Your cat may need to wear the cone for anywhere between 5 to 14 days after being neutered or spayed. Most cats can get rid of the cone in 5 to 7 days, but in general practice, 14 days is recommended.
The purpose of a cone is to prevent your cat from licking the scrotal incision. It may cause some discomfort, but it will keep your cat safe from any risk of infection.
So, what is this cone of shame? And how should you choose the best fit for your cat? How can you make this experience a little less daunting for your cat, and a little less cumbersome for yourself?
Read along as we navigate through the process of selecting the best cone, and the after-care required.
Is It Necessary For Your Cat To Wear A Cone After Spay And Why?
Yes, your cat must wear a cone after spay. This is because your cat’s first instinct would be to lick around the incision and remove any debris.
Licking their wounds is the first instinct of all animals – dogs, cats, gorillas, and even humans! So, after the neutering surgery, your cat will instinctively tend to lick the scrotal incision to remove any “foreign material or smell”.
Usually, the area around the incision might smell weird so your cat might want to comfort itself by putting its scent back on its body.
Even though it is an instinct, wound licking can often do more harm than good.
You cannot even bathe your cat until the area around the incision has recovered.
If your cat licks the area around the incision then infections may arise in your cat’s body. Your cat should not be able to clean the area for at least ten days.
Your cat’s tendency to lick leads to infections, but it can also delay the healing process and possibly even remove the stitches and cause bleeding due to the reopening of the wound.
In addition to the natural tendency of wound licking, your cat may even try to lick the incision to mask the “funny” smell of medicinal substances with its scent.
This cone is to be put around your cat’s neck, encircling the head and hence creating a protective shield between the mouth and the head from the remaining body.
This cone is necessary as it stops your cat from biting or licking their incision site from being scratched or rubbed.
How Long Should a Cat Wear a Cone After Being Spayed or Neutered?
As a general rule of thumb, the safest way is to let the cat wear the cone for up to 10 to 14 days after neutering.
However, all cats do not need the cone for a complete period of 14 days. Most scrotal incisions tend to heal faster.
So, if your cat’s wound recovers completely, you can remove the cone within 5 to 7 days too. Always consult your vet before deciding on whether or not to remove the cone.
Find out why your cat is depressed wearing cone
Can I Take My Cats Cone Off After 7 Days?
Ideally, as a rule of thumb, the cone should be kept for 2 weeks after surgery but in some minor surgeries, where the wound gets healed reasonably fast, you can take off the cone from your cat after 7 days after taking consent from your vet.
For simple neuters, healing is usually 5-7 days and in that case, you can take off the cone after taking permission from your veterinary doctor.
But for abdominal surgery, healing usually takes 10-14 days and in such a scenario, you should keep the cone for at least 14 days.
Is It Safe To Leave Your Cat Alone With The Cone?
It is not advisable to leave your cat alone with a cone. Wearing a cone can cause physical discomfort, at least for the first few days.
The discomfort that comes with a cone might make your cat restless. The cone also tends to obstruct the peripheral vision of cats, making them prone to accidents.
If your cat is naturally active and runs around the house a lot, then the cone presents an added risk of getting stuck in places like cabinets and windows.
You should never let your cat outdoors with a cone, and until it is completely healed.
Must Read: How To Tell If My Cat Is In Pain After Spay?
Can Cats Sleep With a Cone On?
Your cat should be able to sleep, eat, and drink in a perfectly fine manner even with the cone on.
After the first few hours of discomfort, your cat should be able to adapt to the cone.
If your cat seems to be in too much discomfort days after putting the cone on, it might be time to consult your vet and find a more comfortable alternative to the hard plastic cone.
A wide variety of cones are available these days. So, if your cat seems to have a tough time adjusting to the conventional collar or cone, you can opt for softer fabric cones, inflatable e-collars, or even pillow collars.
These softer alternatives can help your cat have an easier time sleeping, eating, and drinking.
What Kind Of Cone Should You Take For Your Cat?
- The cone you take for your cat should fit well around your cat’s neck.
- It should be loose enough to allow one to two fingers between the neck and the collar and at the same time tight enough to prevent your cat from removing it.
- Your cat’s neck should not feel any pressure from the hard edges of the cone.
- The cone should be a little above the nose tip of your cat. Though it depends on the area of your cat’s body that has to be protected.
