Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My Kangs is now 20 years and seven months old. I have had her for almost 20 years. She had two other cat buddies most of her life: I put Tigger down 8 months ago at age 19 and 2 months, and Sedrick died in his sleep 5 years ago at age 16 years and 8 months. I spent a small fortune with surgery for Sedy and it bought him another year of life, but he was never quite the same. Plus he hated the meds I had to give him each day. Kangs has dental issues. Should I take her to vet and hope simple meds can help her dental issue? I was planning to just let her pass away when that time comes. She eats plenty each day, loves her brushing and is comfy. My human dentist has a cat and he said not much can be done now at her age. I think Kangs is slowly losing her vision and hearing. I am not rich, and feel the vet may be just wasted money at this stage. I feel maybe I should just let things be and keep her well fed and let nature take its course. She loves her hard treats and eats plenty of canned food and other stuff I give her, like butter, liver, chicken meat, etc. Any advice?
Thomas: Well, first, as a gentleman of a certain age myself, I must say you’ve been doing an excellent job taking care of your cat companions! Cats don’t live to be 20 without lots of good care from their humans. I’m 18 myself, and I hope I’m around for a good while longer!
Bella: Well, let’s begin at the beginning. We definitely think it would be a good idea to get Kangs to the vet for a checkup. You won’t know how she’s doing and if she can tolerate having dental treatment if you don’t know how healthy she is overall. The vet will run some blood work to test her kidney and liver function, and her thyroid.
Tara: We certainly understand your concerns about surgery after your experience with Sedrick. After Mama’s sad experience with surgery for our beloved Kissy, she had understandable hesitations about letting us go “under the knife” for dental procedures, too.
Thomas: We cats are really good at hiding our pain, too, so it’s possible Kangs could be in pain from dental disease even though she appears to be doing well right now. And don’t feel bad if it doesn’t look like she’s painful. When I had a dental and had eight teeth extracted, Mama felt like the worst kitty mom in the world because she didn’t realize how much pain my dental disease was causing me.
Bella: But Thomas doesn’t hold that against Mama at all. Like he said, we cats are so good at hiding our pain that even the best-trained cat parents don’t necessarily see it.
Tara: Given how old she is and that she seems to be doing quite well overall, she could possibly live another several years. What a dental can do is give Kangs a less painful life for as long as she has left.
Thomas: Now, it’s quite possible that the vet will say that she’s not a good candidate for surgery. If she has kidney disease or some other organ function problem, the procedure might be too high-risk to undertake.
Bella: But the issue is you’re not going to know that unless you talk to the vet and get the blood work done.
Tara: We’re sure there are other options if she’s not a good surgical candidate.
Thomas: That’s right. When I had my last dental and had four more teeth extracted, Doctor Jessica said that was probably going to be my last dental because of my kidney disease. But if I were to get a mouth infection, Mama would definitely ask the vet if antibiotics could help. They may not ease the pain, but they could control the infection.
Bella: And there are pain relievers vets can prescribe to ease any pain she does have. Our beloved Siouxsie was on buprenorphine for the last year of her life–not because of dental disease but because of severe arthritis.
Tara: That’s another thing Mama didn’t know until she asked the vet to do x-rays because her gait was odd. When Mama found out that Siouxsie had no cartilage left in her hip joints, she knew how painful that must be–and of course, once again, she felt like the worst cat mom in the world because she hadn’t done more serious pain control earlier.
Thomas: You humans get so neurotic about things. You have to realize as long as we’re safe and loved, we love you humans right back. You can’t possibly know everything–that’s why we’re here!
Bella: Anyway, Rob, we strongly suggest you talk to your vet about Kangs’ dental disease and ask what can be done to keep her healthy and pain-free.
Thomas: And honestly, human dentists, even if they have cats, don’t know everything about feline dentistry. Asking your dentist about your cat’s teeth is like Mama asking her human physician what to do about Thomas’s kidney disease.
Bella: Now, we’re not saying your dentist is bad, nor are we trying to make you feel bad about talking to your dentist about your cats. Mama always talks to her dental hygienist about us–when they don’t have all those tools in her mouth, anyway!
