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Sleeping is a serious matter!

on November 13, 2012 - 4:21pm

 Ihave always found it a little strange that anaesthesia is an area that is often overlooked, when we are considering a surgical or invasive medical procedure for our pets.  In contrast, if we were going into hospital, and undergoing general anaesthesia on ourselves, it would be one of the things we would be most concerned about. Anaesthesia always carries a risk in cats, as it does in humans, and often more so than for some other species, but we want to reassure you that we do everything within our power to minimise this risk for your cat.

At the clinic, anaesthesia is not something we take lightly.  If we feel that your cat requires pre-anaesthetic screening, then it is because we are concerned that there may be something that shows up on the blood work that may change our approach i.e. the drugs that we use, the rate of intravenous fluids that we give and how long we hospitalise your cat for before and/or after the procedure. Remember that we pride ourselves on never doing something or selling you something that your cat doesn’t genuinely need. The reason that we believe some cats require pre-anaesthetic screening is that each cat is different and there is no ‘one plan fits all’ approach to anaesthesia in our clinic. This allows us to tailor every anaesthetic and pain management plan specifically for your cat taking into account their clinical history, pre-existing problems, age and the procedure being performed and so minimising the risks involved, every step of the way.

All our anaesthetics are monitored by qualified veterinary nurses under the supervision of a veterinary surgeon.  You may have assumed that this was the case at every practice that you have ever taken your pets to, but unfortunately it is commonplace and legal to allow non-qualified members of staff to monitor your cat’s anaesthetic.  We do not agree with this practice and will always ensure that only highly skilled, well trained and qualified professionals are in charge of your cat’s care including anaesthesia. Our staff are trained beyond the level normally required for anaesthesia and one of our nurses, in addition to holding the advanced diploma in veterinary nursing, holds a veterinary technician specialist qualification in anaesthesia and was the first nurse in the UK to achieve this.

Alongside our highly experienced and skilled team, we have some state of the art anaesthetic monitoring equipment to allow us to comprehensively monitor your cat’s heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate and effort, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and temperature for every procedure. This gives us a minute by minute picture of how your cat is responding to the drugs involved in anaesthesia and make adjustments where needed.  Alongside the monitoring equipment we have fluid pumps and syringe drivers to ensure that your cat receives exactly the amount of fluids and drug infusions they require and not a drop more or less! It is unusual for a practice that is not solely a referral hospital to boast such a range of anaesthetic equipment but we feel that anything less would not do justice to your cats or our expertise.

We warm every cat that undergoes general anaesthesia to try and maintain their body temperature as close to normal as possible throughout the procedure.  For cats that have undergone prolonged procedures and have a sub-optimal temperature we can warm them up during recovery using our incubator (the same kind used in human neonatal Intensive care). This incubator also allows us to administer oxygen as necessary in the recovery period.

As you would expect, pain management in the peri-operative period is thoughtfully planned and delivered according to each cat’s needs.  We take evidence from the most up to date resources and use sophisticated techniques such as epidural injections, local blocks for dental extractions and constant rate infusions  so that your cat is comfortable.  This also helps them to recover and heal as quickly as possible.  After operations, we use a validated pain scoring system to assess our patients, so that they continue to receive the appropriate level of pain killers.  This takes into account measured variables, such as pulse rate, but also our knowledge of an individual’s behaviour or personality.   Again, your cat is as unique to us as to you and your family.

We are sure that you have chosen our clinic for lots of other reasons and that this is just another assertion that your cats are in very safe hands!