Cat sedative information

Cat Anesthesia

What to Know When Your Cat Needs Anesthesia

There may come a time when your cat needs anesthesia for diagnostics, treatment, or surgical procedures. If your cat is going to require veterinary anesthesia, this is what you should know. As veterinary professionals, we carefully follow proper protocols to ensure the safety of our patients during anesthesia. This involves a thorough pre-anesthetic screening as well as monitoring your cat during and after the procedure.

Your veterinary team will help you understand what’s involved with anesthesia for your cat when needed during diagnostics or treatment. If you have questions about any anesthetic procedures, it’s vital to contact a local veterinarian for the best information for your specific pet - and for your peace of mind. 

Why Do Cats Need Anesthesia?

There are several different reasons your cat might need anesthesia. They would need it any time a procedure is performed that may be uncomfortable or potentially painful for them. It’s also necessary any time they need to be immobilized to ensure their safety and the quality of care they receive in the procedure. For example, any surgical procedure that would cause pain or discomfort to them would require anesthesia. If the procedure involves working with delicate tissues such as blood vessels or ligaments, anesthesia is needed to prevent pain and immobilize them so as to not interfere with the procedure. This allows the veterinarian to provide the best possible care. 

Pre-Anesthetic Screening for Cats

Before performing any procedure that would require cat anesthesia, your veterinary team will do an extensive evaluation and screening. This includes a thorough physical exam, a health history through records and talking with you, blood work, and occasionally x-rays and a urinalysis. This is to ensure that your cat is stable and will physically be able to process the anesthetic agents. 

Your veterinarian would modify anesthetics according to your cat’s procedure and age. For example, if your cat had a very superficial wound or a small growth on his or her skin, this would only require giving a light, local anesthetic to that area. Additionally, if your cat was older or compromised in some way - such as with a kidney problem or other condition - it does not mean your veterinarian can’t use cat anesthesia. It simply means that a different protocol and additional monitoring are required.

What Happens When My Cat is Put Under Anesthesia?

After all of the pre-anesthesia screening is complete, your veterinary team can begin the procedure to administer the anesthetic.

  1. First, your cat will be induced with an IV anesthetic.
  2. The medical team will insert a tube into the trachea, or windpipe. This is how they maintain and monitor the oxygen flow into your cat's lungs.
  3. Your cat will be put on a gas anesthetic that is attached to the tube going into the trachea so that doctors and technicians are able to administer both oxygen and the gas anesthetic at the same time.
  4. Once the anesthetic takes effect, your cat will be prepped for the surgery or other procedure, and then that procedure will be performed. 

During the procedure, a technician monitors several things to make sure your cat is tolerating the anesthesia well and that your cat is on an appropriate anesthetic plane. Blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and oxygen levels are all monitored very closely to ensure that your cat is supported throughout the procedure. The medical team also monitors your cat throughout the recovery from the anesthesia until they are completely awake and ready to go home.

What Can I Expect After My Cat’s Anesthesia?

Veterinarians and technicians monitor your cat closely until all parameters are safe and they are ready to go home. However, they may still experience some sedation several hours after the procedure. You may find that they are not acting quite themselves. This is either because there is still a small amount of the anesthetic in your cat’s system or the doctor may have administered pain medication before leaving the hospital. Your veterinarian doesn’t want your cat to experience pain or discomfort following the procedure so, in some cases, pain medication is necessary to provide that comfort after the anesthetic wears off. The medication can cause some sedation but it’s short term and very important because any pain is stressful for a pet, and that can interfere with recovery. 

Speak With Your Veterinarian About Anesthesia For Your Cat 

Cat anesthesia is very safe when they are well supported and monitored by a skillful and well-educated team of doctors and veterinary technicians. Reach out to a veterinarian near you to get the information you need on how to prepare for your cat’s procedure, and don’t hesitate to let him or her know if you have any questions.