Reason for Nomination: Age is no Barrier!
With the advantage of new technologies, medications, owner dedication and diets our pets are living longer. The average age for a well loved cat is currently around 15-17years. Given this fact, it will come as no surprise that some cats are living for up to 20years. I would like to introduce you to Kia, a domestic short haired golden oldie, who has been well loved and cared for by her human family. Kia turned 22years old on her last birthday in March and continues to surprise us with her feisty nature and resilience.
Our golden girl has coped well and continues on management for her arthritis, ear disease and chronic kidney disease which were diagnosed over 7 years ago! At the age of 13 she had both thyroid glands removed due to hyperthyroidism, a common disease in older cats. She also suffered with a mast cell tumour on her head which was removed without recurrence. Kia has had five dental treatments throughout her lifespan. As our patients are living longer tartar will continue to build up. The tartar begins to press on the gums causing recession and inflammation which leads to infection and tooth decay. This is why we advocate preventative dental treatment for our patients.
The most recent of Kia’s dental treatments was just nine months ago, at the age of 21! Kia was having issues with her teeth; smelly breath and rubbing her jaw. This had been getting gradually worse. The decision to undergo treatment which involves a general anaesthesia was not an easy one, however we had noticed the tartar building up over the previous few years and now it was causing her discomfort so we had to act.
With any anaesthetic it is always a worrying time for owners, but the question for Kia was ‘is her age a barrier to treatment?’ Would the anaesthetic be too much for her heart? Would the medications be too much for her liver and kidneys to metabolise? Do the benefits outweigh the risks of the procedure? These are questions we face on a daily basis for many of our patients. To make the appropriate decision, we considered Kia’s latest blood results – not much change in her kidney values for the last year and no other abnormalities were present. We are lucky enough to have state of the art monitoring equipment at our practice which can monitor all the vital signs we need during an anaesthetic to ensure our patients are stable. This allows us to address any variation rapidly and make things as safe for our patients as possible. The risk and benefits were discussed with Kia’s 2 legged family members and it was decided to go ahead with her treatment.
A specific pre medication and anaesthetic protocol was chosen to suit Kia. Fluid therapy was instigated to maintain circulation and kidney perfusion, with extra medication on hand in case of a reduced blood pressure. Blood glucose monitoring throughout the anaesthetic helped us to make Kia as stable as possible and give her all the energy she needed for recovery. Heat matts and warming devices were used (such as bubble wrap on her feet!) to keep her as cosy as possible. The anaesthetic was short and light and only one tooth needed removing which was good news for Kia. She was very stable under the anaesthetic with the addition of a little extra glucose and medication to maintain her blood pressure and her recovery was good. It did take her a week or so of TLC and dedication from her owners to nurse her back to her normal self, but 9 months later and she is still going strong. She enjoys a rub on her jaw now which she didn’t before due to the discomfort of the affected tooth. Her blood results show her kidney values remain stable. So if Kia could talk, I’m sure to anyone that says ‘she’s too old for anaesthetic’ or asks, ‘Is age a barrier’ she would say ‘definitely not’. We must look beyond the date of their birth and make a clinical decision based on the health of the patient, not their age.