Spaying your cat is beneficial in many ways. First, it reduces her chances of developing reproductive and kidney-related cancers. Additionally, she will not have to go through heat cycles that trigger unwanted behavior, leaving her a healthier, happier cat overall.
Knowing how important this procedure is, most cat owners see no option but to have their pets spayed. Indeed, this life-changing event is worth some sacrifice for the betterment of your feline companion.
But, of course, the positive changes will not happen overnight. Often, the first few days after surgery can be pretty challenging. Among other possible behaviors, many cat owners have reported that their cats have become more clingy – but not in a positive way.
Perhaps you have also heard these reports, and are now wondering whether spaying your cat will make her clingy. Hopefully, this post will help you understand more about these behavioral changes and what you can expect after Fluffy’s surgery.
Why your cat is clingy after being spayed
Surgery can be a stressful and traumatic experience for a cat. She might be in pain, fearful, and a bit disoriented. It stands to reason that one of her coping mechanisms might be increased neediness, which does not necessarily equate to being more affectionate. As a response to her trauma and discomfort, your feline friend will likely seek comfort and security in your arms, making her seem more clingy than usual.
These are some of the common reasons for your cat’s clinginess after surgery:
1. Hormonal changes
Hormonal imbalances are expected after a female cat has been spayed. She will go through a lot of discomfort, mood swings, and confusion as the surgical wound heals and will likely need your cuddles and reassurance that everything will be okay.
2. Loss of confidence
The pain and trauma after the operation are enough to make your cat lose her confidence. In this case, she will probably seek protection and comfort from her human after her frightening experience in the veterinary surgery.
During this tough time, try to spend time with your cat to help restore her confidence. Let her feel your love and presence as she makes her recovery.
3. Surgical trauma
Surgery is never a fun procedure, but is often necessary for your pet’s health. However, your cat will never understand why she has to endure such pain, and you cannot explain to her what is happening. After the operation, she will likely be fearful and cautious around everybody, so it is very important that you help her manage her fear as well as her pain.
If it becomes too difficult for you to be with your cat due to a busy work schedule or other commitments, it may be a good idea to consider pet rehabilitation. This professional service offers recovery support and therapies to help your cat heal and overcome the trauma of surgery.
Immediate behavioral changes after spaying
Most of the immediate behavioral changes after the operation are associated with fear, stress, and discomfort. Every cat is different, so their response to the stress may vary as well. Your cat’s post-surgery coping mechanisms might manifest as any of the following:
1. Quieter and more withdrawn than normal
After surgery, it is normal for most cats to be quieter than normal as they recover. They will feel sore and tired for a couple of days, and the sutures may also cause them discomfort.
You may also notice your cat hiding and being more withdrawn. Cats are masters at hiding their pain – somehow, they understand that injuries or pain can make them vulnerable to larger predators. They might also hide out of fear after their experience at the veterinary clinic.
Your cat will need a lot of rest and quiet time in order to recover from surgery. Assigning a cat-proofed room is a good idea, to keep your cat away from other pets who might harass her as she heals.
2. Groggy or dizzy
In most cases, cats will be a bit groggy and lethargic as a side effect of anesthesia within the first 24 hours after surgery. They may also be extra sensitive, so expect your feline to be a bit cranky and irritable. Make sure that you provide a quiet and warm area for her to recover in. Your disoriented pal will be back to normal as soon as the anesthetic has made its way out of her system.
3. No appetite
Decreased appetite is another common feline reaction to abdominal surgery. Your cat may feel a bit nauseous as a side effect of anesthesia and pain relievers.
It is best not to feed her with large meals right away; her appetite should gradually return within 24 hours post-surgery. You can start giving her smaller meals as well as water several times a day to aid her recovery. However, if she refuses to eat or drink 48 hours post-surgery, you must have her checked by the vet immediately.
4. Clingy and affectionate
Depending on your cat’s temperament, she might become more clingy and affectionate after surgery. This is usually due to the stress and trauma she has experienced at the veterinary clinic. SInce you are her trusted human companion, she will seek your protection and reassurance at this traumatic time.
Keep in mind that the abovementioned behaviors should all be temporary. Once your cat recovers and realizes she is safely back home, she will soon be back to her normal self again.
