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Unread 05-06-2016   #1 (permalink)
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Exclamation Heart Murmur and Oral Surgery

My geriatric cat Scooter and I have a serious dilemma, and it mostly involves her teeth. Sweet little Scoots has been my best friend for almost 15 years now. About August of last year I finally moved into a pet-friendly apartment, so I was able to have her come live with me. My mom has been taking care of her since I moved out, and she’s the kind of individual that doesn't really believe in veterinary care. I don’t blame her because Scooter, although her back legs are misshapen, has always been healthy.

A couple days after moving her in, I took her to the vet for a check-up since her face looked swollen and found out she has a heart murmur and a serious mouth infection, the latter being common in older cats. The vet mentioned surgery, but made it sound like some antibiotics would fix the problem. Once the prescription was used up she seemed fine: friendlier, healthier, eating fine, swelling gone and all that.

I moved again, and took her to a different vet for a follow-up. This time the doctor seemed incredibly concerned and mentioned that at this point her mouth would only get worse, antibiotics alone can’t solve the problem, and since Scooter has a heart murmur she’s at serious risk of dying during surgery. I’m sure the doc had to stress this for liability reasons, but it scared the bejeezus out of me. I just noticed today that a different part of her face is swollen and I’m seriously panicking.

So right now I’m stuck between paying over $1000 for a surgery that might kill my cat, letting her suffer and die, or putting her down. No vet insurance covers pre-existing conditions, but my mom has offered to help me pay for medical care. I was considering asking the vet to give me a painkiller and antibiotic prescription so at least Scooter won't be in pain and can function. I have no idea what to do.

tl,dr: Has anyone else’s cat gotten oral surgery with a heart murmur? What can I do to make the remainder of Scooter’s life most comfortable? I really need some advice. Thank you!
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Unread 05-06-2016   #2 (permalink)
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I think $1000 is way over the top for any dental surgery on a senior cat. Yes, my senior cat who not only had kidney disease and hyperthyroid, also had a grade 3 heart murmur and one stroke, at 17 had dental work with two extractions.

I had nothing to lose with her. She was suffering, and the dental disease of course was making her heart and kidneys worse with every day. I took the risk, she did wonderfully and went on to enjoy 10 more months of good quality of life until a final stroke was her end.

I can understand your dilemma if you can't afford the dental work, but you can't let her suffer. If I wasn't able to give her the surgery, I would give her that final kindness, if it were my cat. There are worse things than a gentle death in the arms of the one you love most in the world. And the agony of a mouth that is so bad it is causing swelling is much worse.

It will be hard on you but you will know you did what is best for her.

I am sorry you are faced with this decision. I hope you can give her the chance at least of the surgery. If her heart can't take it she'll never know a thing about it, she'll just never wake up. If she does well, she will have a whole new lease on life again without all that suffering.

The vet should use sevoflurane anesthesia it is a gas anesthesia very safe, very fast acting, and they come out of it quickly. For pain meds she should be given buprenex (NO METACAM)

Clindamycin (antirobe) would be the best antibiotic for her.
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Last edited by acerlt; 05-06-2016 at 08:53 PM.
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Unread 05-12-2016   #3 (permalink)
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I'm sorry to hear about your kitty, but I'm glad she isn't hurting any longer. Thank you for the suggestion! Some people were saying on another forum that while vets tend to stress the risk of surgery, it rarely goes terribly wrong since many older cats need dental work to some degree. Right now my issue is being able to pay for it. How much was surgery for your kitty?

Also! Thank you so much for the recommendations. I've been trying to find out what the name of that gas anesthetic is! I'll keep all those in mind.
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It was a long time ago, back in August 2008. Hard to believe it's been so many years already. The blood work (which she had regularly anyway) was about $100. There were 2 extractions, pain meds, plus the dental cleaning, anesthesia (sevo is not cheap) and of course she was on IV fluids throughout the procedure.

Her file is put away in a box deep in the closet and I can't dig it out right now, but it was about $350, including all of the above.

Of course, I realize location has to be taken into consideration. The cost of living where I live is not all that high, relatively speaking. It's a rural area and the city is small. The same procedure probably would have cost $500 in the next city nearest to me, which is about 100 miles away.

Thank you for your kind words. I did miss her terribly for a long time. She was a fragile old lady who required a lot of care for the last 4 years of her life. Even though I kept my promise to set her free when she told me she'd had enough, my heart ached for many many months. I couldn't even look at pictures of her for at least 6 months. And she wasn't my first loss, I already had 4 kitty angels waiting for me when she left, and I've had another loss since then (in November 2011) I still miss her of course but time does soften the sharpness of the pain, and I can remember them with the joy they brought to my life more than the pain of losing them. Now.

It's been 6 days since you first wrote, how's Scooter doing now? Is she on pain meds?
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Unread 05-13-2016   #5 (permalink)
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Damn, pet medical expenses have seriously skyrocketed then. I could totally afford $350 without my mom's help or even without medical credit! Both of the vets I've taken her to have been in a more upscale, well-developed part of the city so I guess it makes sense they'd wanna charge me more. I'll have to call around.

I fully understand your heartache. What I'm afraid of most isn't the surgery, or the meds, or even the cost... it's the pain of losing Scooter. I've had her since I was a kid and raised her from birth. The thought of getting another cat makes my chest hurt because I really don't want to and I honestly don't know when I ever will. I love her so dearly, I just want her to be in my life as long as she's willing to have me.

Right now, her face is still a little swollen and I just made an appointment for this coming Monday to see if she needs antibiotics. I've been trying to help manage her pain with cannabis and that seems to be helping her a lot; her appetite and mood have improved, and she's been sleeping through the night. My mom suggested mixing up a salt water solution to dab around her mouth to help the swelling until I can get her to the vet.
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