Note: I wrote a while ago in draft and forgot about it so I have published it today. It is instructive. There is a risk when a domestic cat is taken to the veterinarian to have their teeth cleaned. I believe that veterinarians tend to underplay the risk. They might say that one in several thousand cats suffer brain damage or die because of the anaesthetic. My research which took place some time ago indicated to me that the risk could be about 1 in 400 cats suffering some kind of major health issue because of the general anaesthetic during dental cleaning. This can lead to brain damage and death. Or the cat is euthanised because the cat has been brain-damaged.
It presents to the cat owner a great dilemma. If the owner is aware of these risks then they have to decide between the necessity of dental cleaning and the risk of their cat not coming through the operation.
In this instance a cat owner, Anita, was unaware of the risks. She felt that the operation was routine. It seems that her veterinarian did not explain the risks to her. She commented on this website and I have reproduced it below. It’s sad and distressing but it drives home to the uninformed the dangers of this operation.
I don’t want to overstate the dangers but I do want to make sure that cat guardians are aware of them.
Just lost Toffee, my 9 yr old British short-hair. Dropped her off to the vets this morning without a second glance for a “routine” procedure (teeth cleaning) and got a message on my answer machine in the afternoon that she had experienced air build-up in the thorax, her heart stopped and she stopped breathing.
Despite trying to resuscitate she experienced loss of oxygen to the brain and so they suspected serious brain damage. They explained that the procedure itself (cleaning and extraction of 3 teeth) went smoothly and she seemed fine afterwards but then she got into a critical stage of build-up of air.
The vet explained that they had to remove 400ml of air trapped in the thorax which was an unusually high amount and her lung never fully recovered from the impact. I feel devastated, guilt-ridden and am still reeling from the shock. I cannot believe the outcome and blame myself for trusting the experts without really understanding the risks.