Because of their unique physiology and small size, cats undergoing anesthesia are at a relatively greater risk of complications and death than many other species. Empirical evidence suggests that cats undergoing anesthesia have a higher mortality rate than dogs.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners has released the first feline-specific anesthesia guidelines, which appeared in the July 1 issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (J Feline Med Surg 2018;20:602-634).
Relying on a standardized, evidence-based approach for administering anesthesia is especially useful for ensuring safe and predictable perioperative responses and anesthetic recovery. The new guidelines address specific causes of problems and methods to avoid perioperative complications associated with monitoring, airway management, fluid therapy, and recovery.
Additionally, the guidelines discuss other important aspects of feline anesthesia, including perianesthetic anxiety and stress, perianesthetic monitoring by physical and electronic means, the role of underlying diseases such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the correct use of anesthesia equipment, and total injectable anesthesia.
Content has been organized under specific topics: use and care of equipment, pre-anesthetic assessment, co-morbidities, critical-patient emergencies, anesthesia and sedation, perioperative complications, and anesthetic recovery.
The guidelines were authored by an expert panel and include tables, charts, and algorithms designed to minimize risks associated with anesthesia, along with other useful information and resources for veterinary teams. A client brochure provides cat caregivers with digestible information that enables them to understand anesthesia, what to expect, and how to properly prepare their cat for a procedure and care for the cat during recovery.
The anesthesia guidelines and supplemental resources are available on the AAFP website.
Related JAVMA content:
Banfield gives new anesthesia guidance (March 15, 2018)
AAHA releases anesthesia guidelines (Jan. 15, 2012)