London Cat Clinic

6 Stanley St
London, ON N6C 1A8


What You Need to Know Before Your Cat's Upcoming Surgery


Many people have questions about various aspects of their cat's surgery, and we hope this information will help.  It also explains the decisions you will need to make before your cat's upcoming surgery.


Is the anesthetic safe?

Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.  We have the ability to monitor oxygen levels, temperature, blood pressure, breathing and our technicians constantly monitor depth as well as hands-on vital assessment (no machine replaces the human element).

At London Cat Clinic, our technicians do a basic physical exam on your cat before administering anesthetics in order to check vitals, and we also ensure on admittance that your cat is feeling well.  If there are any concerns, our Veterinarian, Dr. Rosenberg, will check your cat as well.  We also weigh your cat and if there is any significant weight change from your cat's normal weight, this will be brought to Dr. Rosenberg's attention (weight loss can be a first sign of illness).  

If it has been a while since your cat came to see us, in most cases, we schedule an examination with the Veterinarian prior to the procedure.  For some brief procedures, we may have the Veterinarian do a more complete exam prior to the anesthetic being given on the morning of drop off (for procedures such as grooms, etc). 

We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet and the procedure being performed. 

All surgical and dental and groom cases are kept warm with a "Baer Hugger" - a device like a fancy blow drier that blows warm air into a blanket that shrouds your cat.  Low body temperature is a significant detriment to your cat and being small animals is always a risk so we monitor temperature carefully.

Intravenous (IV) fluids are given during almost every anesthetic, except those in which the procedure is very short and the anesthetic is likely to be reversed or if sedation is given, we may not give IV fluids if the procedure is short of the cat is not fully anesthetized. IV fluids are always an option though and for some cats with pre-existing disease, we may recommend IV fluids before and/or after the anesthetic as well.

Blood pressure is monitored closely on all anesthetics, and IV fluids, drugs, changes in anesthetics or sometimes cessation of the procedure are used to remedy low blood pressure if it occurs.  Low blood pressure during anesthetics are VERY detrimental to health, especially kidney and brain function.   We take this very seriously always remedy low blood pressure aggressively.

All fully anesthetized cats are put on a breathing circuit with a tracheal tube in place to protect the airway and give oxygen.  Oxygen is monitored closely during the anesthetic.

Your cat needs to be fasted (no food for 12 hours, no water from bedtime for young cats - senior cats are left with water until the morning, when the water should be removed as well).  Diabetics have different needs, so please enquire.

No anesthetic if 100% safe, but as you can see we monitor our patients very closely and treat each patient like they are our own.  We have had the opportunity to check many of our patients before and a while after anesthetics, even those that already had kidney insuffiency, and so many of those cats came out of anesthetics with no discernible differences in kidney function.  We routinely anesthetize very senior cats too (18+ years old) and we believe age is not a disease if they are monitored appropriately.

What is this pre-anesthetic blood testing about?

  1. Preanesthetic blood testing is recommended prior to any anesthetic and is an option for younger cats that are healthy.  We can do a basic blood screen that morning for routine cases and it will let us check kidney function, ensure your cat is not anemic and check that protein levels are good for adequate wound healing.

  2. For cats with heart murmurs or concerns for heart disease, a Pro-BNP blood test may be recommended - this test takes several days to come back so needs to be done  several days before the intended surgery.  Sometimes an Echo of the heart is warranted.  Both of these options would be discussed with you at your examination PRIOR to scheduling your appointment.  For senior cats with heart murmurs, a blood pressure check and a T4 level, as well as other routine senior testing would be required - hyperthyroidism is a significant added risk for anesthetics in older cats.

  3. Senior cats in general, should have blood screens done before anesthetics - these would also be done a few days before the procedure, as they are sent out to our referral lab, and in order to get the specialized testing back.   There are a few different profiles that can be run and they will be explained to you, with the options, during your appointment.

Will my pet have stitches?

For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin.  These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later.  Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin stitches.  With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge.  Most cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is an occasional problem, and tend to occur more often in some locations than others.  If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery.  You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for a time, which usually means no interactive playing.

Will my pet be in pain?

Anything that causes pain in people can be expected to cause pain in animals.  Cats may not show the same symptoms of pain as people do; they don't whine or cry, but you can be sure they feel it.  Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed.  Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.

Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we are more limited in what we can give them.  However, recent advances in pain medications have allowed for much better pain control in cats than ever before and more options as well. 

We always administer a pain injection 10 to 30 minutes prior to surgery.  During surgery we often block the site with a local anesthetic too (especially for dental procedures).  After surgery, pain medication is given in hospital and then additional medication is sent home for 1 day for minor procedures to a week or more if more serious procedures.  We practice Multi-Modal pain relief commonly, which involves using more than 1 type of pain medication to get enhanced benefits than either one gives on its own, and allows us to be able to use lower doses of each of them.

What other decisions do I need to make?

While your cat is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as dentistry, ear cleaning, or implanting an identification microchip.  If you would like an estimate for these extra services, please call ahead of time.  This is especially important if the person dropping the pet off for surgery is not the primary decision maker for your cat's care.

When you bring your cat in for surgery, we will need 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork, get an update from you and make decisions on the blood testing if not already done.  When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs with either the technician or the Veterinarian.

We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time you will be dropping your cat off and to answer any questions you might have.  In the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your cat's health or surgery.