Rupert’s Dental Surgery Update

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It’s been a harrowing couple of days for everyone, though poor Rupert took the brunt of it.

I dropped him off Wednesday morning using the Rubbermaid feral cat container that we used on Moon in the beginning. It worked wonderfully well. This time. And since Rupert is FIV, they didn’t want to mix him in the surgical kennel with other cats, so they asked me if they could leave him in the container if I thought he’d be comfortable. The container is big, huge really, and I had filled it with towels to keep him dry since he tends to lose his bowels and bladder during car rides. Plus the container is opaque, so he can’t see anything and that makes cats more comfortable. It was probably better if they left him alone anyway.

They told me to call at 2 pm to check on him. This was very difficult. 6 hours is forever when you are scared to death, so I called at 1:30 and they told me he was handling the anesthesia well, but that his mouth was worse than they thought and he was still in surgery. I was to call back in an hour. Which I did. Because I was panicked to friggin shit.

It turns out that his FIV had nothing to do with this. He had severe tooth resorption, which required 6 extractions and a canine crown, which means the root was ok, so they just cut the canine off at the base. Apparently this is a very common thing with cats, according to Cornell University

Tooth resorption is a common condition, affecting an estimated 20 percent to 60 percent of all cats and close to three-quarters of those five years of age and older. The cause, says Jennifer Rawlinson, DVM, chief of the dentistry and oral surgery section at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, is unknown. “There are a few theories,” she says, “but no one is sure about what really stimulates this condition. Some researchers, for example, theorize that an excess of vitamin D in commercial cat food might be to blame, but other researchers don’t necessarily agree. So, for now, we don’t have an answer.”

tooth_resorption_diagram

Basically, the gum cells disintegrate the teeth. Very weird and very painful, which explains why Rupert drooled a lot and had stopped hunting when he was feral. We were his food source. If no one fed him, he would have starved from this.

Anyway, the vet forgot to order the trans-dermal pain med I asked for, so I won’t get it until today. In the mean time, they doped him up good before they sent him home with us at 7:00 pm Wednesday night. They also gave us a few syringes of trans-mucosal pain med, but I had to figure out how to get that into his mouth. He was in so much pain and frightened that he hid in his litterbox most of the night, and he absolutely did NOT want to be touched. By Thursday morning, it was going on 36 hours since he’d eaten anything, and the longer that goes on, the worse they feel until it spirals out of control, so getting him to eat was paramount.

So, at 9 am when the store opened, I went to get some of the old stand-by treatment that I used for twenty years with success when the ferrets were sick. Baby food and Nutrical. I tried canned cat food, but the consistency was not smooth enough to actually get any into his mouth. Baby food is super creamy. I don’t like the cornstarch, but since it’s only temporary, I’d have to deal with it. The Nutrical was for administering the pain meds and because baby food is not nutritionally complete for cats, most importantly in the Taurine department. I also needed something that would stick to the inside of his mouth and not be swallowed immediately since the meds are trans-mucosal, which means they have to contact the mucus membrane to be effective, and even though mixing it with anything reduces its efficacy, it seemed to work well enough to get him through. Something is better than nothing. Along with that, I hand fed him the baby food with my fingers every 1.5 hours, and I left a blob on a plate for him overnight in case he had the energy to eat on his own.

He did.

This morning, he was much brighter. When I brought in his plate of baby food, he got right out of bed and ate it all by himself. When I checked on him later, he was grooming himself. I gave him the last of the trans-mucosal pain med before I left for work. My husband is home today to make sure he eats every two hours or so, and I should have the trans-dermal pain medication by noon so I can apply it to his ear, which is much easier.

To say that I was frightened during the last two days is an understatement. He just got the life he deserves, and the thought of losing him during the surgery had my stomach and my soul tied in knots. But he’s out of danger now: no reaction to the anesthesia, no reaction to the antibiotic shot, no reaction to the pain meds, and his temperament was so much improved this morning, he’s almost himself again. He goes back in for a checkup on the 19th so they can check the sutures and how he is healing. He won’t like the car ride, but hopefully, all will be well and he can get back to his cushy warm life.

Total Bill $ 2,000 and change, which included the bloodwork, surgery, and pain meds.

Helping him live a happier pain-free life = Priceless.

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