What is anesthesia?

Anesthesia is when we take the conscious mind and basically put it into unconsciousness so that we can do some things to the body that may be uncomfortable and not have the brain perceive that discomfort.

Dr. Noël Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

Why would my cat need to go under anesthesia?

We use anesthesia, especially when we're going to do something uncomfortable, which is usually surgical or something that might impact their airway, like dentistry. We want to protect their airway and we need them to be very still. Anesthesia might be evoked if we need to set a fracture, something that might be painful to the cat. Those would be reasons that we would often use anesthesia.

What's the difference between anesthesia and sedation?

With sedation, pets still have some voluntary motor ability and some consciousness. Reflexes would still potentially be intact, depending on the level of sedation that we have them in.

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

Some things that you might want to consider before your cat goes under general anesthesia is what is going to be done for the safety of that animal while they're under anesthesia. Who's going to be monitoring them? What safety precautions are in place? Will your cat have an IV catheter? Will your cat be intubated? Where is it going to be held until anesthesia? Where is the cat going to be in recovery? How can I get my cat safely to the hospital before anesthesia? Do I need to do any medications before? There's a lot of questions to be asked regarding cat anesthesia. And so you need to have those conversations with your veterinarian.

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

That's probably the biggest concern that pet parents have. Veterinarians work very hard to mitigate those risks because those risks are real. General anesthesia is taking a cat and putting them completely under anesthesia and they're unconscious, they're immobile, which changes their physiology, changes their heart rate, changes their blood pressure. There are true risks with general anesthesia. Those are going to be something that you're going to talk with your veterinarian about. It's probably the biggest hurdle that we as veterinarians have to kind of walk with clients through is their worries about the risks of general anesthesia. We are all trained to put cats under general anesthesia, but you have to be comfortable and trust your veterinarian.

What kind of aftercare should I provide as my cat is coming out of anesthesia?

As your cat is coming out of anesthesia, you're really not going to be very involved with that because that's going to be the trained professional nurses and the doctors that are going to be helping that cat sort of come back from unconsciousness to consciousness. That can be a little bit of a sort of volatile time. It can be a real relaxing time for the pet, but there's also, sometimes the brain just comes back online very abruptly and comes back to consciousness. We need to be prepared for that fight or flight in some patients. We as veterinarians are going to be very carefully monitoring your cat as it comes out of general anesthesia and be there to gently get it back into recovery so it can go on with its healing process.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583 , 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. Noël Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

What kind of anesthesia is used for cats?

The most common types of anesthesia used for cats are injectable types. We often use drugs such as ketamine and alfaxalone. These dissociative drugs detach the conscious mind. To maintain these injectables, we commonly use gas anesthesia, the most common type being isoflurane. However, some hospitals use sevoflurane. Both are types of gas anesthetics used to keep your pet under general anesthesia.

What are common anesthetic procedures for cats?

The most common procedures involving general anesthesia for cats include a complete oral health assessment and treatment, dental cleaning, and spaying or neutering. Other instances involve intensive wound care or following unfortunate accidents like being hit by a car or a dog bite injury.

What's the difference between anesthesia, sedation, and general anesthesia?

Anesthesia involves taking your cat from consciousness to unconsciousness in a controlled way, often with an endotracheal tube to control the depth and duration. Sedation is used for shorter periods, like for diagnostic imaging or quick wound repairs. It immobilizes the cats, but they still have reflexes and some consciousness. General anesthesia involves intubation and a machine running to keep them under for a long period.

Will my cat need lab work before anesthesia?

Yes, we require blood work to be done before administering anesthesia. This helps us find out if your pet has any underlying organ issues that we need to know about before moving forward with the procedure or to confirm that they're healthy enough for general anesthesia.

How can I prepare my cat for anesthesia?

Preparation starts at home. If your pet is scheduled for a procedure, we'll often prescribe a calming pack - a set of medications or therapeutics for your pet to take before coming to the hospital. We'll usually call you a week before the procedure to come in and get these medications.

How do you monitor for safety on an anesthetized cat?

Safety is paramount when your cat is under general anesthesia. The overseeing doctor and a dedicated nurse, usually a licensed veterinary technician, will be present during the procedure. We also use monitors to keep track of the heart rhythm, blood pressure, oxygen levels, breathing, and temperature of the cat.

