Anesthetics are drugs used to block the sensation of pain. They are divided
into two categories: local anesthesia and general
Local anesthesia is used for surgery on the surface of the body, where it is
injected into tissues and around regional nerves. It may be applied topically
to mucous membranes. Local anesthetics (such as xylocaine) have the fewest
risks and side effects but are not suitable for most major surgeries.
First discovered in the 1960s, feline leukemia virus is a transmittable RNA retrovirus that can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of disease and death in domestic cats.
Because the virus doesn’t always manifest symptoms right away, any new cat entering a household-and any sick cat-should be tested for FeLV.
General anesthesia renders the cat
unconscious. It can be given by injection or inhalation. Light anesthesia
sedates or relaxes the cat and may be suitable for short procedures, such as
removing a foreign body from the mouth. Inhaled gases (such as halothane,
sevoflurane, and isoflurane) are administered through a tube placed in the
Combinations of anesthesia often are used to lessen potential side effects.
For example, ketamine and xylazine (Rompun) are common injectable anesthetics
used together for short procedures. The guideline dose of an injectable
anesthetic is computed by the cat’s weight. Since cats are unusually sensitive
to ordinary doses of a drug such as barbiturates, veterinarians often
administer the anesthetic in repeated small doses until the desired affect is
obtained, rather than giving it all at once.
For gas anesthesia, the mixture of oxygen and anesthetic is balanced and the
dose adjusted according to the breathing of the cat. Many factors require that
the exact dosage be customized to the individual cat. Certain breeds have an
increased sensitivity to barbiturates and other anesthesia, and that must also
be taken into account. This may be related to structure, such as cats with
short faces, or conformation, such as thin cats without extra weight or
Anesthesia is removed from the cat’s system by the lungs, liver, and
kidneys. Impaired function of these organs can cause dose-related
complications. If your cat has a history of lung, liver, kidney, or heart
disease, the risk from anesthesia and surgery is increased. Cats with those
problems may require less anesthetic to attain the needed depth of anesthesia
or may take longer to become fully aware after anesthesia. Presurgery bloodwork
is recommended to detect any such problems. Some clinics may also suggest chest
X-rays, an EKG, and blood pressure evaluations, especially if your cat is