March 23, 2023

Help! My cat won’t let himself heal!

Won't let himself heal

(Q) My cat recently had to have half of his tail amputated, but he won’t leave the stitches alone. I’ve tried collars, bitter apple spray and following him around, but nothing stops him licking the stitches. He’s stopping the healing process – what can I do?

(A) Vet Elise Robertson says: It’s a bit concerning that your cat is paying so much attention to this area. This makes me question whether there’s some degree of ‘hyperaesthesia’ here. Hyperaesthesia can be initiated by any trauma and/or inflammation which can lead to a heightened sense of awareness/ perception, and can be uncomfortable or even painful for the cat.

It is thought to be similar to phantom limb syndrome in humans who have had an amputation of a limb. It may be worth trialling a combination of pain medication and an inflatable Elizabethan collar to limit his ability to access this area while waiting for the stitches to dissolve.