How long does anesthesia last for a cat?

The duration of anesthesia depends on what we need to accomplish. A dental procedure may require two to three hours of general anesthesia, while a neuter may only require 10 minutes. As long as we're monitoring and maintaining stable vitals, we can keep the cats under for as long as necessary.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583 , 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 2

Dr. Noël Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

What are some of the risks of anesthesia?

Some of the risks of anesthesia include hypothermia, complications with controlling airways, coughing due to interference with the trachea, risk of aspiration pneumonia due to a communication between the airway and the stomach and esophagus, development of arrhythmias and low blood pressures, and potential kidney injury.

How will my veterinarian talk to me about the risks of anesthesia?

A responsible veterinarian will make sure that you understand there are risks when a cat goes into general anesthesia. They should never gloss over those risks. They should explain how they know how to mitigate risk and how confident they are in doing so. They should also be open to discussing your past experiences with pet anesthesia. One unique aspect of what we do here at Blue Oasis is that we allow you to stay with your cat while they undergo a general anesthesia procedure. This enables you to witness how we work to mitigate those risks and ensure your pet's safety. Additionally, you can be present to ask questions as we guide your pet through the procedure.

Are there specific breeds that are high risk under anesthesia?

The brachycephalic breeds, such as Persians and Himalayans, which have more restricted airways due to their facial structure, could be considered a bit higher risk.

What can be done to minimize the risk and the side effects?

Mitigating risks and side effects involves having a complete health exam on your cat, conducting pre-anesthetic blood work to check organ function, and doing an ECG to examine the cardiac rhythm. Checking the heart health before anesthesia is also important.

Is it possible that my cat could die?

Yes, it is possible that your cat could die from general anesthesia, although it's a very minor risk if all precautions are taken. Veterinarians are trained medical professionals who know how to mitigate risks and promote safety, but there are things that are out of our control when an animal is under general anesthesia. Anesthetic death, although rare, is a real risk of general anesthesia.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583 , 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 3

Dr. Noël Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

How long does it take for anesthesia to wear off in a cat?

When we turn off the gas anesthesia, usually within about 5-10 minutes, cats start to regain consciousness and come out of general anesthesia, entering into the post-anesthetic period. This is the typical timeframe we expect when we turn off the gas for the cat to start coming back to consciousness.

How long until your cat's back to what you would consider normal behavior?

Returning to normal entails more than just coming out of anesthesia. It usually takes several hours, if not until the next day, for the cat to return to their full normal self after anesthesia. Sometimes, it can even take a couple of days, especially with the narcotics and pain medications we use. However, this does not mean they are not able to go home after they've recovered for several hours after anesthesia. They're usually back to looking around, able to get up and walk around their kennels, and can be safely transported home and put into a recovery place.

What can I expect in behavior when I bring my cat home from an anesthetic procedure?

After an anesthetic procedure, it's important not to let your cat go immediately back into their home, especially if there may be other pets or small children who may not interact with them in a friendly way. Cats recovering from anesthesia may be more prone to protect themselves. We recommend keeping your cat in its carrier when you take it home, put it into a quiet space like a bedroom or office, and let your cat come out of the carrier on its own. Be mindful to keep your cat away from small children and other pets that might disturb it while it's in recovery, and avoid allowing your cat to jump onto countertops or beds to prevent the risk of falling off.

What are the signs of complications that I should be watching for post-anesthesia?

Signs to watch for include profound lethargy, lack of interest in food, labored breathing, or coughing. Anything that gives you concern should give us concern. In such cases, be proactive and contact our office. At Blue Oasis, we also offer a telehealth service called Anapanion, where you can reach out to me or one of the other healthcare providers after hours or on weekends to discuss your pet's well-being.

If you have concerns about anesthesia safety, risk, or how to care for them before or after surgery, feel free to make an appointment with us. We also have a resource on our website, BlueOasisPetHospital.com, under resources, titled 'Preparing Your Cat for Anesthesia'. This contains a wealth of information that I've written, explaining how we aim to keep your pet safe before, during, and after anesthesia.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583 , 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