General Surgery

Answers to questions about your cat’s Anesthesia , Surgery and Dental Care

Your cat’s well-being is everyone’s primary goal. While cost may certainly be a factor in considering where and if to have a procedure performed, here are some other very important questions you may want to have answered in order to ensure the best chance for your cat’s safe and uneventful recovery. Although we cannot answer all questions on this page, we encourage our clients to ask as many questions as they wish prior to admission to our surgical and dental care facility.

Will my cat be examined prior to anesthesia? YES!

A full examination can be crucial in detecting problems that may adversely impact your cat’s stability while under anesthesia, also affecting recovery and healing time. For example, if a heart murmur is heard, this could indicate underlying heart disease which could make anesthesia very risky unless treated appropriately. Poor condition due to parasites, underlying viral or bacterial infection and many their problems may make anesthesia contraindicated until further treatment.

Is pre-anesthetic blood work recommended? Absolutely!

Whether young or old, a cat may have underlying electrolyte, kidney or liver problems that would affect its ability to metabolize anesthetic agents and/or pain medications. Knowing about this prior to surgery will allow us to choose the safest and most appropriate way to proceed with anesthesia, if deemed safe.
Blood work will also help your veterinarian look for underlying infection, anemia or dehydration. Furthermore, if all is normal, it is valuable for continued care to have a “baseline” of normal values for your cat, especially if it should become ill in the distant future.

What precautions are taken to make surgery and anesthesia safe?

declawHere at COC, we place an endotracheal (breathing) tube to help maintain an open airway for oxygen and anesthetic gas as needed. A heating pad is used to help maintain your cat’s body temperature. (Hypothermia is a concern as anesthesia decreases the body’s ability to regulate its core temperature.) An intravenous catheter may be placed in a vein to allow quick delivery of fluids and any emergency medication or antibiotics. Blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate, oxygen concentration of blood as well as an EKG are all monitored throughout surgery. Your cat will be recovered in a pre-warmed pediatric incubator. Post-operatively, your cat’s pulse, temperature and general recovery are carefully watched by a designated anesthetic technician. Our patients wake up smoothly and comfortably.

Will my cat receive pain medication? Definitely!

If pain is anticipated- and this is assumed anytime tissue is incised, then pain medication is given prior to surgery. Preventing pain before it occurs is most beneficial to a fast recovery. Freedom from pain actually makes healing occur faster, so our patients who have pain medication in the hospital also go home with continued care. In some cases, we may apply a slow-release pain patch to your cat’s skin which can provide 24/7 pain control for 5-7 days. Here at Cats on Call Hospital, we also offer laser surgery (hot laser) and therapeutic (cold) laser treatment. The first decreases the incident of surgical pain after surgery and the second machine is used to decrease post-surgical pain and stimulate healing.

Since we are not at home after surgery, it is important that you call us if your cat is hiding, breathing rapidly, lying in an unusual position or not eating. These are signs of pain in a cat. Cats will rarely cry in pain. They are silent sufferers, so please be their advocate, and let us know if we need to change the pain plan we have in place. There are now many options available such as liquid and chewable treats.

Do you offer full dental care? Yes!

Oral pain is the most common type of pain we see in cats, and 80% of cats need dentistry by age 3. By taking care of your cat’s oral health, you prevent problems of the mouth from spreading to other parts of the body. For your convenience, we offer preventive care for kittens and adults, as well as dental surgery, including extractions and dental laser therapy for gums. We imply digital dental x-rays as well as special protective sealants. We do not offer root canals at this time but we can refer patients to a board certified dentist if further treatment is indicated.

Why does my cat need to be anesthetized for a dental cleaning?

DSC023572Although cats get the same in-depth care of their teeth that humans get, the bacteria in a cat’s mouth tend to produce calculi rather than plaque. Calculi is a very hard substance which requires an ultrasonic scaler to remove it completely from the gums and teeth. The use of a scalar could be very frightening for a cat as well as potentially uncomfortable in an awake cat. It would be very easy to harm the gums if a cat were to move while the scaler was being used.

Although cats do develop a tooth problem that resembles cavities, they differ in their cause and behavior.These lesions are referred to as neck lesions or cervical line lesions. These tooth problems result in resorption of the tooth, which may result in a broken tooth or exposure of the pulp (nerve). This can be very painful, but is not uncommon for these problems to go undetected because they are hidden under the gums and any associated calculi. If this were to be discovered during a routine cleaning, it would result in excruciating pain for the poor awake cat.