Anesthesia is a staple of veterinary medicine that is invaluable during surgical treatment. After all, it would be nearly impossible to restrain a conscious cat during an operation. Lingering effects from anesthesia are normal, but watch your kitty during the days following surgery to make sure he's recovering properly.
If your pet's been shivering since you brought him home, he might just be a little cold. Some of the chemicals used in veterinary anesthetics disrupt the temperature control center of your cat's brain temporarily, according to Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Anesthesia also dilates your kitty's blood vessels, which allows heat to escape her body at a faster rate. Turn the heat up a few degrees and provide your pet with a soft, warm place to sleep for the next few days.
Fear and Stress
For your cat, the entire surgery experience is roughly equivalent to an alien abduction. If your cat is shaking, trembling or swaying when you get him home, he may just be stressed out and confused. When your kitty first wakes up from anesthesia, he is completely delirious and unaware of what's happening. It'll take at least a few hours for him to get back to normal. Your kitty may not even recognize you or his home at first, so let him relax in an enclosed space for the next 12 to 24 hours until he's back on his feet.
If your cat is shaking violently or his trembling hasn't stopped within 48 hours of the surgery, call your vet and ask him about it. Contact your vet immediately if your pet starts throwing up or if his incision leaks blood. All the side effects of anesthesia, including dizziness, shaking and lethargy, should vanish within a few days. Your cat may refuse food when you first bring him home, but he should be eating and drinking again by the next evening. There's a small chance that your kitty will have an adverse reaction in the weeks following anesthesia, so make sure you report any unusual symptoms to your vet.
Risks of Anesthesia
Anesthesia is a great medical tool for veterinarians, but it is not risk-free. About 1 in 100,000 animals have a negative reaction to anesthetic chemicals, so the chances of your cat having a problem are pretty low, according to Newport Harbor Animal Hospital. You may be asked to sign an anesthetic consent form by your vet clinic though, just in case a problem arises. Your vet may conduct a blood test to screen for a hidden health problem or allergy that wouldn't mingle with the anesthesia. Anesthesia is never 100 percent safe, but it's the only way to keep your kitty still during a delicate operation.
- University of Minnesota Research Animal Resources: Guidelines for the Use of Anesthetics, Analgesics and Tranquilizers in Laboratory Animals
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Your Pet is Going to be Anesthetized...
- Newport Harbor Animal Hospital: Is Anesthesia Safe for My Cat?
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.