When you work at a cat hotel, you hear a lot of stories about, well, cats. Entertaining anecdotes are a favorite at Club Cat. Fortunately, much like viral cat videos, there is no shortage of them.
We also hear some not so entertaining stories. Like when our customers’ kitties undergo surgery. Those are not at all entertaining.
My cat’s teeth story
I wasn’t always proactive about my cats’ dental health. In late 2019, several months after I opened Club Cat, a tenant in our business complex who specializes in veterinary dental health, Dr. Robert Furman, came and toured our cat hotel. We interviewed him shortly after and he provided a wealth of information to us that we shared in a Club Cat blog post. Mainly, Dr. Furman helped me see the importance of a pet’s dental health in preventing many diseases.
Because I didn’t understand how important my cat’s dental health is early on, I did not take early action with my oldest cat’s teeth. Because of this, Maximus Decimus Meridius (Maximus for short) suffers from feline tooth resorption. Now that he’s very senior, the risks of surgery may outweigh the benefits I was told by some veterinarians.
One day, several months ago, the guilt was getting to me. I decided to get another medical opinion. That same day, before I called to make an appointment, I learned that one of our regular customers whose cat is roughly the same age as Maximus had recently gone through surgery to extract most of kitty’s teeth. It did not go well, my customer lamented, and she regretted having done it. Her sweet kitty had all kinds of serious post-surgery issues. This really freaked me out. What if the same thing happened to Maximus? On the one hand, I want to take away all my cat’s pain. On the other hand, I don’t want to create more pain or worse, potentially lose him. If only I had paid more attention to his dental health when he was younger this could likely all have been avoided.
Teeth surgery is no fun
They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again. So I decided to break the cycle. I recently took my younger cat, Wilbur, and my 100-pound dog Blue in for a dental assessment. It turns out that Wilbur had a few teeth that needed to be extracted and some evidence of resorption that needed immediate attention. Fortunately, Blue only had some plaque so they put him on a preventative care plan. Lucky dog.
The night before the surgery, Wilbur and I engaged in our usual nightly cuddle fest. This usually happens on my bed, without my husband’s knowledge (shhhhh don’t tell him, he’s crazy allergic to cats). See, Wilbur is an orange cat. Meaning: Squirrely. Spicy. Curious. Active. Flirtatious. Demanding. Basically, there is never a dull moment with Wilbur.
I was dreading the next morning when he’d be meowing his heart out for breakfast. A meal I wouldn’t be able to give him.
What’s worse, he’d soon be at the pet hospital with scary sounds and foreign smells. How could I somehow let him know that I was saving him from a lot of future pain and suffering? Sadly, I couldn’t.
During his surgery, I was a hot mess. I was working at Club Cat to distract myself but when you work with cats to forget about thinking about your own cat who you’re fretting about it kind of doesn’t work. It’s like going to a wedding to forget about your recent divorce. Thankfully the amazing team at Tustin Legacy Animal Hospital (TLAH) was in constant communication with me via text. Which was a huge relief.
In the end, Wilbur’s surgery resulted in four teeth extractions. And after a few days of being hopped up on Gabapentin to relieve the post-surgical pain, he was back to his anxious self.
I’m still not sure if I will go ahead with surgery for Maximus due to his advanced age. But I’ve decided to make an appointment with the doctors at TLAH for an assessment. It couldn’t hurt, right?
Don’t neglect your cat’s teeth. Just don’t.
Now here’s the unsolicited advice (I’ve got a P.h.D. in nagging according to my kiddos): if you have a non-senior cat, I highly recommend that you don’t make the same mistakes that I did with Maximus. Get them on a preventative dental plan before it’s too late. You might think you cannot afford to do this but consider this: you will be faced with much higher pet care bills in the future when kitty is diagnosed with something as a result of tooth disease. Plus, there are pet insurance options that cover dental care.
Most importantly, pay attention to the signs your cat suffers from dental disease because cats are masters of deception when it comes to hiding pain. Meaning, you won’t know until it’s too late.