Cat Overgrooming After Surgery

Stargirl0623

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Hi all!

My cat had a PU surgery in mid-September. He's finally at the point where he's got regular supervised freedom from the cone, it's been several days now, but he won't stop grooming himself. Isn't focusing on the incision site in particular, more like obsessively going, "every single bit of my body has gone a month without a bath and I cannot let this stand" everywhere.

He's not overtly dirty, but I'm going to attempt to give him a bath as soon as I've got the go-ahead from the surgeon to get any remaining odd smells off him. He's always loved water, so I know it won't overly stress him--he's the type of cat who will jump in my own bath for fun if I don't close the door. In the meantime, does anybody have any suggestions to improve this situation? As he's not going for his surgical site, I don't want to put the cone back on (he still gets it when I'm sleeping or have to leave him unattended, as the surgical site is currently ok to be lightly groomed but needs to not get too much attention) but he's already had one hairball and I'm sure there's more coming! I've been giving him small amounts of Laxatone the last couple days to help smooth that along.

Do I just let this ride and hope he calms down?
 
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susanm9006

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I would give him some time to calm down on his own. He hasn’t been able to wash they way he wanted to for a long time and I think he is just making up for it. It’s probably rather obsessive right now but I don’t think it will last. I certainly wouldn’t bathe him, that will just increase his stress instead of calming him down.
 
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Stargirl0623

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I would give him some time to calm down on his own. He hasn’t been able to wash they way he wanted to for a long time and I think he is just making up for it. It’s probably rather obsessive right now but I don’t think it will last. I certainly wouldn’t bathe him, that will just increase his stress instead of calming him down.
Thank you! That's definitely what I'm hoping, that he'll get himself feeling clean again at some point in the near future and mellow back out.

He is a cat who really likes water (I did a bit too good of a job getting him accustomed to bathtime when he was a kitten, he associates getting wet with getting cuddled dry so will leap into the bath of his own accord), so my hope is that giving him one will let me use some pet shampoo that smells like home on him and help him feel a bit more normal a bit faster.
 

Mk123

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I am going through this now about 2 months post PU surgery. The area seems to be completely healed and yet every time we take the cone off he licks it raw. We have been back to the vet multiple times with no luck. What ever happened with your situation?
 

fionasmom

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does this P/U surgery site look okay??
I believe it was resolved with a continued use of a cone. However, in the case of the OP, her cat only had to wear the cone for a month. She posted very comprehensively about the PU surgery that her cat had.
You have said that there have been repeated trips to the vet already. What does he do for your cat?
 

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The vet has recatheterized him to make everything surgery-wise looks good. Gave him antibiotics, checked his urine for infection. They can’t seem to figure out why he keeps licking the area. We just had the cone on for another 9 days it looked completely healed and now he’s back to licking and biting again and it’s all red. It’s so frustrating I wish I knew what was wrong!!
 

fionasmom

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Do you think this requires medication to help your cat calm down? I am not one to tell people to use sedation for their cats, but in some cases it helps. Given you are on top of his care, this sounds like a cat who is bound and determined to "remove" something from himself.
 
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Stargirl0623

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The vet has recatheterized him to make everything surgery-wise looks good. Gave him antibiotics, checked his urine for infection. They can’t seem to figure out why he keeps licking the area. We just had the cone on for another 9 days it looked completely healed and now he’s back to licking and biting again and it’s all red. It’s so frustrating I wish I knew what was wrong!!
Hi, I'm sorry I missed this at time of posting!

In my cat, it did take a bit more than two months before he was able to go fully without a cone or supervision! I know they say the surgery fully heals in a matter of weeks, but in my experience the irritation did stick around a bit longer. Nothing was wrong that we could find, he just needed time. I couldn't safely discard the cone until the area was no longer pink at all and the fur had largely grown back.

If everything else looks good (no infection, no scar tissue formation, no internal stitches that were missed, etc) it may be an anxiety thing that could benefit from treatment? A PU and the lead-up to it is really painful and traumatizing for an animal--my little guy definitely had anxiety-related behavioral changes that took a solid six months for him to relax back out of, and compulsive grooming of his whole body was one of them.
 

LocosMom

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Hi, all. My guy had PU surgery at the end of February. Lately he is often biting/licking the back of his tail, over grooming, and constantly wanting to lick the PU site whenever he goes to the bathroom and at random. I brought him to the vet last week and they said he still had some suture (which should eventually dissolve), and the site was quite agitated and red. We are back to “cone life”, which he absolutely hates. Did anyone else have this experience and did it eventually resolve? I hate thinking he may be in pain and am hoping it’s behavioural. Thanks so much!
 
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Stargirl0623

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Hi, all. My guy had PU surgery at the end of February. Lately he is often biting/licking the back of his tail, over grooming, and constantly wanting to lick the PU site whenever he goes to the bathroom and at random. I brought him to the vet last week and they said he still had some suture (which should eventually dissolve), and the site was quite agitated and red. We are back to “cone life”, which he absolutely hates. Did anyone else have this experience and did it eventually resolve? I hate thinking he may be in pain and am hoping it’s behavioural. Thanks so much!
That sounds like sutures, for sure! My cat had the same issue, the vet ended up removing them instead of waiting for them to dissolve, as he told me some level of itching and irritation while they're in there can be normal.

Unfortunately, staying the course with #ConeLife is generally the best way to let everything heal; I know a lot of the internet says it's unnecessary after two weeks, but I've experienced personally and also heard of a lot of cases where the amount of damage and irritation just needed significantly longer to heal! A solid chunk of it is likely also behavioral, and should calm down in time, but my little guy had the cone on and off for nearly two full months before it was safe to put it completely away. It's SUCH a delicate area and chances are there was already both internal and external damage done by obstructions before the surgery, so a full recovery of everything is gonna take as long as it takes.

Remember: they may hate the cone, but they'd hate strictures or revision surgery infinitely more! It's a short term annoyance for the sake of protecting their long term health.

If you're worried your cat is in pain or experiencing anxiety, please check in with your vet, as they may have some management strategies to offer while the recovery is ongoing.
 

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Thanks so much for letting me know. Did your kitty improve after the remaining sutures were removed? Some days my guy runs around like a mad man and other days he hides out in the closet. He was seen by the vet last week and was otherwise fine other than the PU site being red/agitated.
 
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Stargirl0623

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Thanks so much for letting me know. Did your kitty improve after the remaining sutures were removed? Some days my guy runs around like a mad man and other days he hides out in the closet. He was seen by the vet last week and was otherwise fine other than the PU site being red/agitated.
Mine did, yes! There was a bit of irritation from the stitches being removed that took another couple days to fully subside, but he was immediately more comfortable. The cone stayed so long mostly because he'd go at the area every time he was alone, I think it took a while to feel "normal" again even after it had technically healed, so I kept popping the cone on him before I left the house or went to sleep until he settled down.
 

LocosMom

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Mine did, yes! There was a bit of irritation from the stitches being removed that took another couple days to fully subside, but he was immediately more comfortable. The cone stayed so long mostly because he'd go at the area every time he was alone, I think it took a while to feel "normal" again even after it had technically healed, so I kept popping the cone on him before I left the house or went to sleep until he settled down.
Thanks for sharing your experience! My guy had the PU surgery at the end of February. A few weeks later he had a craniotomy. Sooo he didn’t even need the PU surgery but the vets had no idea what was going on with him and why he could pee sometimes and not pee other times. My options were to put him to sleep or PU surgery, and of course now it’s the surgery causing issues. I am going to discuss removing the remaining sutures with his vet (when the area is no longer pink/red 😭), and hope that is the magic fix.
 
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