Tara: We totally understand about not being rich. Believe it or not, Mama doesn’t make lots of money, either, and it’s always a balancing act when we need care that’s not covered by our pet insurance.
Thomas: So, don’t be afraid, Rob. Take Kangs in to the vet, see what’s going on with her general health and what can be done to improve her dental health. We’re sure your vet will have some good suggestions! And definitely ask about antibiotics and pain control if she’s not a good surgical candidate!
Bella: What about you other readers? Have you had a really old cat with dental disease? What did your vet do for treatment? Please let us know in the comments!
God Bless You! Whatever you’re doing, feeling your babies seems to be working! I’ve never had an animal with over 10, til my feral Targee found me! She’s now around 12-13 & not doing well. I can’t pick her up, get loves, help her by taking to vet. So Just hug n Love on your baby, see if veteran can help w/dental comfort (like for baby’s teething), or ?? That’s a long time…You & Your Baby are Already Ahead! I’d keep doing what you are… & WOW, to have to euthanize your other babies (at great older ages), Must be Hard! You are my Hero, as far as I’m concerned. To hv all live long lives & loss of them, too!
My thoughts & Prayers are with you both… Keep Up the Great Love n Work, you’ll know when it’s time… in your gut n heart!
Late comment, hope still with you… I just had to let u know & comment on how I felt.
Wow, this stuff among Bella, Thomas and Tara is pretty trippy. As for the guy with the old cat. Just let the cat be. Its happy. You did all that stuff to the other cat and it lived another year. Was the cat really better off as a result? It only lived another year…I pretty much have the belief that I feed and bathe my animals and get their shots. Other than that they take care of themselves.
I feel everyone’s pain, we are pet mummy and daddy to Bruce. (Aka, the crown Duke of Lincoln / Mr Mahogony). He is 20 yes old, and has hypothyroidism, and also badly in need of a dental, he has dementia, and is going blind. We know the end isn’t far now, and we have to do the right thing for him. He has been the funder mental lynchpin to our lives. We are deverstated, that this week will be our last with our beloved boy. He has been a wonderful cat father, and grandfather to so many of our other rescued cats and kittens over the years. Are we doing the right thing, by letting him go peacefully, with dignity?
My cat is in the same position. Did your vet tell you that your cat cannot undergo the surgery to remove his teeth. My cat is 17, hyperthyroidism, and a bad tooth. He is barely eating and the vet said he was too old to have his tooth taken out. My friend has two cats the same age that were not doing well and they removed their bad teeth and now they are doing fine. I just don’t know what to do because he acts like it hurts when he eats so I believe that is why he is losing weight, yaks in green but when he tries to eat he keeps twitching his head. 😞
He acts hungry ^^^
I see that these posts are fairly new. I need help bad. My baby girl Lucy is 20 years old. She hates the vet and has had an amazing life. At 15 she had hyperthyroid treatment which bought her 5 more years.
She has lost 2 pounds in 7 months. About a month ago she stopped being able to get up on her cat stand. I thought it was arthritis and matted fur. So I took her to the vet and the vet said her teeth are horrible that she needs extractions etc. They want to put her under and do that work and say it will be about a week recovery. They gave her some meds for pain but that makes her worse. They couldn’t get her in for at least a month . I have to let her go if she needs to go. I have promised her we would not prolong her life because of my selfishness. Do I take the risk of having her go through all of that at the vet or do I let her go. She is not feeling well. I can tell. She is the love of my life so I just don’t know what to do. The surgery etc lists at about $2500. I can afford that if I do payments. But how much time am I buying and will I feel HORRIBLE if I do not do the dental work. The cat place I go to is not much into palliative. Thank you if you answer. I know it is OUR decision.
Yes, Imo, why wouldn’t you? If you have had teeth pain you know how much better she can feel after dental work. I advise you ask them to give her IV fluids to help protect her kidneys and make her feel better after surgery. But cats have been known to live much longer than 20 yrs old, as old as 30 something. Its always a risk to have surgery, but would you go to the dentist if you were the one with tooth pain?