Anesthesia For Cats

QUESTION:

Is it possible to use a local instead of general anesthesia? I have a cat that is almost 18 but in great health except for a breast lump. The vet would like to remove it, but I'm afraid of her being put under.

ANSWER:

Cats often don't sit still for an exam in the vet's office, much less surgery.

In a very rare cat with an amazingly compliant personality having an extremely minor procedure (and honestly, I can't even think of one minor enough), a local might be used.

However, in general, cats aren't going to lie still on their backs to have any procedure on their abdomen, even if a local is controlling the pain.

In addition to that, removing a breast lump is not a minor procedure. Almost all mammary lumps in cats are malignant and there is no point in taking them off unless you take the entire mammary gland off, in fact the entire mammary chain on the side of the lump. That is major surgery.

Even then, there's not a great prognosis.

In addition, your kitty is 18 years old, certainly a greater surgical risk than a younger cat. There will also be pain after the surgery which is harder to tolerate in older cats.

Has your vet taken x-rays (3 views) of her lungs to make sure there hasn't been metastasis? Has complete bloodwork been done including a thyroid level to be sure she has no organ dysfunction?

I guess I'm getting off the subject, but the issues I raise are all of concern to me.

Bottom line, no, it can't be done with a local. I would advise you to consider whether you want her to have the procedure at all. I'd be happy to answer any other questions you have if you'd like to write back.

Thank you,
Dr. Neely

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