If your feline friend needs surgery or dental work, you probably have some questions or concerns about cat anesthesia. You may even feel a bit nervous at the thought of your furry best friend being “put under” for a procedure. As a pet parent, it’s normal to have concerns, and it’s always best to turn to your cat’s veterinarian when you have questions. That’s why we decided to share answers to some of the most common questions about cat anesthesia. The information below comes directly from our veterinarians, so you can rest assured that it’s accurate. 

If you’re seeking a second opinion or a veterinarian for your cat’s procedure in Vallejo, CA, please call (707) 940-8748. Your pet’s comfort and safety are our primary concerns here at All Creatures Veterinary Hospital. Whether they need a routine procedure or something much more complex, they will be in excellent hands while in our care. 

What is anesthesia? 

Anesthesia is a state of controlled loss of consciousness that prevents pets from feeling pain or moving during procedures. It is a loss of sensation essential for surgery and dental procedures. 
What is the difference between anesthesia and sedation? The level of consciousness is the main difference between anesthesia and sedation. Sedated cats may still have some sensation and be able to move around. Anesthesia renders patients wholly unconscious and ensures they do not feel any pain. 

Why would my cat need anesthesia? 

Cats need anesthesia when undergoing procedures that could cause pain. 

Procedures that require cat anesthesia include: 

  • Surgery
  • Wound repair
  • Dental procedures

In addition, we may need to anesthetize your cat to take clear x-rays and when we need them to remain completely still for any other reason. If we need to anesthetize your cat, we will discuss the reason and get your consent before proceeding. 

How do I know that anesthesia is safe for my cat? 

We perform comprehensive physical exams before putting any patient under anesthesia. In many cases, we also do blood work to assess organ function to ensure that they can adequately process the anesthesia drugs. We may also recommend x-rays if we think your cat could have other risk factors. 

We use only the safest anesthetic drugs and protocols and take every precaution to keep our patients safe. When your cat needs anesthesia, their safety will always be our primary concern. 

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

You’ll need to take some steps at home to prepare your cat for anesthesia. In most cases, you will need to withhold food overnight. We will provide detailed instructions to ensure you know exactly when to remove your feline friend’s food. We’ll also let you know whether you should withhold any medications your cat takes the night before or the day of their procedure. Our team will tell you when to bring your pet in for their procedure. 
When you arrive, a technician will meet you to go over the details of the procedure and address any questions or concerns you might have. Your cat’s surgeon may also discuss the procedure with you to make sure you understand everything. We always encourage you to communicate with us if you have any concerns about your cat going in for an anesthetic procedure. We are here to help. 

What are some of the possible cat anesthesia complications? 

While rare, cat anesthesia complications are possible. We take every precaution to minimize the risk, but it’s still important to be mindful of potential complications.

Possible cat anesthesia complications include: 

  • Swelling at the injection site
  • A minor decrease in cardiac output
  • Aspiration pneumonia caused by vomiting while under anesthesia
  • Organ system failure
  • Seizures

Again, we take every precaution to lower the risk of complications, but there is always a chance something could go wrong. Providing us with your pet’s complete medical history and following our pre-anesthetic instructions carefully is the best way to ensure a favorable outcome for your cat. 

What will you do to ensure safety during cat surgery? 

Many of the things we do to protect our feline patients take place before their operation, including their physical exam, blood screening, and x-rays. 
A highly trained veterinary technician will remain by your cat’s side throughout the procedure. We use many of the same monitoring machines used in human hospitals. The technician will keep a close eye on those machines and watch your pet for any signs of change. 

The monitoring devices we commonly use include: 

  • Pulse oximeter
  • Electrocardiograph
  • Blood pressure cuff
  • Thermometer
  • Respirometer

We also place an IV catheter during procedures so we have immediate access to a vein if we need to administer medications to improve their heart rate or help with any problems they may experience while under anesthesia. 

What type of care does my cat need when coming out or recovering from anesthesia? 

Immediately after your cat’s procedure, we will move them to a recovery area where a technician closely monitors them until they wake up. In most cases, we will ask you to return for your cat when they are awake but still a bit drowsy. Your cat’s exact level of alertness at pickup will depend on several factors, including whether we used heavy or light anesthesia, how long your cat was asleep, and how they handled the anesthesia. Cats who are overweight tend to take longer to recover. 

If your cat is still groggy when you take them home, confine them to a quiet, dimly lit area. Make sure they are in a safe place where they can’t jump up on anything and fall off. Your cat may seem like they are “drunk” for a while, so it’s essential to ensure their safety while in this state. 

Keep other pets away until your cat fully wakes up (or longer, depending on what type of procedure they underwent). We’ll provide detailed aftercare instructions to help your feline friend recover from surgery and anesthesia. And, of course, we encourage you to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns after taking your cat home. 

If you still have questions about cat anesthesia, reach out to us directly by calling (707) 940-8748.