How Long To Keep Cone On Cat After Spay

Spaying is a standard but frustrating procedure for most cats and their owners. For instance, the post-operation head cone isn't an experience an owner or cat enjoys. It often leads to parents wondering when they can take these contraptions off their cat's head. We did some significant research on the topic and found an answer to provide you with some relief. 

Cat owners can expect their cats to wear a cone for 10-14 days after their operation. But this timeframe relies solely on whether your cat's stitches or wound has fully healed. If it hasn't, the cone has to remain on until it recovers completely.  

Of course, this answer is a little vague. So our following sections will dive deeper into this topic and some others to offer a better understanding of what owners can expect. You'll soon have everything needed to get through this experience without any issues.

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sick cat with veterinary cone collar, How Long To Keep Cone On Cat After Spay

How To Know When To Take Off The Cone?

There's a bit of a science to knowing when to take the cone off completely after spaying a cat. As we noted previously, it'll happen between 10 and 14 days. But there are signs owners should look for when considering taking off their cat's cone:

  • The incision doesn't have any redness and discharge.
  • Your cat's wound doesn't require any sutures or staples to hold it together.
  • No tenderness or inflammation near or on the incision area.

But owners must wait to take it off until the post-operation exam with their veterinarian. It'll need to take place 7-10 days after the initial surgery to ensure everything is okay. After all, it's always better to consult a professional when it concerns your cat's health and safety.

cat in the veterinary collar falls asleep

What Should The Incision Look Like?

Cat owners need to keep an eye on the incision daily. It's crucial to prevent any issues or infections from affecting the wound. In other words, parents will have to understand what a proper incision looks like on their cats. 

A proper incision will be clean, with the edges touching each other. In addition, the skin often has a slightly reddish or pinkish color around it. Owners shouldn't be alarmed if the incision area is a bit redder during the initial few days. 

If your cat's skin is pale, bruising is usually seen around the incision area. You might not notice this bruising until a couple of days after the spaying operation. It can even seem a bit excessive compared to the incision's size. 

This bruising occurs from blood seeping under the skin's edges. It's one of the few occurrences that can seem a bit concerning. However, it's entirely typical for a cat's incision area to experience this phenomenon. 

At first, some cats can experience a bit of blood seepage from a fresh incision. This issue often occurs in more active cats during the first 24 hours.

When Should You Become Concerned?

So the next question most owners ask is, what are the concerning signs? If you see any of these issues pop up at the incision site, it's time for a visit to the vet:

  • Any swelling, discharge, bad smells, or excessive redness of the skin
  • Blood seepage continued past the initial 24-hour period
  • Constant blood seepage or blood dripping from the incision

What To Do If Your Cat Won't Keep The Cone On?

Bengal cat looking sad in neck collar

Most cats won't be too fond of wearing cones around their heads. As a result, these felines will look for any opportunity to slip out of these safety contraptions. It's shocking to see the extremes a cat will take when attempting to escape these cones. 

But we must do our best to prevent them from being successful. So here are a few tips to keep the cone on their heads rather than becoming a victim to their Houdini antics:

Consider The Cone's Size

One of the first preventative measures to consider is checking the cone's size. These cones are much easier to escape when they don't fit properly. Most experts recommend ensuring enough room for one or two fingers between a cone and the cat's body. 

The cone also needs to extend past your cat's nose. Otherwise, it won't prevent them from slipping it off.

Attach The Cone To Your Cat's Collar

If you need extra security, attaching the cone to your cat's collar is an option. It'll make the cone much harder for them to remove when they feel frisky. But you'll need to ensure that your cat can't get stuck with the cone still attached to the collar.

Buy A Different Cone

Photo of a calico cat wearing a protective inflatable ring

These postoperative cones come in a variety of types. So if one isn't working, there are many other options to select. It's just a simple matter of figuring out which one best suits your cat's unique needs and preferences.

Is It Safe To Leave A Cat Alone With A Cone?

We don't recommend leaving your cat alone when wearing their cones. However, it doesn't mean taking off the cone when leaving them alone. Instead, prepare the room around them if you need to go. 

Placing them in a large, open room with almost nothing around is the safest bet. This will keep them from getting their heads stuck or knocking things over. Meanwhile, please remember to put food and water bowls inside the space.

But make sure they can eat and drink with the cone. In other words, it's something a cat parent should observe them doing before leaving them alone. You should then keep the time away from your cat as limited as possible. 

Another consideration is taking the cover off a covered litter box. Your cat will get stuck inside these enclosures when wearing a postoperative cone. Due to this, using an uncovered litter box during this process is ideal. 

If possible, call a friend or family member for some support. It's always best to try every alternative before leaving your cat unattended with their cone attached. Supervision is a crucial component of creating a fruitful and safe cone-wearing experience.

Should You Leave The Cone On Your Cat At Night?

Many people worry about keeping the cone on their felines at night. It's not hard not to see why, as it does seem a little unsafe. However, keeping the cone on at all times is the only way to ensure its effectiveness. 

Cats won't have any issues sleeping, drinking, peeing, pooping, or eating with their cones. Owners who stay strict with their cone usage help the cats get used to it quicker. So, keeping it on at night becomes necessary for a successful cone experience.

More importantly, a cat without the cone will start messing with its incision. It'll make them start licking the area and disrupt their healing process. Therefore, it's best to keep the cone on at all times until your vet confirms the wound is fully healed. 

Do Cones Make Cats Depressed?

young ginger tomcat in a plastic Buster collar

Your cat can get depressed when wearing a postoperative cone. If this does occur, there are a few signs that indicate your feline is feeling a little blue:

  • Banging their heads against walls and furniture to remove it.
  • Pretending they can't eat or drink with it on.
  • Hanging their heads as if the cone is providing them with shame.
  • Trying to remove it by shaking their heads.

But an owner's best course of action is to not worry much about these signs. Instead, do your best to comfort them with love and hugs during this challenging experience. Your cat should become more used to the cone after a few days. 

In Closing

sick cat with veterinary cone collar

Your cat will need to wear their cone between 10 and 14 days after the spaying procedure. It's a necessary safety precaution to prevent infections and other issues. If a cat goes without a cone after this procedure, it's only asking for trouble. 

Don't forget to post and share your experiences with cone-wearing cats. We'd love to hear about all the funny anecdotes and anything else you want to share. Thanks for reading!

If you have time, check out the following helpful articles:

How Long To Quarantine A Sick Cat With URI

Where Can You Hide The Litter Box (And Should You)?