At 17 years of age, Timmy is not a young cat, but a recent general anaesthetic and dental procedure has given him a new lease on life. During a recent wellness examination it was noticed that Timmy had a small red dot on one of his teeth, right at the edge of the gum line. A very small sign of a potentially painful problem in his mouth. Touching the tooth caused Timmy to chatter his jaw and react uncomfortably. Most people who have had a sore tooth will lament the pain and how unhappy their tooth made them feel.
This painful reaction to the tooth being touched suggested that Timmy likely had an ORL (Odontoclastic Resporptive Lesion) or a small hole in his tooth. These are painful lesions in the mouths of our pets that can often look very mild on the surface but are much more significant under the gum line.
Timmy had some blood tests done which showed that his internal organs (liver, kidney, etc) all seemed to be working well, and so he was booked in for his procedure. At 17 years old Timmy’s owners were understandably concerned about him having an anaesthetic, but with the advances in medicine and anaesthetics, these procedures are becoming safer. All our patients are given the highest standards of care when it comes to anaesthetics; intravenous catheters, blood pressure monitoring, ETCO2 monitoring AND a dedicated qualified veterinary nurse who stays with the patient from the beginning to the end of the procedure.
Timmy’s anaesthetic went well and he had to have two teeth removed because he had another sore tooth in the back of his mouth that also had an ORL. He recovered well from his anaesthetic and that night he ate his dry kibble. Since then he has been more lively and frisky around the house than he has for many years. He has seemingly found some new energy and is acting several years younger according to his owners.
Cats are great masters of hiding any sign of pain that they may be feeling. Often in cats we don’t appreciate how much discomfort they are feeling until we treat their pain and see the improvement in behaviour and lifestyle and we then understand what they would have been feeling.
No cat or dog is “too old for an anaesthetic”. There may be other reasons (such as disease or metabolic concerns) to not perform an anaesthetic but age is not a disease or a reason to let your pet suffer dental pain.
Here's a letter from Timmy:
"Well, what can I say – I have heaps of energy. I love to chase my brother, Patch and my sister, Scampie around the house. I may be an old cat now, and my energy may be a little less now than what it was in my younger years, but I still have “what it takes”. I love spending time in my cat enclosure, which has a garden that is “animal friendly” – a big bench for me and my siblings to lay out on – decked out with cushions and rugs, tables and chairs and a wonderful cat bed for me to lounge around on in the sun. It is great having a cat enclosure as it keeps me and my siblings safe, but also keeps the environment safe from us. That is, the bird life. I love almost any food – I am not a fussy eater at all. But my favourite food is beef mince which I have every Sunday as a special treat. I am very affectionate, particularly to my mum, but really to anyone that comes to visit. I am a very sociable cat, not at all like Patch and Scampie, who prefer their own company. I love to sit on my mum’s lap and watch TV, especially football, and when I was younger I used to race up to the TV and try and get the ball. I never managed to do so – still trying to work that out? But even though I am older now, I still remain very active and engaged in the world. I love spending time with my owners and love having people stroke me and talk to me. I also love my dog, Abby – we get on very well, and she is very good with all of us.
I would like to encourage any older cat who is considering surgery to go ahead with it – being an older cat doesn’t mean you can’t do well, in fact, I think quite the opposite as I have had some pretty risky surgery in the past and have come through well - Thanks to the Team at the Adelaide Animal Hospital. ~ Timmy"