Periodontal disease - vet needs to clean under the gums hence general anesthetic - Photo by Eric__I_E
We should know the risks associated with professional dental cleaning of our cat's teeth. Whether we agree to having our cat's teeth cleaned depends on balancing risk and reward (health benefits).
The risk was brought home to me about 2 months ago. I was at a veterinarians and got talking to a person in the waiting room, as you do. They are nervous moments. I dislike vet's waiting rooms. But I like to de-stress by talking to fellow customers.
Well, he was with his old lady cat. She was having her teeth cleaned by the vet. He had been told that the risk of a cat dying under anesthetic was 1 in 100 or a 1% chance. He was nervous about it but had decided to proceed. That risk seemed high just for clean teeth. Clean teeth and healthy gums are important to overall cat health but....the risk seems high because the downside is so total.
The figure of a 1% chance of death may be too high. Two research articles say that the risks of death in general is 1 in 233 or 1 in 895. For sick cats undergoing the cleaning process the risk climbs substantially to 1 in 71.
I find these slightly scary numbers. Clearly the vet does a physical check up and some blood and urine work beforehand to make sure that the cat is fit for general anesthetic but this is not foolproof.
The risk of "complications" is much higher at 1 in 9. Vomiting causing asphyxiation is a risk too it seems.
All in all would you take that risk on behalf of your cat? Some cats are thankfully predisposed to good oral health but some are not.