However, if she displays hyper-aggressive behavior or continuous yowling after being spayed, consider having her checked by the vet as this could mean she is suffering a lot of pain.
Long-term behavioral changes
Most cat owners realize the importance of spaying. It might be a painful and difficult process for your cat, but the benefits still outweigh any of the potential risks. For one, the procedure can help prevent unplanned litters. Second, hormone-related diseases such as reproductive cancers can be prevented. And lastly, unwanted behaviors triggered by hormonal fluctuations can be minimized.
Here are some long-term changes you might notice in your cat after spaying her:
1. Less roaming
In the wild, cats live to hunt and reproduce – that is all they know. Now that they are domesticated, keeping them intact will result in unchanged instinctive behavior which might be undesirable for most pet owners. One of these instincts is the urge to search for a mate.
Spaying your cat means she will no longer go into heat, or into season. This means she will not be interested in finding a mate, so her roaming behavior will also decrease. It will be easier to keep her safe indoors at night, where she will not be exposed to dangers such as crossing a highway, getting into fights with other animals, or getting lost.
Another plus is that you can spend more time with your cat, as she will likely stay home for much more of the day.
2. No longer coming into heat
Since spayed cats do not come into heat, other heat-associated behaviors will also start to diminish. These include excessive yowling – especially at night, spraying and rubbing herself on everything to attract male cats, showing signs of irritability or mood swings, and frequent roaming.
Most of these heat-associated behaviors are quite annoying and difficult to handle, especially if your cat is very loud and bothers your neighbors at night. Thankfully, spaying will eradicate most of these behaviors quite effectively.
3. Calmer and less vocal
Having your furry friend spayed does not mean her personality will change. The procedure will not make her more friendly, sociable, or affectionate. However, it will help reduce irritability associated with hormonal fluctuations. This irritability can manifest as restlessness, aggression, territorial behavior, and clinginess.
After your cat has been spayed, you will start seeing more positive behavior, such as less vocalization and reduced aggression. In other words, your furry friend will become the best version of herself!
4. Reduced spraying
Spraying, or marking, is your cat’s instinctive way of advertising her need for a mate, or marking her territory. Either way, this behavior can be annoying, especially as cat pee is smelly and quite difficult to clean.
Reduced spraying is another desirable result after spaying your cat. That means your home will smell nicer and cleaner as your cat’s mess is all contained in her litter box.
Do cats’ personalities change after spaying?
Intact cats are mostly driven by their hormones. Female cats in heat tend to be anxious, aggressive, extremely territorial, and vocal. Once your feline is spayed, these hormone-associated behaviors will be reduced, but this does not mean your cat’s personality has changed – she is just becoming less irritable than before.
Will your cat hate you after being spayed?
The stressful and frightening procedure is likely to make your cat hate the veterinary clinic forever – but she is far less likely to hate you. However, you do need to make a special effort to look after her for a few days until she fully recovers. She might also be timid and jumpy, both of which are just temporary. Allow your cat to adjust and recover by providing her with the appropriate aftercare and a safe space where she can feel secure and comfortable.
Will pet calming sprays help?
Pet calming sprays such as Feliway are made of synthetic pheromones that offer reassuring signals to keep your cat calm as she heals. These products might be helpful while your cat endures the stress and disorientation that is to be expected post-surgery. Aside from calming sprays, you can also try other calming pheromone products such as wipes, diffusers, and collars.
How long does it take for a cat’s hormones to balance out after spaying?
Hormonal changes after spaying will not happen overnight; instead, it might take a few weeks for the hormones to balance themselves out. Expect to see a gradual transition to more appropriate behavior over a month or so.
Wrapping it up
So – is it normal for cats to become clingy after spaying? The answer is yes, but that has nothing to do with personality changes. She is just in pain and feeling insecure following her traumatic experience at the veterinary clinic.
The procedure has actually helped your furry companion to have a better-adjusted temperament by reducing her hormone-driven behaviors.
However, if your cat shows destructive behavior such as aggression and irritability after her surgery, you are better off having her checked by the vet to rule out any post-surgery complications.
Image: istockphoto.com / Tat’yana Andreyeva