Can a cat be too old for anaesthesia?

Original Question: We have an 18-year-old cat on Methimazole for his thyroid and Amlodipine for high blood pressure. He is also in the early stages of kidney failure. Our vet suggested that his teeth be cleaned but we are anxious about this because of his age and health. As you know there is a risk with anaesthesia and we would like your opinion as to whether or not the risk is too great or should we just let nature take its course? What would you think is the better idea for the cat’s sake and quality of life? Thank you. - Sharon

Can a cat be too old for anaesthesia? Mar 5, 2018

Hi Sharon,

You are not alone in having this dilemma.  First off, it sounds as though your veterinarian has done a great job so far in determining some of your cat’s medical problems and helping to manage them as is needed.  As I can’t see your cat’s teeth and do a complete physical exam, it will be up to your veterinarian to ascertain how necessary the dental cleaning and risk of anaesthetic are.

Some things to consider are how well controlled are your cat’s kidney and thyroid conditions?  Is there oral pain, inflamed gums, or broken teeth?  How is the rest of your cat’s overall health?  Is your veterinarian set up for the best anaesthetic monitoring and drug protocols?  And ultimately, does the potential benefit outweigh the risk?  These are some starting points to talk with your veterinarian about your concerns.   It definitely should be a decision made as a team.  If you decide not to go forward with an anaesthetic and cleaning and if the dental disease is mild enough, there may be less risky options such as dental diets.

I wish you luck in your decisions.

Dr. Ryan Llera

Disclaimer: healthcareforpets.com and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.

Related Q&A

  • Do you recommend a stool test for my cat who is on a raw food diet?
  • Answered by: Dennis Chmiel, DVM, MBA
  • Nov 25, 2020
  • When can you start brushing a cat’s teeth?
  • Answered by: Jeanne Perrone, MS, CVT, VTS (Dentistry)
  • Jun 13, 2020
  • Why does my cat have a runny nose and discharge in his eyes?
  • Answered by: Dr. Alex Avery, BVSc
  • May 16, 2019
  • What are some tips on how to get my cat to lose weight?
  • Answered by: Dr. Clayton Greenway
  • Feb 13, 2019