I’ve been a cat owner for around 20 years, and although I have learned a lot about these wonderful creatures, every day, I learn something new.

My cats are now all over 10 years old (somewhere between 56 and 76 in human years).  If they were humans, they would probably be full of aches and pains, but not my girls.  They still act like youngsters.  I admire them for that.  

We (they) have twice yearly check ups with the vet. I’m happy with that because if there is something wrong, I want to know early, to be able to deal with it early.  I couldn’t stop my parents from suffering in their late life.  I can do something for my girls.  

Oceana and Telesto had check ups at the end of September.  

“How long has that tooth been like that?” said the vet, looking at Oceana’s damaged canine.

This young woman clearly doesn’t realise that, while they may permit a vet to open their mouths, most cats would really rather not just bite, but amputate, the hand that feeds them rather than allow any intrusion into their mouths.  I am very fond of my fingers, and have absolutely no intention of having them removed by an angry cat.  I digress.

I was a bit like a rabbit in the headlights, but as soon as I got a grip of myself, I realised the tooth wasn’t like that when we had the last check up, so it was within the last six months.  The thing about cats is that most of them have a very high pain tolerance.  One of my previous vets told me a story of a cat who had been walking around on a broken leg.  Imagine a human doing that?  My little Oceana had shown no sign of being in any pain.  

“Er, I think it’s quite recent,” said I to the vet.

“She will need surgery to remove it.  And there is one at the back that looks as though it needs to come out too.  We need to do blood tests, of course, to see whether she can withstand the anaesthetic.”

“Right. Yes.  Of course.  Do whatever is necessary.”

My hesitation stemmed from fear.  Oceana is one of the older ones, now 15, so around 76 in human years.  

They took the blood for the test and promised to ring me on the following Monday.  The blood tests came back absolutely fine.  I doubt many humans of that age could say the same thing, which speaks volumes about what we put into our bodies.   

Then it was Telesto’s turn for a check up.  She too had dental problems and needs surgery.  Her blood tests were also perfect, and for both of them, I had the full range done, not just the basics.  If there is a problem, I want to know asap.   It transpires that poor little Telesto may lose all her teeth, but I won’t know until later today, she has had her surgery.

When cats have teeth removed, they have to go under general anaesthetic.  It makes sense, can you imagine trying to remove a tooth if they weren’t ‘out.’  My vet uses local as well, to reduce the amount of general, which brings another set of risks, although he assured me that the many risks he told me about were fewer than the risk of leaving the girls as they were.  Something about bone growing into the teeth, which sounded very unpleasant. 

Oceana recovered fairly quickly and is doing well.  Telesto has her surgery today.  I took Oceana for her second check just over a week ago.  Laurence, the regular vet, was very happy.  I’m not going to lie, she was very grumpy for a couple of days after her surgery.  I was not on her Christmas card list for a while, although she loves me again now.

“Cats don’t let you open their mouths if they are in pain,” Laurence said.  

They don’t let me open their mouths at all, I thought.  But I guess vets have far more power, although the one that saw Telesto today had a bit of a problem with her.  

No doubt she will come home and be grumpy, and then, when she realises I did it all for her own good, she will love me again too.

© Susan Shirley 2019


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