Ruby Goes to the Dentist – Part Three: Our Day at Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery

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This is the third installment of our four-part series “Ruby Goes to the Dentist,” in which I share my recent experience with Ruby. I’m hoping that it will not only put your mind at ease if you’re faced with a cat who has to have a dental procedure, but that it will also help you ensure that your cat gets the optimal level of care before, during and after her dental work.

If you’ve missed the first part in this series, please read Ruby Goes to the Dentist – Part One: Diagnosis, and Choosing a Veterinary Dentist

If you’ve missed the second part in this series, please read Ruby Goes to the Dentist – Part Two: Preparation

Leaving for the dental clinic

The dreaded day had arrived. I will admit that no matter how much I tried to not feel anxious the day and night before, none of my tried and true techniques for reducing anxiety – meditation, deep breathing, herbal remedies, flower essences – quite did the trick. I did my best to stay as calm as I could.

Ruby was not thrilled that she didn’t get breakfast, but after some fussing, both girls settled into their normal morning routine of napping while I worked for an hour or two, then had breakfast.

Finally, it was time. I needed to put Ruby in the carrier. I briefly closed Allegra into my bedroom. I did not want her to see me put Ruby in the carrier. I was also worried that Ruby might be rather vocal about her displeasure, and I did not want to risk stressing Allegra out wondering what was going on. Thankfully, my “surprise” plan worked: I was able to put Ruby in the carrier without any fuss. However, once she realized that she was trapped, she was not happy. I had never heard sounds like that come out of my little girl!

I put the carrier in the car, and quickly went back into the house to open my bedroom door. Allegra gave me a curious look, but had already started to settle on my bed for her morning nap.

It’s a 25 minute drive from our house to the dental clinic, and for the first half of it, Ruby cried and cried. I played Through a Cat’s Ear: Music for Calming for her in the car. These recordings, re-orchestrated especially for animals to provide comfort and reduce anxiety, feature soft piano and string versions of classical pieces. The music helped relax me a little, and eventually, Ruby calmed down, too.

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Exam with Dr. Chamberlain

Once we got to the clinic, the receptionist ushered us directly into an exam room, so Ruby wouldn’t be exposed to other animals in the waiting room. I opened the carrier while we were waiting for Dr. Chamberlain. Ruby cautiously peeked out, then climbed on my lap. A few minutes later, Dr. Chamberlain entered the room. Ruby practically flew back into her carrier! I gently lifted her out again, and Dr. Chamberlain examined her mouth, and listened to her heart. He advised me that just on visual exam, he could see several teeth that most likely would need to be extracted. I had expected some extractions, so this did not come as a surprise. Of course, the full extent of what would need to be done wouldn’t be apparent until Ruby was under anesthesia and x-rays of her mouth had been taken.

Waiting and worrying

Ruby would be the second procedure of the day. Thankfully, the clinic had an empty room available where I could sit with her until it was time to induce anesthesia. Ruby sat quietly in her carrier, but I could tell how stressed she was. Every time there was a noise outside the door, she tensed up.

In the past, I was always able to observe my cats during dental procedures, since they were either done at a clinic I worked at, or by a veterinarian who was a friend. While I could have asked, and probably would have been approved, to watch Ruby’s surgery, as with Allegra’s procedure, something told me that it would better for all of us if I was just going to be the worried mom in the waiting room.

After a couple of hours, it was time. Jenn, Dr. Chamberlain’s technician, came out into the waiting room with an update. The x-rays showed that Ruby had multiple resorptive lesions. There was also a lot of damage to other teeth below the gum line, something that hadn’t been evident on a visual exam. Dr. Chamberlain recommended extracting all of Ruby’s teeth.

I had expected multiple extractions, but this came as a shock. Since I completely trust Dr. Chamberlain’s recommendations, I agreed, but it took me a while to wrap my mind around this. Buckley had had all her teeth extracted to treat her severe stomatitis, so I had experience with this. I knew that cats do just fine without teeth, but the thought of your cat having to go through this is pretty brutal even when you know what to expect.

Visual dental exams are not enough to assess dental problems

Unfortunately, this also perfectly illustrates why visual dental exams are not always good enough. Sometimes, as was the case with Ruby, the real damage occurs underneath the gum line. For this reason, I can’t stress enough just how important it is that the practice you choose to have your cat’s dental work done at not only has dental x-ray capabilities, but that the veterinarians also have extensive experience interpreting dental x-rays.

Jenn advised me that it would be at least four or five hours before Ruby could go home. I was worried about Allegra being at home by herself for that long, so rather than sitting in the waiting room at the clinic, I went home.

I shouldn’t have worried. Allegra apparently couldn’t have cared less that her sister wasn’t there! She was totally relaxed and followed her usual routines.

Ruby was under anesthesia for three hours. About an hour after they finished, Lauren, another of Dr. Chamberlain’s technicians, gave me discharge instructions for Ruby. Then she brought a groggy looking Ruby back to me. It was finally time to take my baby home.

Coming Monday: Ruby Goes to the Dentist – Part Four:
Returning Home

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Welcome to the Conscious Cat

The Conscious Cat is an award winning website published by writer and cat expert Ingrid King, author of Buckley's Story and Purrs of Wisdom. Here at The Conscious Cat, we're passionate about cats. Our mission is to educate cat guardians so that every cat, and every cat's human, can have a happy, healthy life together.

