How Can I Help My Cat Recover From An Injury?

Assess the Injury

The first step is to thoroughly assess your cat’s injury. Look over your cat’s entire body to check for any open wounds, swelling, limping, or changes in behavior that may indicate pain or discomfort. Pay close attention to any sudden shifts in temperament like agitation, trembling, crying, growling, hissing, or difficulty jumping up or down. These could all be signs your cat is injured and in pain (1).

Gently feel along your cat’s legs, tail, and torso to check for areas that are sensitive or elicit a painful response when touched. Also examine your cat’s eyes to see if they are squinting or tightly closed, and look at their ears to see if they are flattened against their head – both potential indicators of injury or distress (2).

If your cat has any lacerations, bleeding, broken bones, trouble breathing, or other serious trauma, they will need emergency veterinary care right away. For less severe injuries that you feel able to manage at home, continue monitoring your cat closely over the next 24 hours for any changes that may still warrant a vet visit (3). Frequent reassessments of the injury are key.

Provide a Calm Environment

Keep the cat confined in a safe, quiet space during recovery. Reduce stressors and stimuli.

Set aside a quiet, comfortable room in your home to serve as the recovery area for your injured cat. This space should be free of other pets, children, and loud noises that could startle or disturb the cat (1). Limit foot traffic and activity in the room. Place the litter box, food, water, bedding, toys, and any other essentials needed for care and comfort in this space.

Restrict the cat’s access to only this room during the recovery period to prevent further injury. Use baby gates or close doors to keep the cat contained. Be sure to provide ample space for a litter box, bed, and for the cat to walk around a small area as permitted by the veterinarian. Check on the cat frequently but limit excessive handling or over-stimulation.

Sometimes covering part of the crate or kennel can help create a quiet, peaceful shelter for an injured cat. However, make sure the enclosure has adequate airflow and that the cat is visible through a window or from certain angles. Monitoring the cat’s activity and status remains important even during times of rest (2).

Creating a calm environment relieves stress and promotes healing. It also prevents the cat from reinjuring itself through too much movement and activity (3). Consult with your veterinarian for specific recommendations based on the injury and required treatment.

Restrict Activity

It’s important not to let your cat run, jump, or climb during the recovery period. Their activity should be restricted and confined in order to limit motion that could reopen surgical incisions or worsen the original injury. You can use baby gates, an enclosed room, or a cat carrier to restrict your cat’s mobility.

Try to keep your cat resting calmly and not moving around too much for the timeframe specified by your vet, usually at least 10-14 days. Don’t allow them access to places they could jump up on like furniture, cat trees, and countertops. You may need to lay cat trees on their side and cover them if your cat is persistent about jumping up.

Make sure your cat has everything they need on the floor level so they are not tempted to jump and climb. Food, water, litter box, bed, and toys should all be set up in an enclosed area on a single level. It may help to confine your cat to a small room or large dog crate initially after injury or surgery. Monitor them closely and don’t allow unsupervised access to other areas of the home until fully recovered.

Restricting movement for the recommended time will allow your cat’s incision sites to heal properly and prevent internal injuries. Be patient – keeping a cat contained goes against their natural instincts, but it’s for the best during recovery. Provide ample affection and playtime using ground-level toys to keep them calm, content, and distracted from wanting to run and jump before they are ready. Once your vet gives the all-clear, your cat can return to normal activity levels.


Offer Soft, Comfortable Bedding

Place soft blankets and beds in the recovery space. Keep litter box close by. Providing a soft, comfortable place for your injured cat to rest and relax is important for their healing process. Straw bedding is highly recommended for cats recovering from injuries as it is soft, absorbent, and helps insulate them ( Special orthopedic cat beds with memory foam can also help relieve pressure on painful joints and speed healing ( Make sure to place several soft, comfortable beds in your cat’s recovery area and keep their litter box nearby so they can easily access it.

Address Pain and Inflammation

It’s crucial to address your cat’s pain and inflammation so they can heal faster. Your veterinarian may prescribe pain medications like opioids, NSAIDs, or steroids to relieve your cat’s discomfort during recovery. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, opioids such as buprenorphine are used to treat severe surgical pain in cats. Always give prescribed pain medication exactly as directed and on schedule to maintain a therapeutic level in your cat’s system.[1]

In addition to oral medication, you can apply hot or cold compresses to the injured area to alleviate inflammation and soreness. Cold compresses constrict blood vessels to reduce swelling, while heat promotes blood flow to ease stiffness. Ask your vet if heat or cold therapy may help, and follow their recommendations carefully.