It’s also very important to know how long to keep cat confined after spay
Things To Keep In Mind While Choosing A Collar
1. No Pain In The Neck
As we know your cat will keep growing and as for kittens they will grow up quickly, but the collars would not expand.
So keep a frequent check on the collar and loosen it up. If not done so then the collar will grow into your cat’s neck and will cause a lot of pain.
You should check your cat’s collar every week until it is fully grown and do this even if your cat is an adult to make sure the collar fits well.
You should be able to slip one to two fingers easily between the collar and your cat’s neck.
Make sure your cat’s collar is not loose.
2. Buy Break-Away Safety Collars
It is necessary to buy break-away safety collars which can open up easily if they get caught. It is important as it will keep your cat from accidentally getting strangled.
Microchipping helps to provide your cat with permanent identification. A microchip is basically a tiny capsule that is injected into the cat’s skin between the shoulder blades. It is completely painless.
Each chip has its unique ID number and when scanned then full owner information is received. You should keep updating the microchip if there is any change in your contact information.
The microchip does not have a GPS and so you cannot track your pet.
How Should a Cone Fit a Cat?
A properly fit cone should be snug around the neck. A good way to check if it fits properly is to see if it is loose enough for one or two fingers to pass through, but not loose enough for your cat to remove it.
Ensure that any hard edges do not apply pressure on the neck of the cat. The cone should extend a little beyond the nose of the cat. The height or extension of the cone depends upon the area of the body you’re trying to shield.
In case of neutering or spaying, since you need to shield the scrotal area from being licked, you might need a slightly longer cone. This is because cats are notoriously flexible and can easily reach their scrotal region and tail.
How Could Your Cat React To The Cone Around Its Neck?
Cones are not a fun experience for cats. Your cat will not instantly start adapting to a cone around its neck. Your cat would not want to keep the cone after neutering/spay because it may cause some irritation to it.
Though your vet will suggest you put a cone around your cat’s neck for days.
These cones will allow your cat to drink, eat, litter, etc. the only thing they wouldn’t allow her to do is to access her surgical area.
Your cat may oppose the e-collar strongly but it is very important.
The cat may start using passive measures like hanging its head down in shame or would go around the house smashing its gigantic head into the furniture, walls, or back of your leg.
Your cat might pretend as if it cannot eat or drink with the e-collar on while it could even be dramatic and would furiously try to remove its collar with its legs.
Your cat might start jumping and thrashing things here and there.
These attempts are to show that they oppose the e-collar they have worn.
Your cat is using these tactics only to make you feel sorry and guilty.
But please be firm with your decision and keep the cone on your cat’s neck. You should tie the cone on your cat’s collar or create a harness out of a gauze bandage.
The purpose of the cone is not to restrict your cat’s movements or eating or sleeping. It is just to prevent your cat from licking the surgical area.
Can Wearing A Cone Hurt Your Cat?
The first few hours with the cone will be uncomfortable for your cat. It may experience difficulty in walking with it. The cone might even reduce your cat’s field of vision.
But a cone shouldn’t cause any difficulty in your cat’s ability to sleep, eat or drink.
A little discomfort is to be expected, but when selected properly, a cone’s fit shouldn’t be too difficult to adjust to. In fact, the cone might keep your cat from hurting itself.
How To Feed A Cat With Cone On?
If your cat is not comfortable having food and water with the cone on then you should try hand-feeding your cat or holding your cat’s dishes up for them to eat while they have their cone on.
You could try trimming down the cone length while it is eating.
Or you could remove the cone while they are eating or drinking but you need to keep monitoring your cat and be around them making sure your cat is not fidgeting with its stitches.
You might also like to know more about how to feed a cat with a cone
How to Clean a Cat with Cone?
Since the primary purpose of the cone is to prevent your cat from licking itself, your cat may not be able to groom itself and will need your help.
Brush their coat and use grooming wipes to help clean their body. But ensure to not use running water to clean when your cat has a cone on, as it will increase your cat’s discomfort. You can also opt for rinse-less shampoo or dry washcloths.
When Can I Take the Cone Off My Cat After Neutering or Spaying?
Both male and female cats are required to wear a cone for 10 to 14 days after neutering. Once the scrotal incision heals completely, you can take off the cone.
