Trick and the Dental Surgery Saga

Okay, so… shortly before Catmus, I took all three cats in for overdue vaccinations (it had been about 4 years) – mainly rabies, which is required by law annually here, but I did go along with a FVRCP booster even though I’m unconvinced that it’s necessary after initial shots and there ARE risks. Partly because we’re hoping it will help with Cory’s calicivirus attacks. I probably won’t get Trick vaccinated any more, though. But anyway…

The vet, of course, gave them a check-up. Verified that Trick’s odd lumps are harmless fatty lipomas. Noted that the odd little horny growth on Freya’s left forepaw finger-pad is probably harmless and can be removed easily at some point when she’s anaesthetised for something else. And looked at teeth. Her evaluation: Trick, one tooth resorbing, the nerve exposed; Cory, in dire need of cleaning for gingivitis; Freya, okay for now but eventually needs a cleaning.

Argh. Cat dental stuff is about the most expensive I can think of, short of emergencies.

So, using mainly the money I’ve been squirrelling away intending to get Cory’s teeth cleaned pro-actively, we came up with the money to get Trick to the vet. That was last Monday. This means, the night before, no food after 9pm, and no water after 7am. Lemmetellya, our kids were not impressed. Sleep was in short supply. Trick was so unthrilled that I thought he was going to trash Cory’s soft carrier, so we had to put him in the old small hard one, and not easily, I might add.

Get to the vet, and find out an oxygen valve isn’t working. Can’t do surgery safely. Do I want to leave him and hope that it’s easily fixed when the service peeps come, or take him home and reschedule? Dreading the idea of another night of fasting, I left him there for a bit. As it turns out, it was a major repair and all surgeries were cancelled. At least his blood work got done… Anyway, rebooked for a week’s time. (I called this a saga for a reason.)

Fasting again last night. I can hardly feed the other two kids and not let Trick have any, and isolating him would just start ramping his stress earlier. I have an odd quirk: when my kids are fasting, I refuse to eat, either, usually until I at least know they’re coming out of anaesthesia okay. So, no breakfast for me. (I did break down and have some tea and a liberal handful of peanuts when I got back from the vet, though.) Trick kicked up a big fuss about going in the carrier. Guess he remembers last week!

Spoke to the vet earlier. He was under anaesthesia, smoothly and deeply. She thinks she may have figured out his history of agitation when coming out: because he’s “fractious” (I like that word for him, it’s so much better than “has attitude worthy of a tortie when he feels he’s being treated disrespectfully”) he’s all worked up and the initial sedation probably wasn’t working well, and he was getting a lot of extra gas at the very beginning. She sedated him pretty thoroughly with something that wasn’t in common use even a couple of years ago, and lo and behold, he’s coming out of it groggy (of course) but without signs of agitation.

Given that last time, he was so “fractious” that while they were trying to get the IV out of his arm afterwards, he decided he’d had enough. I got him back with blood everywhere and a lot of apologies. He wasn’t hurt, and I gather neither was anyone else (at least seriously) but, well, yeah. His first anaesthesia, to get neutered, I swear he was convinced for 18 hours that monsters were going to eat him – I had to just close the door of one room and stay with him to calm him, with Jackie bringing me food and covering so I could use the bathroom.

So, tooth report.

The x-rays show more teeth in trouble, which isn’t a surprise. When a cat has teeth resorbing, it tends to be a recurring problem. No one knows why (someone get on that and figure it the hell out, plzkthx!!!). Last time, he had three bad teeth – if I recall correctly, two of them had broken off at gum level. If you have a cat, you might want to do a little research on the subject, ’cause estimates are that anywhere from 1 in 4 up to 2 in 3 cats has this particular tendency, and it’s horribly painful – in an extremely simplified nutshell, the body re-absorbs the calcium from the teeth, starting with the enamel, which means the whole tooth gradually breaks down and exposes the nerves and all, often breaking off. This is Trick’s second set, but probably not the last. *sigh*

Anyway.

1) Top right canine. Came out intact, crown and root both. Might have been okay for a while, but was going to go bad eventually, so better to get it out now. All bad tissue cleaned up and the socket stitched.

2) Lower right canine. The root was so broken down that it was hardly visible on x-rays, and the ligament that should be there was absent. She took the crown off, cleaned up the whole area. It was impossible to tell where the root ended and the bone of the jaw began, because of the resorption, and under specific conditions, it’s just not worth the extra trauma to mess with it when it’s just going to basically finish what it was doing anyway. Socket stitched up.

She did warn me that with both canines missing, that side of his face is going to look a little flatter. So what? If we even cared, which we don’t, it probably wouldn’t show with that white cheek thing he’s got going, anyway. As long as he isn’t hurting, it’s all good.

3) The tooth we expected to come out, halfway back on the top left (my bad, can’t recall exactly which). Root was going, badly. The bone between there and his nasal passages was rather thin, and removing the tooth caused what’s called a fistula – an opening. She’s confident that it’s not going to be a long-term problem, but warned me there may be a bit of blood from his nose so don’t worry (a lot, on the other hand, we worry about). She got the tooth out and as much of the root as possible, and stitched the gums over the socket. As they heal, they’ll close the fistula.

4) Apparently there was a tiny tooth right in front of that, that they didn’t even see until he was out. Root was bad enough it came out readily.

So, having lost 3 teeth last time, and 4 this time… out of 30 adult teeth, he’s down 7, and he’s probably going to lose more of the 23 left as he gets older.

I’m not that worried, for his sake. Cats didn’t really evolve to chew and grind their food the way herbivores do. They’re meant to gulp it in chunks. Watch your cat eat some time. A lot of the time, even kibble goes down whole! My Nermal lost a total of 11 by the time he crossed the Bridge, including all 4 canines at once due to an infection, and it didn’t stop him (except when he tried to hold a little calico girl-kitty who was in heat – he was fixed but wanted to, er, go through the motions – she wouldn’t stay still ’cause he couldn’t get a grip on her scruff; who ever thought of tooth removal affecting sex life?). I’m intensely worried about paying for all this, because he’s one of my kids and I can’t let him hurt without doing all I can, but holy crap, dental work costs a LOT for cats.

And we still need to get enough together to get Cory’s teeth cleaned before it becomes anything worse. Calicivirus means he’s vulnerable to issues with his mouth and somehow we have to try to stay on top of that (on top? realistically, I’ll be happy if we can more or less keep up! but gotta try!!!). Once that’s taken care of, Freya needs her teeth cleaned. I’m terrified of what’s going to happen if we have an emergency situation come up – again, because Angel’s injury and illness in April wiped out what I had been saving up to get Cory’s teeth cleaned. Cats, if you do it right, are a seriously expensive obsession. We have a bit more available, thanks to my mom and my dad donating some and to my being rather ruthless with the household budget (new clothes? who needs ’em?), but not enough yet for Cory.

Well, there’s a nest made for Trick in his fave box under the lamp in Jackie’s room, where he can have quiet, instead of my room which tends to be Kitty Central with competition over the 6 (SIX) dedicated and 2 intermittent kitty sleepy spots available. It’s the smallest room, and it’s cluttered, and yet… 6 spots for 3 cats on multiple levels and they still argue over them. ALL of them. :roll:

And, 2 and a half hours from now, I’ll be at the vet picking up my poor Trick-a-monster!

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