Provide Assistance with Grooming

If your cat is injured, they may have difficulty grooming themselves. Grooming is important for a cat’s health and hygiene. It helps remove loose hairs, distribute skin oils, and keep their coat free of dirt and debris. An injured cat may not be able to twist or bend enough to lick and groom all areas of their body.

Gently brush or comb your injured cat once daily, being very careful around wound sites. Use a soft bristle brush and brush in the direction of hair growth. Avoid pulling on mats or tangles. You can also use a damp cloth to gently wipe away any dirt on your cat’s coat. Pay attention to paw pads, nail beds, ears and facial areas. Your cat will likely appreciate the grooming session.

If discharge or ointments are present, use a warm, damp cloth to gently clean the areas. Dry your cat thoroughly after. This can help prevent rashes or skin irritations from developing. It will also stop the accumulation of debris and bacteria on their coat.

Monitor your cat’s skin while they are healing. Check for any abnormal redness, licking or scratching. Inform your veterinarian if skin irritation occurs. With your assistance, proper grooming can be maintained to help your cat feel comfortable and heal.


Encourage Rest and Relaxation

Rest and relaxation are critical for your cat’s recovery from injury. Make sure your cat gets plenty of uninterrupted sleep and rest time throughout the day. Cats naturally sleep 12-16 hours per day, but an injured cat may need even more rest to heal.

Provide a calm, quiet space for your cat to relax in with no loud noises or activity that could be disruptive. Place comfortable, washable bedding in an area away from high traffic. Keep the lights dimmed and noises low in this rest space.

You can also use synthetic feline pheromones like Feliway to help relax your cat. Pheromones mimic natural chemicals released by cats to signal comfort and security. Diffusers and sprays containing these pheromones may ease anxiety and stress for an injured cat.

Be patient with your cat during recovery and allow plenty of undisturbed rest time. Adequate rest will help your cat heal faster. If your cat seems agitated or unable to relax, contact your veterinarian for advice.

Monitor Food and Water Intake

It’s important to monitor your cat’s food and water intake closely during recovery. Feed a high calorie diet to aid healing, as recovering from injury requires extra energy. Foods designed for convalescing cats, such as Royal Canin Recovery, provide optimal nutrition.

Cats may have a poor appetite after an injury, anesthesia, or surgery. Try warming up wet food to increase palatability. Hand feeding small amounts frequently may encourage eating. Nutritional supplements can provide extra calories if your cat won’t eat enough regular food.

Ensure fresh water is available at all times. Dehydration will delay healing and recovery. Place water bowls near your cat’s bed or food dish. Assist drinking by gently holding the bowl to your cat’s mouth if needed.

Notify your veterinarian if your cat refuses food or water for more than 24 hours during recovery. They can provide medication and fluids to support your cat’s nutritional needs.

Give Prescribed Medications

Follow dosage instructions carefully. Call vet with any concerns. It’s crucial to precisely follow your veterinarian’s dosage instructions when giving medication to your injured cat. Using too little may be ineffective, while too much can be toxic. If you have any doubts about the amount, application method, timing, or any other aspect of the medication protocol, contact your vet right away for guidance. Ask about techniques to make medication administration easier, like mixing pills into a small amount of tuna or cream cheese. Get clarification on anything that seems confusing or difficult when giving the medicine to your cat. Don’t guess – always verify you understand the medication schedule and method.

One tip for liquid medication is to place the dropper tip near the back of the cat’s mouth so they are forced to swallow (Source: Pilling a cat can be challenging, so ask your vet to demonstrate techniques like holding the head steady and placing the pill far back on the tongue (Source: Stay in close contact with your veterinarian to ensure your injured cat gets the medicine they need for recovery.

Provide Follow-Up Vet Care

Taking your cat for all recommended recheck appointments with the veterinarian is crucial during the recovery process. These appointments allow the vet to monitor your cat’s progress, check on the status of any wounds or incisions, remove sutures if necessary, and address any concerns about pain, infection, or other complications.

Discuss your cat’s at-home recovery with the vet at these visits. Provide details on how well the wound is healing, if your cat is showing signs of pain or irritation, their appetite and activity levels, and any other observations you have made. This information helps the vet determine if additional interventions or medications may be needed.

Follow all at-home care instructions from the vet, such as wound cleaning, bandage changes, administering medication, and restricted activity. Provide updates on how your cat is tolerating the at-home treatment regimen. Immediately contact the vet if you have concerns about infection, reopened wounds, or any other problems.

While recovery and vet check-ups continue, discuss options for facilitating your cat’s healing like physical rehabilitation or gentle exercise when the vet deems it appropriate. With diligent at-home care and close monitoring by your vet, your cat has the best chance of making a full recovery from their injury.


Scroll to Top