Q: I have a 14-year-old female Persian cat. She has had severe dental problems since she was diagnosed with kidney failure in October of last year. I have taken her to a couple of vets to have her teeth evaluated, but they all said that her kidney disease prevents them from anesthetizing her, and they give me antibiotics instead. Her dental condition is getting worse every day, despite the antibiotics. She is interested in food, but she can’t eat well and I think that she is in pain. What can I do?
A: I disagree with veterinarians who feel that kidney disease precludes anesthetizing a cat. A cat’s chronic renal failure does not pose a significant risk for anesthesia if the cat is on intravenous fluids and is monitored properly. In fact, starting the cat on intravenous fluids several hours before the dental cleaning and continued several hours after the cleaning will probably make the cat feel great afterward, as the fluids flush out the kidney toxins from the blood stream.
If a geriatric cat has mild to moderate dental disease but is eating normally and is doing well, it may be OK to monitor the situation and not necessarily perform a dental cleaning. But in cases like yours, what alternative is there? Your cat is in pain and cannot eat well. Allowing your cat to be in pain and lose weight because she cannot eat is not an option. Your cat needs a dental cleaning. Find a veterinary hospital that understands your situation and feels confident that they can anesthetize your cat properly and clean the teeth. I wish you luck.