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Cat Anesthesia - What You Should Know Before Your Cat Goes Under Anesthesia

What is anesthesia?

Anesthesia is the ability to make an animal, such as a cat, completely asleep to the point where they won't feel any pain and be unaware of their surroundings. It's typically used for surgeries or treatments, especially for cats that are particularly uncooperative or "spicy". The procedure is similar to time-traveling for these cats. They go to sleep, receive their treatments or testing, and then wake up with everything done.

Dr. Meghan Denney
Four Paws At Fulshear

What is the difference between anesthesia and sedation?

Anesthesia renders the cat completely asleep and unresponsive to stimuli. In contrast, sedation only partially relaxes the cat--they're not entirely asleep, but they're relaxed, not stressed, and maintain control of their airway. Sedation is often used to facilitate treatments for cats that are somewhat uncooperative. Cats that are especially anxious may receive a sedative called Gabapentin before they come into the practice, which helps them be less fearful and easier to handle.

What do I need to know before my cat goes for an anesthetic procedure?

If your cat is scheduled for an anesthetic procedure, it's crucial to not give them any food or water after 9 o'clock the night before the procedure. This is to prevent regurgitation or vomiting during the procedure. In cats, a breathing tube called an endotracheal tube is placed to protect their airway. Any possible regurgitation cannot get into their lungs, which would lead to a serious complication called aspiration pneumonia.

What are some possible complications of anesthesia my cat could experience?

Aspiration pneumonia is one possible complication. In rare instances, cats and dogs can have an anesthetic reaction, which could unfortunately lead to death. We have full monitoring of oxygen levels, CO2 levels, blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, EKG, everything you can think of. Even doing everything right, things like that can happen. There's really no way to explain it. Some cats may also have silent heart disease, especially certain breeds like Ragdolls, Maine Coons, and Sphinxes. These breeds may need additional testing before going under anesthesia. It's called silent heart disease because we can't hear it. There's no murmur, arrhythmia, or change. It has to do with the structure of the heart wall. We do our very best to make sure that it's as safe as possible. We also keep our owners updated at least every twenty to thirty minutes to let them know what's going on, and when they're pets' are in recovery, we send pictures because it's scary and stressful.

What type of at-home care should I provide as my cat is coming out of anesthesia?

Post-anesthesia, it's best to keep your cat in a quiet, dark room with minimal noise. You can offer food later in the evening. It's also recommended to keep them in a room where there's not much to jump on. Most cats can be off balance and some may want to sleep it off or hide. It's crucial to keep the environment quiet, as cats are natural predators and their instincts can go into overdrive when they're not themselves.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (281) 801-1444, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

Cat Anesthesia - FAQs

Dr. Meghan Denney
Four Paws At Fulshear

What kind of anesthesia is used for my cat?

There are two different types of anesthesia used at Four Paws at Fulshear Veterinary Clinic. These are injectable anesthesia and gas anesthesia. The clinic most commonly uses a combination of both. Cats get pre-medicated with injectable sedation and once they have their breathing tube down, they're maintained on gas anesthesia.

What are common anesthetic procedures for cats?

Common anesthetic procedures for cats include dentals, feline neuters, feline spays, growth removals, and c-sections. We may also give anesthesia when we are taking x-rays if the cat's been hurt. If cats can't be cooperative or they're getting stressed, then we might give them some sedation to get our samples for testing, like drawing blood or doing treatments. So if we have a pet that's not quite sick enough to get hospitalized but sick enough to need treatments, then we may give some sedation to get those treatments done in hospital to make sure that it's not stressful for the cat. We do try to practice fear-free medicine as much as possible.

Will my cat need an exam and lab work prior to anesthesia?

Yes, they will. You do need to be a current client with Four Paws at Fulshear because you need a doctor-patient relationship prior to getting a treatment plan for surgery. That is required by Texas state law. By having an exam, I can catch any possible health issues that your cat may have prior to anesthesia. That way we can tailor anesthetic procedures for them.

How do you ensure the safety of my cat under anesthesia?

The same monitoring used during human anesthesia is used for cats. This includes checking blood pressure, EKG, oxygen levels with the pulse ox, CO2 levels in the blood, temperatures, jaw tone, respiratory rate, and heart rate. A veterinary technician is assigned to monitor the pet while it's under anesthesia.

What pain medications will my cat receive before, during, and after the anesthetic procedure?

Pain control in cats is taken seriously as cats are good at hiding their pain. The premeds include ketamine for pain-blocking effects. Before placing the breathing tube, they get an injection of Cerenia for anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory effects. They might also get an injection of Onsior, an anti-inflammatory that lasts for 24 hours. Local blocks are used to control pain from the skin and muscle layer. Once in recovery, they get an injection of buprenorphine for pain control given either under the skin, lasting 24 hours, or by IV, lasting about six to eight hours, depending on which type of buprenorphine you give.

How long does anesthesia last for a cat?

The duration of anesthesia varies depending on the procedure. Neuters might not take as long while spays are more lengthy and invasive procedures. Dentals depend on the grade and the amount of dental work that has to be done. The specifics can be asked prior to having your cat set up for anesthesia.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (281) 801-1444, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

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