Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Anesthesia for Cats

Cats may require anesthesia for various medical procedures. This can include surgeries, dental cleanings, or diagnostic imaging. Today, our Gaithersburg vets will discuss anesthesia for cats and what you can expect from it.

Why use anesthesia on cats?

Some veterinary treatments, such as dentistry, spay and neutering procedures, and surgery, must be performed while your cat is sedated. Most healthy cats, including senior cats, have no problems with anesthesia, and the dangers are generally tied to the treatment being performed rather than the anesthetic itself.

Is anesthesia safe for cats?

Anesthesia can be safe for cats when administered by a trained veterinarian and the cat is closely monitored throughout the procedure. However, there are always risks associated with anesthesia, so any concerns should be discussed with your veterinarian before proceeding.

Are there any risks to anesthesia?

When we employ any anesthetic drug, there is always the possibility of an unpleasant reaction. Patients who are sedated lose their typical reflex capacity to swallow. If there is food in the stomach, the cat may vomit while under anesthesia or shortly afterward.

Almost half of all anesthetic-related feline deaths occur within the first few hours of surgery. There are always risks when administering anesthetic medication to a patient, regardless of how long they are sedated. Reactions can be moderate to severe, with a variety of symptoms, including edema at the injection site. Fasting before anesthesia, as recommended by your veterinarian, is critical for reducing your cat's risk.

Why do I need to sign an anesthetic consent form?

It is critical that you completely comprehend what will happen to your cat and that you are aware of the hazards involved with an anesthetic.

The form will include consent to perform surgery or another specified diagnostic testing, as well as an estimate of the treatments' projected costs. Before undertaking anesthetic operations, the veterinarian is required by law in many places to seek written agreement from the owner. 

How is anesthesia administered?

In cats, anesthesia can be administered via inhalation, intravenous injection, or a combination of the two. Inhalation anesthesia involves the cat inhaling anesthetic gases through a mask or endotracheal tube, whereas intravenous injection delivers anesthesia directly into the bloodstream for quick onset and maintenance.

Do vets monitor an anesthetized cat?

Yes, we do! Several practices are in place to make sure your cat doesn't suffer any complications from anesthesia. These include:

  • A technician or assistant is present during the anesthetic event to monitor your cat's vital signs and to help adjust anesthetic levels, under the direction of the veterinarian.
  • A heart rate monitor counts your cat's heartbeats per minute. Anesthesia and other factors can affect heart rate. By monitoring your cat's heart rate, your veterinarian can make anesthetic adjustments quickly.
  • An electrocardiogram (ECG) measures your cat's heart rate and rhythm. It can detect arrhythmias, which are irregular heartbeats. If an arrhythmia is discovered, your veterinarian can adjust the anesthetic accordingly.
  • If your cat is enduring a lengthy surgical treatment, their core body temperature may be monitored. Body temperature fluctuations might lead to serious problems.
  • A blood pressure monitor measures the blood pressure of your cat. It provides detailed information on your cat's cardiovascular state when used in conjunction with other monitoring equipment.
  • Pulse oximetry may be used to monitor the amount of oxygen in your cat's blood and their pulse rate. 
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) is frequently monitored alongside oxygen because it helps assess if your cat is getting enough oxygen under anesthesia.

How long does anesthesia last in cats?

The duration of anesthesia in cats varies according to the type of anesthesia used and the cat's overall health. Anesthesia in cats can last anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours, with some effects lasting up to 24 hours after the procedure.

When can a cat eat after anesthesia?

Cats can usually eat within a few hours of waking up from anesthesia, but it is critical to follow your veterinarian's specific instructions, if they provide any. They may advise waiting a certain amount of time or beginning with small amounts of food to avoid digestive problems.

Are there specific behaviors I should look for after my cat's anesthesia?

After anesthesia, you should monitor your cat for signs of disorientation, weakness, and lack of appetite. Additionally, keep an eye out for any unusual vocalizations or excessive licking or grooming behaviors. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your cat isn't back to normal 24 hours after anesthesia.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you notice any concerning behaviors in your cat after anesthesia, contact our Gaithersburg vets. Your cat's wellness is our top priority.

New Patients Welcome

Veterinary Referral Associates is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Gaithersburg companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (301) 926-3300