After your cat has surgery and comes home, it will be up to you to keep their wounds clean and tidy while they recover. Your veterinarian will no doubt send them home with the equipment you need to do this, like gauze, cotton, and antibacterial solution, but it'll still be up to you to get the job done. Here are some tips on doing it well and doing it right, as well as what you should be mindful of when examining the wound.
Use a Restraint
Your cat might be the sweetest one on the planet, but it doesn't change the fact that they've been through a traumatic incident and may be in some pain. As a result, you shouldn't plan on them reacting well to having their wound touched. Always use a form of restraint when handling a pet's wound. It's for both of you to stay safe.
How you restrain your cat will depend upon where the wound is. Wrapping up a cat in a blanket or towel often works well, or you can have another person hold them in place and scruff them to keep them still.
Always be extremely tender when working with the wound. Never use harsh, scrubbing motions. This can increase inflammation in the tissue and slow down the healing process. It can also be a problem for any scabs, as it could rip them off and cause fresh bleeding. If your cat has stitches, also be mindful of being gentle with them, as if the stitches break, you'll need to return to the veterinarian's office to have new ones put in. This is a problem, as your cat will need to be placed under anesthesia again.
In short, use short, dabbing motions to clean your cat, rather than rubbing the wound. This will help to prevent further damage.
What to Watch For
While you're cleaning your cat's wounds, you'll also need to keep your eyes open for signs of infection. Here are a few you can look for.
First off, if you ever notice pus or discharge coming out of the wound, contact your vet immediately. In some cases, discharge is normal, but it can also be a sign of infection. Your vet will be able to tell which it is based on your description of the discharge.
Secondly, watch for redness or heat coming from the wound. This could be a sign of infection, as the body raises its temperature to try to help kill bacteria and viral invaders.
In addition, if your cat shows signs of lethargy, lack of appetite or interest in water, consult with a veterinarian right away. Follow all of these tips to make sure that you take the best care of your cat as you can after their surgery.