Yes, it is possible to clean a cat’s teeth without a general anaesthetic but there are objections to it. It is called non-anaesthesia dental scaling (NAD or NADS). Apparently, is becoming more popular in America. The reason is because cat and dog owners are becoming more aware of the dangers of a general anaesthetic. Also, it is probably cheaper to have your cat’s teeth descaled without anaesthetic. Some veterinarians promote it. The AVMA object to it. Specifically, the American Veterinary Dental College objects to it.
The broad reason why veterinarians object to it is because veterinarian can’t do a good enough job unless the cat or dog is anaesthetised. It is impractical to get under the gumline where bacteria that causes periodontal disease resides unless under general anesthetic.
Also, descaling a cat’s teeth will be very uncomfortable for a cat which compounds the further discomfort by being strapped down so that she can’t move at all. There is the argument that the whole process will be very difficult emotionally for a cat and the end result won’t be as good as usual whereas, as mentioned, a general anaesthetic allows a veterinarian to do an excellent job in cleaning a cat teeth but there is a 1 in 400 or 1 in one thousand (we’re not quite sure what it is) of a cat dying under general anaesthetic or perhaps being left brain-damaged.
Therefore, a cat owner will have to make an informed decision in discussion with their veterinarian. Unfortunately, the outcome of that discussion will depend quite a lot on the attitude of the veterinarian to dental descaling without anaesthetic. Some veterinarians may well think that it works all right. Further, some veterinarians may try to avoid losing a client by suggesting dental cleaning without anaesthetic. However, I would expect nearly all veterinarians to argue against it and I suspect that most veterinarians won’t do it.
Most of them would probably agree that dental procedures performed when the cat or dog is wide-awake cannot effectively reach below the gumline or accurately assess the health of the cat’s teeth. It is impossible to evaluate gum recession and cavities called resorptive neck lesions without anaesthesia.
A veterinarian might remind the client that they would find it impossible to clean their cat’s teeth at home and examine all their cats teeth without anaesthetic. And veterinarians want to do a good job. They don’t want to leave the job half done. Also most veterinarians will be concerned about the stress and discomfort that the cat will be under without an anaesthetic. Finally, modern-day anaesthetics are safer than ever. Pre-anaesthetic evaluation and monitoring of the cat’s condition is carried out on modern day veterinary clinics to a high standard making them safer.
Have you ever asked your veterinarian to clean your cat’s teeth without anaesthetic?