Veterinarians typically recommend that cats not be too active after surgery. Running, jumping, leaping… any kind of extreme physical activity can increase the risk that a cat’s incision will dehisce (open up), delay healing, and put the patient at higher risk for infection and other post-operative complications. Convincing some cats to rest for a while is easier said than done, but with a little ingenuity owners can get job the done.
A bathroom or walk-in closet that can be dedicated to your cat during her recovery period often works well. Place a comfy bed, litter box, and food and water bowls inside. Rather than closing the door, block off the entrance with two baby gates placed one on top of the other. Remove the top gate and step over the bottom one to go inside. This set-up allows your cat to feel like a part of the family and reduces the chances that she will make a break for it when a closed door is suddenly opened.
A small tent can be an ideal recovery room, particularly if a cat is strictly prohibited from jumping on and off of things. Food, water, a bed, and a litter box can be placed on the tent’s floor. Owners can easily unzip the flap and slip inside to give the cat his or her medications, refill food and water, clean the litter box, or simply spend some time together without risking an escape. Leave the rain fly off so the cat can watch the world go by through the mesh walls, but never leave a cat in a tent unattended while outdoors. The whole set-up can be moved from room to room, placed in front of a sliding glass door, or even taken outside to keep the patient engaged in everyday life, but never leave a cat outside in a tent unless there is someone nearby to supervise.
A large dog crate or playpen with a mesh top can be used in a similar way, but these set ups do not allow owners to join their cats inside. If you choose either of these two options, be very careful when removing the cat when the enclosure needs to be cleaned, food and water refilled, medications given, or for some snuggle time. A cat that is bored with being cooped up may grab the opportunity and make a break for freedom.