Monday, March 30, 2015

The straight dope on cat dentals: How long recovery really takes

Troy the cat recovering from a dental
When old cats like Troy have dental procedures, they often have extractions. Brittle, addled kitty teeth are very difficult to repair, and they can cause these dudes a lot of pain. Rather than adding to that pain with fillings and root canals and such, vets just pull the broken bits out. It's a quicker surgical procedure, and most cats adjust to life without a full set of choppers.

But the recovery process can be a touch long.

And people aren't very honest about that.

When I was doing a little research on cat dentals, I saw a lot of articles like this one that suggest that old cats can bounce right back and eat hard food just hours after a dental with extractions.

That wasn't my experience.

The first day after Troy's dental, he was groggy and tired. The pain medication kept him comfortable, but he wasn't awake and aware enough to do anything close to noshing. And affection? Forget it. This guy wanted to be left alone.

By day three, Troy would eat just a little (as long as I manipulated the hell out of his meals). But, he often needed pain medications after his meals. Without that dash of drugs, he thrashed his tail and pawed at his mouth.

And by day four, he didn't want to eat much at all. He seemed a little afraid of the food dish, worried about whether or not his meals would cause him pain.

So back to the drawing board I went, softening his food yet more, and serving it in new bowls in new spots in the house, only after he'd been provided with pain meds.

Now, he's eating about 75 percent of what I'd consider ideal. And he needs a lot less pain medication. But he's still a touch reclusive and a little twitchy.

So my guess is that we're looking at a week of recovery.

Now, old cats with bad teeth are in a lot of pain, and there's no doubt that providing them with dentals is the right thing to do. They need help, and they should get it.

But it's important to note that they can heal very slowly. Plan on weeks, not hours.

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