What is anesthesia?

Anesthesia comes in different types, but generally, the word originates from the Greek Anais, which means without, and Thetos, which means sensation. So it means "without sensation," and it involves the process of administering drugs and gases to render a patient unable to feel pain.

Dr. William Sean Penn
Horizon Animal Hospital

Why would my cat need anesthesia?

Some surgical procedures or even some examination procedures require anesthesia to calm the patient down, so they have less stress and overall keep them out of pain.

How do I know anesthesia is safe for my cat?

The veterinarian will do a full physical exam before the anesthesia to determine if any anesthetic risks need to be considered. Overall, anesthesia is very safe, and we use many of the same agents used in human anesthesia.

Does it matter how old my cat is?

As I like to say, age is not a disease. I would much rather anesthetize a 15-year-old cat with no diseases than a two-year-old cat with heart disease. Evaluating for medical problems, as in any case, is what we do to prevent risk.

What is the difference between anesthesia and sedation?

General anesthesia causes cats to be completely unconscious and unable to feel anything. Sedation sometimes just puts them into twilight, to use the common term in the human world, but they're not necessarily completely unconscious.

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

The main thing that we need to know is the health status of the cat and any potential complications that could arise from the procedure that we're utilizing or that we're doing. As I said before, anesthesia is very safe. We ensure that we're doing proper monitoring when we have the cat under anesthesia.

What do we do on the day of surgery to make sure that we're keeping my cat as safe as we can be?

Aside from the full physical exam, once the cat is placed under anesthesia, we do full monitoring with EKG machines, respiratory monitoring, pulse symmetry, blood pressure, as well as hands-on assessment of anesthetic depth and response to the procedure that the veterinarian may be doing.

Is blood work and fasting required the day of?

It depends on the medical condition of the cat. Sometimes we may have done blood work a couple of weeks or even months earlier, and we may deem that adequate. Blood work is always a nice baseline factor to have. As far as fasting goes, we usually fast cats with the exception of emergency procedures. In those cases, we just make sure to protect the airway so that there are no concerns of aspiration or vomiting.

What type of care should I provide as my cat is coming out of anesthesia?

By the time the cat comes home from anesthesia, most of the anesthetic effects from the drugs will have worn off. Some anesthetics can cause some sedation, which is a risk factor for falling. So for the cat that likes to jump up on their favorite little perch, it might be a good idea to make sure that they are capable of doing it without getting injured. The other thing is that anesthesia will often affect appetite, so it's not unusual for a cat to not eat very well the night of the procedure or even sometimes the next morning.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (480) 614-9500, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.