Searching online in the lead up to the kittens’ neutering op, I struggled to find an honest account of the whole experience anywhere. And so I’m writing this in the hope it helps a nervous new kitten-owner somewhere prepare. Before I say anything more though, I am no expert. This was simply our experience and from what I gather, all kittens are different and the most important thing to remember is to listen to your vet and your gut.
Having to keep the kittens from eating the morning of the operation wasn’t as difficult as I expected. I felt guilty and a little on edge, but they’re resilient animals and I quickly realised they weren’t actually too bothered. They barely even nagged for food – they just kind of got on with it. They slept and chilled until we popped them in their carriers and then off we went.
Our vets are lovely and the procedure itself was as safe and as painless for the kittens themselves as possible. We dropped them off at the vets in the morning and picked them up in the afternoon. The anxiety while they were there wasn’t too bad at all. I felt very reassured that they were in the best hands possible and were going to be well looked after. And I wasn’t wrong. The nurses at our local Medivet practice kept us informed every step of the way, spoke to the kittens with love just like we did and even went to the effort to wrap the girls up in blankets when they got cold after surgery.
They will most likely hate the cone and don’t let anyone tell you any different. They get used to it eventually, but first you have to endure a good few days of them itching their necks and trying to wiggle their way out of it. I felt horrible that first day when we brought them home and all they wanted to do was be free. All you can do is equip yourself with a nifty brush or comb for helping them with those neck scratches.
Cats are clean animals and I found it really hard to watch them trying and failing to clean their increasingly grotty fur. The cones themselves get mucky too. Our kittens repeatedly stuck their cones in their food, no matter how many times we showed them how to get properly lined up with their bowls. They also got really lethargic – they found it harder to run and to jump. They find it hard to eat and to get in and out of the litter tray and no doubt about it, for a little bit, you will feel like the worst cat Mum or Dad in the world.
Taking cones off to allow for cleaning is a vet approved post-op coping strategy, but it went terribly wrong for us. So long as you keep an eye and get the cone on as soon as your kitten licks at their wound, you’re supposedly all good. Some people even take the cones off every day for dinner time. We were too nervous to take the cones off at all, until Mambo managed to somehow get the string from her cone stuck in her teeth on the day before we were due to take them to the vets for their two week post-op check-up. We had to remove the cone to sort the issue and decided to give her some time to clean before putting the cone back on.
Willow came wandering into the room and we couldn’t bear to disclude her so we took her cone off too. Unfortunately for us, Willow got straight to her wound, pulled her stitches out and we ended up at the emergency vet. The girls were both then in their cones for five more long days.
And on top of all of that, I was constantly aware that neutering comes with very real risks. You have to try and keep your kittens from running and jumping too much and for the first few days I felt so anxious as a result. When they’re sleepy and lethargic it was easy enough to keep an eye, but our girls love to run and play and as they regained their energy, it got harder to manage. We soon learned we were just going to have to let them get on with it. Google will tell you lots of scary stories about what happens if they move too much and they’re all true, but have faith in your little ones. All you can do in this case is keep an eye on the wound. Too much swelling, puss or blood and call your vet.
When we could eventually safely take the cones off, it was the best thing EVER. And the girls cleaned like their lives depended on it. And now they’re at no risk of pregnancy or womb infections and cancers – hooray! So please don’t let all of this put you off. If you’re about to go through the process and you think you’ll be anything like me (an overthinking, anxious mess!), make friends and family come to you so you don’t have to stress, spend as much time at home as you can and make sure you’ve got some chill time planned to decompress so that you can there for your little ones and show up for yourself too.