How long should my cat fast before general anesthesia? (and other worries...)

meto

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I've decided to take Caine in for his first dental cleaning tomorrow at 8am, alongside getting his eyes checked out. He's around 6 years old and I adopted him from a shelter as an adult, so we're both very new to this, and I think I'm much more worried than he is for now...

I was told by the vet to take away his food the night before, at 10pm. This would be 10 hours before his appointment begins. I've never taken away his dry food before (he uses a slow-feeder) and we have a happy morning routine around his wet food. When I looked up this time frame online, I see a variety of recommended fasting periods from 3 to 12 hours prior to surgery. I read that the risk of vomiting is not actually diminished by fasting more than 6 hours:

"Withholding food for 6–12 h prior to anesthesia or instructions for ‘nothing after midnight’ have traditionally been recommended but are not evidence based." "Long fasting times do not necessarily ensure that a cat’s stomach will be empty. Stress, meal size and lack of dietary moisture can slow gastric emptying. Therefore, the anesthetist must always be prepared for perioperative vomiting. Although there are no data in cats, shorter fasting times (3–4 h) with provision of a small wet food meal 3–4 h before anesthesia may be adopted at the clinician’s discretion."

As much as I am indeed worried from an emotional perspective about his discomfort and hunger, I'm focused on analyzing this instead from a rational perspective where I minimize the risk of complications. He has a relatively clear medical history and no diseases, so I just want to hear as many opinions as possible and hopefully find some studies which answer this question properly...

As a side note, I'm also worried about the rate of feline death on anesthesia in general: "Subsequent international work has reported the risk of anaesthetic-related death in cats to be approximately 0.1–0.2%" and whether it's even worth it at all to get his teeth cleaned, when it will cause him so much distress. He doesn't have any tooth problems, the doctor said it's entirely preventative so I'm getting it at a discount, and the rate of death is reportedly 1 in 500~1000... Yeesh. Not that he'll need his teeth cleaned 1000 times, but if I personally had an elective procedure with that death rate I'd definitely opt out, and just go in for the eye inspection and leave. I know it's different, I know there are risks whether I take him or not. I'm just worried.

Do you all get your cats' teeth cleaned like this? It's all so new and nerve-wracking to me. I'm setting aside my worries about things like money and Caine's temporary discomfort, to ask about what you all think is best. I've always received excellent responses from everyone here and I look forward to hearing your perspectives. Thank you very much for any advice
 

klunick

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I have never gotten cats's teeth cleaned but taking away food the night before is standard. Makes you feel like crap but honestly the cats really don't mind as much as we think they do.
 

neely

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I understand your apprehension but if Caine has never had his teeth cleaned and he's approximately six years old it may be a good preventative procedure. Did the vet do bloodwork prior to your appointment to confirm that there are no potential health risks? If not, I would be hesitant and definitely call the vet to ask. Regarding when to take his food up I generally do it 10 - 12 hrs. before the dental cleaning. Did the vet say whether they plan to take x-rays? Sometimes there is a problem that is not visible but can be detected by x-rays. Try not to worry and if you have any second thoughts or concerns call your vet to discuss it with them. They should be able to answer your questions and put your mind at ease. Please keep us posted. :alright:
 

fionasmom

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Years ago, a substitute vet that I did not like neutered a TNR cat for me without bothering to ask when he had his last meal which was approximately 3 hours earlier. I had a fit, but the cat did not have any complications. Having said that, I would not mess with fasting regulations. Just because the vet is prepared for perioperative vomiting does not mean that it might not be a complication.

I have never had vet tell me to relax fasting times and have never had a human surgeon tell me that eating a little bit before surgery would be okay.
 
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meto

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I understand your apprehension but if Caine has never had his teeth cleaned and he's approximately six years old it may be a good preventative procedure. Did the vet do bloodwork prior to your appointment to confirm that there are no potential health risks? If not, I would be hesitant and definitely call the vet to ask. Regarding when to take his food up I generally do it 10 - 12 hrs. before the dental cleaning. Did the vet say whether they plan to take x-rays? Sometimes there is a problem that is not visible but can be detected by x-rays. Try not to worry and if you have any second thoughts or concerns call your vet to discuss it with them. They should be able to answer your questions and put your mind at ease. Please keep us posted. :alright:
Thank you for your response, so he has had bloodwork in the past but it was a year or two ago. Should I ask if they plan to take blood when he arrives, or is the old data generally enough to rule out underlying conditions? Yes they will do X-rays, which is good. They said they'll charge 150 for the cleaning and then it would be 200ish in total with the X-rays. It's a very good deal, but I hope they aren't cutting corners...
 

neely

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Bloodwork should be done within the last six months and cannot be done when he arrives as it would be too late to get results. I don't want to worry you but I would ask why they didn't do bloodwork prior to Caine's appointment. Although not mandatory I'm guessing the dental cleaning will not be done by a veterinary dental specialist.
 

carebearbaby1

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We tell people to fast from midnight the night before. Some clinics can run bloodwork in house, so they might be able to do the test that morning. I definitely recommend preventative cleanings. The risk is very minimal, especially in a healthy adult cat.
 
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meto

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Bloodwork should be done within the last six months and cannot be done when he arrives as it would be too late to get results. I don't want to worry you but I would ask why they didn't do bloodwork prior to Caine's appointment. Although not mandatory I'm guessing the dental cleaning will not be done by a veterinary dental specialist.
Hmm this is a good point. When i looked it up, I think the consensus is that if the cat is under 7 years old, blood work isn't usually prescribed. I'm guessing they might say something like that. That's not necessarily a good excuse though, maybe I should cancel and go somewhere else. But I'm looking online and I don't think there's a veterinary dental specialist in my city. There are other options, but they might just be the same, except for being a little more strict on the bloodwork side of things. Caine is fasting right now, so I want to do something today and not waste the preparation. That could certainly be me taking him in for bloodwork somewhere instead, if that's necessary... Very difficult decision.
 
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meto

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Hey, just wanted to give an update! So he's currently at the vet and I'm sitting around waiting to pick him up. They do in fact perform lab tests before the anesthesia at this clinic, so that was very reassuring to hear and I had no further reservations in taking him in for his scheduled visit. I also followed the fasting guidelines to a tee, so he hasn't eaten since 10pm last night. Everything should be fine so I'll only update if anything big and relevant comes up. If he needs an extraction or something that's par for the course, all the more reason to make this a more regular thing. I'm overall feeling pretty confident that taking a cat in for dental cleanings is a good idea. Thanks again everyone for your advice and experience!
 

neely

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Thanks for the update, I'm sure Caine will be fine. :thumbsup: You're a great cat parent and very thorough for checking everything out.
 
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