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Cat Died Following Neuter Surgery

Dear Dr. Margaret:

My cat, Thomas, was 9 months old when I took him to the veterinarian to have him neutered on a Tuesday. He died on Thursday. I had a histopathology and necropsy performed; cause of death was pulmonary edema.

My cat was healthy and fine until he had the surgery. I felt something was wrong when I picked him up Tuesday evening because he was drooling and sneezed some and his eyes appeared to be glassed over and seemed to be protruding out of the socket a little. My veterinarian said this was from the anesthesia. I think the anesthesia killed my cat. Is there any documentation I can read on feline reaction to anesthesia?

Thanks, Angela Jones, via the Internet

Dear Angela: First let me convey my sympathy at the loss of Thomas. I can imagine how hard this experience has been for you.

Regretfully, even the most "routine elective" procedures do carry with them an inherent risk. The single biggest risk factor is the anesthesia required for the surgery.

There are many different anesthetic drugs used in veterinary medicine to perform elective procedures on cats. None of them are without potential side effects. All anesthetics are drugs. Drugs in pets, as well as people, can often be rejected by the body. They may create "allergic" type reactions ranging from mild rashes and hives to full-blown respiratory distress (such as fluid in the lungs ... pulmonary edema) and instant death.

To best research the side effects of an anesthetic, you must find out which drug or drug combination was used on Thomas. Once you have this information, you should contact the manufacturer of the drug(s) and request information regarding usage's and possible side effects. You should also request information regarding reported fatalities with this drug(s) usage. Your veterinarian should be able to help you obtain this information.

Another possible consideration is that Thomas was afflicted with a "congenital defect" (a defect present since birth). Some congenital defects can effect the body's ability to handle medication and anesthesia. You may want to ask your veterinarian if the necropsy or histopathology revealed any evidence of defects.

Best of luck in your search of information and closure. You must not forget that none of this was your fault and that you had Thomas' very best interest at heart when you scheduled his surgery.

Sincerely, Dr. M.C.Lane