19 Year-old Cat Needs Emergency Dental Surgery
Cleo was a skinny orange tabby cat who had not eaten for 3 days. Normally, I’d perform the physical examination, make my testing and treatment recommendations, and that would be that. In Cleo’s case, emotionally-charged decisions abounded because Cleo was born before my new kennel assistant. She was 19 years old!
“I don’t know if we should put her through blood tests. She’s so old,” her mom ventured.
“Old age is not a disease,” I countered.
“But I know she’s needed dental care for years, how could she survive anesthesia?”
“First of all, we’re talking about her mouth. This is central to her every waking thought. Can she eat without pain? Cleo deserves to be happy and comfortable.”
“But I heard that old pets die under anesthesia.”
(Here’s the deal–and I’m talking to you– yes, the statistical odds of an “adverse anesthetic event” go up with age. But, with proper, thorough patient selection: meaning bloodwork, stable underlying conditions like thyroid or kidney disease, heart screening, and careful delicate use of anesthesia. And with fastidious nursing care and monitoring meaning: a dedicated anesthetist, body temperature and blood pressure regulation, and all the rest of the usual monitoring, with an experienced and practiced anesthesia team, your pet has every expectation of a wonderful outcome.)
Cleo underwent dental surgery. She needed 11 rotten teeth removed. She woke up from her anesthesia within 20 minutes and actually ate right away! At her 2 week post-op check-up, she had already gained a pound! She could potentially live for years longer, and now she is comfortable to do so.