Q: We just rescued a cat that I think we will be naming Gloria, still a source of family discussion. She is really sweet but was never spayed and we believe that she is 1 ½ years old. I am very nervous about sedating her and having her spayed. I know it is the right thing to do but I’m so worried. Is there anything I can do to make it easier on her and easier on me?
A: Yes, there are several things that I can share with you that will make your spay day a better experience for you and for Gloria — I love that name! I vote to keep it.
The first thing to do is to get ready the night before her procedure. Put her carrier, with her name on it in a visible location and keep it open so she won’t be afraid when she sees it and hides. Place some catnip in there and a fluffy bed.
If hiding is a real concern for you then confine her the night before in a bathroom with her carrier, litter box and water. This way in the morning you will have her and the carrier in one space and this should make placing her in her carrier a little easier.
It is critical that you pick up all her food at midnight the night before. If there is any food in her stomach when your veterinarian sedates her for the procedure she very well could vomit. Vomiting could happen at any point before, during or after her spay.
The problem with vomiting in an anesthetized animal is that they are at risk for aspiration and the subsequent pneumonia that will follow. No one wants that complication so please remember — no food but water is fine.
Another point to make your visit better is to be on time. Your veterinarian may be running late but that’s OK. You are available for your pre-surgical consult as soon as they can get you in. Know the date and time of your appointment and how long with traffic that it will take to get to your veterinarian. If you are anxious and get lost and are late it helps no one.
Also, if you will be going into work that day, which is fine to do, please tell them the day before that you will be late due to your pet’s surgical appointment. Most employers should be quite understanding. If not, you can always ask for a note.
Come prepared with written questions. I love lists. Trust me we received lots of lists during the worst COVID months when owners were curbside. Your veterinarian will go through each question with you and explain everything you are worried about. Lists are especially good if someone else will be bringing her to the veterinarian for you.
Speaking of writing things down, please ask for a written estimate and ask to go over it with your veterinarian or with the technician. We humans sometimes have no idea of the cost of surgery and the associated aspects of a spay such as anesthesia, IV fluids, pain medicines, antibiotics, vaccinations, microchipping and flea and tick medicines. Whew, it can add up.
Please know your budget and do as much as you can but don’t over extend yourself at your visit. You can always do vaccines and get medications at subsequent visits.
Then before you leave Gloria, ask for a pick up time so you know when to be back for her. They should go over everything either at discharge or after her spay with you so you know how to care for her in the following days. Usually you should get a discharge paper with her instructions written down too.
Lastly, keep the lines of communication open. Make sure your veterinarian knows that you are nervous and ask for updates from them. Double check to be sure they have all of your updated contact information — cell, work and home numbers as well as a current email address. Hopefully you will get a picture of a sleepy pet or a quick text at some point during the day. These really do go a long way in helping you through your stressful day.
Also, make sure that it is OK for you to call at some point in the day just to check in with Gloria. Even if your veterinarian cannot hop on the phone, a technician’s voice will be just as reassuring for you.
So there you have it — kudos to you for rescuing a cat, getting her spayed and being a good prepared pet owner. You and Gloria will be just fine.