Preanesthetic Testing

It’s a little more money, but also peace of mind

While anesthetic protocols are much safer now than even just 20 years ago, it makes sense to do some preanesthetic testing if your cat is scheduled for surgery, especially if she has a chronic problem or is an older cat.

The basic areas of testing generally recommended are:

  • Blood chemistries to evaluate your pet’s liver and kidneys and rule out various metabolic conditions
  • A complete blood count (CBC) to look for infection or anemia
  • A urinalysis to help evaluate kidney function and rule out urinary tract infections.
  • The information obtained from these tests may guide your veterinarian in choosing which anesthetic drugs are safest for your cat.

Minimal testing is usually recommended for young, healthy cats scheduled for minor procedures. These tests commonly include a packed cell volume (PCV: percentage of the volume of blood occupied by red blood cells), total protein, blood urea nitrogen (BUN: a waste product normally removed form the blood by the kidneys), and blood glucose. However, cats with chronic health conditions, older cats, and cats facing an extensive surgery or dentistry may benefit from a full screening ahead of time.

Senior cats and cats with abnormalities on initial screening may need some extra tests. An echocardiogram or radiographs may be suggested for cats suspected of having heart disease or respiratory problems, for example.

Abnormal findings don’t necessarily mean your cat must skip surgery, especially if the surgery is for a critical condition. The findings are a heads up to your veterinarian that some adjustments to the procedure or post-operative care may be needed. Your cat may require special intravenous fluids, different pain medications, or have a blood donor waiting in the wings in case there is a problem. It’s much better to know ahead of time than to be caught with an emergency in the middle of a procedure.