Elderly cat and anesthesia
I had posted this in the Introductions forum, but did not receive many replies so I asked Admin for permission to repost this here. Thank you.
Hello everyone. My cat Pandora and I live on an Island off Washington State with my husband and we are retired - us, not Pandora.
We are facing a terrible dilemma
Pandora adopted us from a shelter in June of 1998. Our beloved cat had recently died from CRF so in his honor we decided to give homes to two kitties who were on "death row" in shelters. Pandora had been seized from her previous owners under a court order charging those owners with abuse. We literally grabbed her out of the arms of a vet tech who was taking her to the room where animals were to be euthanized. Our vet assessed her at approximately 3 years old. She had little fur and weighed under 3 pounds. She had several broken teeth. It took two years before she would allow us to pet her as she was terrified of humans.
At the time we lived on the east coast and had wonderful vetrinary care. Once her physical condition was stabilized (initially our vet didn't think she would survive at all), she had extensive dental work done. She has since thrived and become an affectionate, loving pet. She turned out to be a tan and seal Himalayan.
She is now somewhere between 14 and 16 years old, and 3 years ago we moved here. We have now seen 4 vets, all of whom recommended extensive dental work requiring general anesthesia. If she were younger, I would not hesitate, but she does NOT appear to be in pain, and I wonder if our beloved pet who died just before Pandora joined us developed his renal disease after receiving general anethesia for dental work he received about 6 months before he was diagnosed with renal disease. I read somewhere that that could be a side effect of such anesthesia. There are no holistic vets anywhere in our area.
What I do not understand is the relative risks of giving a cat her age general anesthesia compared with allowing her to go without the dental work 4 vets have recommended. The reason she has seen 4 vets is that vet #1 we discovered has a reputation for recommending expensive procedures that are unnecessary, but he does have what appears to be a top notch, modern hospital. Vet #2 we like, but he is very clumsy and could not even take blood from her successfully. Further, his office does not appear to have very sophisticated, modern equipment. Vet #3 was a Canadian vet we took her to on a vacation a couple of months ago when she was constipated. And since the Canadian had no financial interest in telling us she needed dental work, we tried out vet #4 two weeks ago and actually had set up an appointment for the anesthesia yesterday, but I freaked out and cancelled it. Vet#4 seems to have a slightly more modern facility than vet #2, and had his vet techs take blood as he was honest enough to say they were better at it. Her blood work was almost normal except for slightly elevated kidney values consistent with her age, but not significant for any kidney disease.
We have not noticed any changes in her behavior in recent years. She does appear to be eating normally, though sleeping more, but heck - I sleep more, too, as I get older. If I thought she was in pain, I would have the procedure done, and I know cats seldom show they are in pain, but how does one tell?
How can I make the decision that is best for her?
Thank you in advance for any advice.