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On this site, you will find expert advice from a seasoned cat consultant. The Conscious Cat features articles on cat health, cat nutrition, cat behavior, cat lifestyle, pet loss, and, of course, pictures of cats. We'll bring you product and book reviews, as well as news from around the cat world.

We'll also share Purrs of Wisdom: lessons in conscious living, inspired by the cats who share our lives. Other features include our Mews and Nips; fascinating feline stories from around the globe, and Allegra's World and Ruby's Reflections; written from the perspective of Ingrid's two feline companions. After all, who better than a cat to teach us a thing or two about how to live a joyful life!

And let's not forget, we have a soft spot for tortoiseshell cats and their unique personalities, also known as "tortitude."

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Giveaway: Berkley Bestiary Collection Prize Pack from Galison

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This giveaway is sponsored by Galison*

Galison was founded in 1979 to work with museums to make artist imagery widely available in the form of well-designed paper products. Galison first published calendars and a few books before focusing primarily on fine art stationery, boxed notecards, greeting cards, personalized Christmas cards (for individuals and businesses), journals, and other gift products for writers. Galison features a line of cat-inspired products, which includes notebooks, greeting cards, and even a 1,000 piece Cool Cats Puzzle. Continue reading…

Ruby Goes to the Dentist – Part Two: Preparation

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This is the second installment of our four-part series “Ruby Goes to the Dentist,” in which I share my recent experience with Ruby in hopes that it will not only put your mind at ease if you’re faced with a cat who has to have a dental procedure, but that it will also help you ensure that your cat gets the optimal level of care before, during and after her dental work.

If you’ve missed the first part in this series, please read Ruby Goes to the Dentist – Part One: Diagnosis, and Choosing a Veterinary Dentist Continue reading…

Review: Nature’s Cat Litter Mat

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This post is sponsored by Nature’s Cat Litter Mats

Litter mats can be a great way to reduce one of the messiest aspects of sharing life with a cat. They can help reduce tracking, and keep any accidental spills contained. The Nature’s Cat Litter Mat does both beautifully.

Generously sized, these thick, heavy duty mats come in rectangular and half moon shapes, and in two colors. They are made from commercial grade vinyl that will not slide on your floor and will not crack or rip with normal use. The mats are waterproof and BPA free. Continue reading…

Ruby Goes to the Dentist – Part One: Diagnosis and Choosing a Veterinary Dentist

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Finding out that your cat needs dental work provokes anxiety in most cat guardians, and I’m not immune to those fears. Despite my years of working in veterinary clinics, and having been through many dental procedures with the cats that came before Allegra and Ruby, there’s not much that makes me feel as anxious as the thought of one of my babies having to undergo anesthesia. A year and a  half ago, I shared my experience about Allegra’s dental procedure in a four part series. Last month, it was Ruby’s turn. Continue reading…

Sunday Purrs of Wisdom: Say No to Drama

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I like a good drama as much as the next person. Intrigue, passion, mystery – what’s not to like? But when I say I like drama, I’m talking about fiction, not real life. When it comes to real life drama, I don’t want any part of it.

There’s an awful lot of drama everywhere you look these days. It’s probably disproportionately represented in online communities – for some, interacting with others online seems to remove a “courtesy filter” that sometimes stops drama from happening in “real life.” Continue reading…

Mews and Nips: Boston Police Cat Gets Fancy New Condo

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The cutest member of the Boston police department moved into fancy new digs earlier this week. Officers of the department’s Special Weapons and Tactics unit built a deluxe condo for SWAT to protect her from the cold. SWAT was rescued in 2013. She was spayed, vaccinated and microchipped, but no matter what they tried, she couldn’t be convinced to be an indoor cat. The new condo features a “studio interior layout,” as well as a deck and glass doors with “panoramic city views.” Visit the Huffington Post for the full story and more photos.

If you missed any of the stories featured on the Conscious Cat this week, here’s a recap: Continue reading…

Review: Cats of The Times: Crazy Cat Articles from The New York Times

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The cover of this book caught my eye when I saw it scroll past my Facebook newsfeed a few days ago, and I had to investigate – and I sure am glad I did. This collection of cat tales and photographs from the Times’ archives, dating back to 1872, is a treasure for cat lovers.

With headlines like “Fifty Cats Fight Firemen To Reach Burning Fish,” “Psychologist Finds Cats Are Anarchists,” and “Curious Black Cat Disrupts Opera; Takes Stage in Tragic Moment,” this book, which also features plenty of wonderful photos, is an utter delight. Continue reading…

Giveaway: Morrocco Method 5 Elements Volcanic Dry Powder Cat Shampoo Prize Pack

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Cats are fastidious groomers, and can usually take care of keeping themselves clean without human intervention. Their sandpaper tongue is perfectly equipped to take care of their cleaning and grooming needs. But every once in a while, you may find yourself in a situation where your cat needs a bath: perhaps she got into something sticky, dirty or smelly, or worse, into something that would harm her if she licked herself clean. If you have to bathe your cats, make sure you use shampoos and other grooming products made for cats. Human products are much too harsh for sensitive feline skins. Continue reading…

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