Is anesthesia safe?
Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Just Cats, we do a thorough physical exam on your cat before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your cat. The handout on anesthesia explains this in greater detail.
Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. Every cat needs blood testing before surgery to ensure that their liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic. Even apparently healthy cats can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing. If there is a problem, it is better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications. Cats that have minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery. If serious problems are detected, surgery will be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We offer several different panels for blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when you bring your cat in. Our doctors prefer the more comprehensive screening, because it gives them the most information to ensure the safety of your cat. For geriatric or ill cats, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or radiographs may be required before surgery as well. It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. You will need to withhold food for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery. Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery. Please bring in all medications that your cat takes so we can give them at the appropriate times.
Will my cat have stitches?
For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. Some surgeries do require skin stitches. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. Most cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is an occasional problem you will also need to watch for. If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery. You will also need to limit your cat's activity level for a short time and no baths are allowed for the first 10 days after surgery.
Will my cat be in pain?
Anything that causes pain in people can be expected to cause pain in animals. Pets may not show the same symptoms of pain as people do; they usually don't whine or cry, but you can be sure they feel it. Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain control than things like minor lacerations.
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we are limited in what we can give them. Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. We administer a pain injection 10 minutes prior to surgery. After surgery, another pain medication injection is given and oral pain medication will be sent home.
We use narcotic patches for some surgeries as well. Providing whatever pain control is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your cat.