While the first few hours may be uncomfortable for your cat, the cone will have a long-term benefit by preventing your cat from hurting itself.
Although it is best to consult your vet if your cat experiences too much discomfort and has a hard time adjusting to the cone, there are comfortable alternatives available.
Interesting Read: Can I Feed My Cat After Neutering?
Alternatives You Could Use Other Than A Cone
Here are 6 alternatives to the standard hard plastic cone that you can opt for if your cat has a hard time adjusting:
1. Soft E-Collar
These e-collars are similar in design to the traditional hard plastic cones. However, as the name suggests, they are made up of a softer material, usually soft foam sheets.
The main advantage of using a soft e-collar is that it is much more comfortable than the hard plastic cone, and it causes fewer obstructions to the cat’s field of vision and movement.
However, a soft e-collar may not be the right choice for you if your cat is determined to lick the wound. As these are made of soft sheets, they can easily be bent and misshapen.
2. Pillow Collars
As the name suggests, these are pillows designed in the shape of a collar to sit comfortably around your cat’s neck. They are comfortable, soft, and do not impact the field of vision of the cat. Moreover, pillow collars make it easy for your cat to sleep comfortably.
Again, if your cat is adamant against collars, the pillow collar may not be as effective a barrier as a hard plastic cone.
3. Cloth Cones
Similar to soft e-collars, the cloth cones are also designed in the shape of a traditional cone – but with fabric instead of plastic. While these are comfortable and lightweight, they do not provide an effective barrier against the incision being licked by your cat.
Cloth cones can only work out for your cat if it is not too eager to lick its wound – or if the wound is substantially healed and at a lower risk of being reopened by biting or picking at it.
Interesting Read: How To Pick Up Cat After Spaying?
4. Neck Control Collar
A neck control collar is a wide padded collar that restricts the movement of the neck. It is lightweight and does not hinder the cat’s field of vision or scope of movement at all. But it does cause restrictions on the movement of the neck.
So, while it may seem like an alternative to hard plastic cones, it isn’t exactly a “comfortable” alternative.
5. Baby Clothes, DIY surgical shirt, or cat onesie
If you wish to go completely no-cone, you can opt for clothing alternatives. Baby clothes, DIY shirts, and cat onesies can help prevent your cat from licking the wound by providing a direct layer between the wound and your cat’s tongue.
However, if your cat continuously tries to lick or bite at the place of the wound, you might end up with wet fabric on the wound – which might nullify the entire purpose and thus effectively amount to having no barrier at all.
6. Inflatable e-collars
These are lightweight and comfortable e-collars. They do not obstruct the cat’s movement or scope of vision. Neither do they hinder your cat’s ability to sleep, eat, drink, walk, or even run around the house.
Inflatable e-collars are like the neck pillows that you may have used during flights. They provide excellent support to your cat’s neck.
However, one disadvantage with the inflatable e-collars is that if your cat is determined to lick the wound, this collar may not exactly be able to restrict your cat’s movements a lot.
As listed above, there are alternatives to hard plastic cones. You can choose whichever suits your cat.
It is advisable that you consult your vet about which alternative to opt for, as it will highly depend on the nature of your cat, the nature of the wound, and the required effectiveness of the barrier for a given period of time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Your Cat Sleep With A Cone On?
Yes, your cat can sleep with a cone on. Though it might not be so comfortable for your cat. Your cat will get accustomed to it soon.
When can you take the e-collar off your cat?
The e-collar should be worn till your cat’s wound is recovered completely. During spay, it should not be removed for ten to fourteen days. Make sure to follow the instructions of your vet.
Which are the different materials of the cone which can be used for your cat?
The cones that you use for your cat come in different materials. From shaded plastic to clear plastic, from rigid plastic clothes to soft plastic, Velcro strips with custom fits pre-cut sizes can be snapped together.
After neutering or spaying your cat, it is important to provide a barrier that prevents your cat from licking the incision.
The tendency of the cat to lick the wound can cause infections, delay the healing process, and even lead to the reopening of the wound by picking at the stitches.
In order to avoid any such mishap after the surgery, it is advisable that your cat wears a cone around its neck for at least 10 to 14 days.
You can also look into alternatives to hard plastic cones – however, it is best to consult your vet regarding the type of barrier to be used.