each procedure is performed.


Getting your cat spayed begins with placing an IV catheter to administer supportive fluids and medications to induce anesthesia. Then, your cat’s belly is shaved and aseptically cleaned. 

An incision is made in the abdomen wall, and the ovaries and the uterus are removed. The incision is closed using stitches that dissolve on their own as your cat heals. She receives an intra-operative injection of pain medication to lessen inflammation.  


To neuter a cat, the surgical staff first places an IV catheter to allow for the delivery of supportive fluids and induction drugs. The tech will then remove the fur from the cat’s testicles by plucking the fur. Shaving can cause irritation, which may make the cat more likely to lick the surgery site afterward. The site is then aseptically cleaned. 

An incision is made over each testicle. The testicles are removed, and the spermatic cord is tied off. No suture is used; the incisions close together naturally.

What to Expect Immediately After Spaying and Neutering in Albuquerque

Following the procedure, your cat may be more sedate than usual and may not display their usual level of affection or activity for up to 24 hours. Your cat will also likely be wearing an “e-collar” to prevent them from licking their surgical area. Don’t be alarmed if you see a small amount of blood immediately after surgery, as this is normal.

The effects of the anesthesia will slowly wear off. You may notice they are less interested in food than usual. Small meals are advised to go easy on their digestive system after anesthesia. 

Home Care and Recovery for Your Cat

Your female cat will have received an injection during surgery to minimize abdominal pain for 24 hours. Both males and females will go home with oral pain medications, which must be given daily until finished. Inform your veterinarian if you’re having trouble getting your cat to take their medication. There may be an alternative formula, such as a flavored liquid, which your cat may be more willing to accept.

Your cat will take 10-14 days to fully recover from their cat neutering and spaying procedure. To help promote recovery, follow these home care tips:

  • Check the surgery incision twice daily to ensure it is healing.
  • Restrict activity during this period, keeping them as calm as possible. Jumping and running can open the incision and cause inflammation.
  • Make sure to keep the e-collar in place.
  • Keep the incision dry after feline spaying.

Identifying and Responding to Complications Following Cat Neutering and Spaying

Although some redness and swelling are expected, if it seems to be getting worse or not improving after several days, this could be a sign of infection. A warm compress several times a day and vigilance about not allowing your cat to lick their surgery site may be enough to reduce inflammation. However, watch for the following signs which may indicate your cat is not recovering as expected:

  • Significant swelling at the surgical incision
  • Discharge from the incision
  • Not eating or drinking
  • Spay for female cats shows noticeable gaps in the incision

Signs of an emergency include:

  • Blood flow from the incision
  • Non-stop vomiting
  • Breathing issues
  • Continuing lethargy past 2-3 days post-op
  • A large opening at the incision site

Trust Our Albuquerque Clinic To Help Manage Your Cat’s Pain

At Petroglyph Animal Hospital, we’re a full-service veterinary facility that provides comprehensive care for pets in the Albuquerque and Rio Rancho area. With experienced and compassionate veterinarians, you can be sure your furry friends are always in good hands.

Reach out to our team to learn more about safe cat spaying and neutering today!