Ruby Goes to the Dentist – Part Four: Returning Home and Recovery

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This is the last installment of our four-part series “Ruby Goes to the Dentist,” in which I share my recent experience with Allegra. 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

If you’ve missed the third part in this series, please read Ruby Goes to the Dentist – Part Three: Our Day at Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery

Re-entry

Ruby was quiet on the drive home. Once we got home, I put her into the Reiki room, which I had previously set up for her return with a litter box, bowl of water, and soft bedding. As soon as I opened the carrier, she went from being subdued to being the energizer bunny. She was barely steady on her legs, but she ran around the room, and before I could stop her, she jumped up on the Reiki table!! So much for the part of the discharge instructions that said “don’t let her go up and down stairs, she could fall.”

Once I could be sure that Ruby wouldn’t hurt herself, I left the Reiki room to go check on Allegra, who, of course, had heard us come home. I realized it would be challenging to go in and out of the Reiki room without either Ruby making a run for freedom, or Allegra trying to sneak into the room to check out what was going on behind closed doors. So, for a couple of hours, I juggled putting Allegra into my bedroom and entering and exiting the Reiki room to check on Ruby.

About an hour after we got home, I rubbed Ruby down with her own scent from the socks I had previously set aside. Then I rubbed down Allegra with a towel, and rubbed that towel all over Ruby, so that Allegra’s scent would merge with Ruby’s, creating a familiar “group scent.”

I offered Ruby a small amount of canned food, watered down even more than I usually do (she loves her meals soupy.) She gobbled it right up. I was amazed. If you or I had had all our teeth extracted, I doubt we’d feel like eating an hour after we got home.

After a couple of hours, I realized I couldn’t keep Ruby in the Reiki room any longer. She didn’t settle down at all, just sat and stared at the door. Every time I went in to check on her, she tried to make run through the door. I was worried that not enough time had passed, and that Allegra would react to her strange smell, but I took a deep breath and let her out of the room. Allegra’s ears went back a little when Ruby got close enough for her to smell her, but beyond that, she didn’t react. A couple of times throughout the evening, Allegra hissed at Ruby in passing, but that was all. I was starting to relax a little. I decided to just let this play out, but was ready to separate the girls again if necessary.

How to handle problems between cats following a vet visit

For information on conventional wisdom on how to handle problems between cats after a vet visit, please read read our previous article about non-recognition in cats and how to handle it. I’d also like to share articles by two of our blogging friends who experienced non-recognition with their cats and shared their experiences and tips for dealing with this distressing, but all to common problem.

How to Handle Aggression Between Cats Returning from the Vet by The Tiniest Tiger’s Joanne McGonagle

When Being a Brat is Normal: 7 Tips for Dealing with Displacement Aggression in Cats by Glogirly’s Debbie Glovatsky

Ruby’s recovery

Most cats will be subdued following anesthesia, and will sleep a lot more than normal. Some cats, however, have what is called a paradoxical reaction to some of the anesthetic drugs, which can result in excitement, increased movement, restlessness, and increased vocalization. These reactions are rare, but unfortunately, Ruby fell into that category. I don’t think she slept at all the night following her surgery. I checked on her throughout the night, and found her either pacing or crouched in a meatloaf position with her eyes wide open. I was able to get her to calm down for 15 or 20 minutes at a time a couple of times, before she was off pacing again. Thankfully, by morning, she settled down, and after eating a full breakfast without any issues, she finally fell asleep.

Ruby received pain medication and antibiotics for five days following her surgery. The day after surgery, she was a little more quiet than she normally is. Her face was swollen, which I was told to expect. However, she ate well, and readily took her medications. By the second day following the procedure, she was interested in what was going on around her again, looking out the windows, and even racing up and down the cat tree.

I marveled at how quickly she recovered from what had to have been a painful experience. The most dental work I’ve ever had were a few root canals, and crowns, so I (thankfully) have no frame of reference for what having a tooth extracted feels like – let alone an entire mouthful of teeth! I do suspect, however, that if this were to happen to a person, they’d be curled up under the covers in the fetal position for several days.

Recheck

Dr. Tasi came to our home to recheck Ruby’s mouth last week, three weeks to the day after her procedure, to ensure that everything was healing well. Normally, this recheck would be done at Dr. Chamberlain’s office, but since Ruby gets so stressed being transported, this was a better option for us. Some of the sutures hadn’t dissolved yet (the process can take up to six weeks,) but everything looked good.

I feel bad that I didn’t address Ruby’s dental issues sooner, but I also had to weigh the stress of taking Ruby to the clinic against the benefits of having the procedure done sooner. Could I have saved her from having all of her teeth extracted if I had had this done sooner? Probably. But most likely, because of her resorptive disease, we would have had repeat visits and more extractions at each subsequent visit. There’s no point in playing the “what if” game, or beating myself up. What’s important is that Ruby recovered quickly, and that her mouth feels better. And the good news is that she’ll never need another dental procedure again.

Coming Thursday: Ruby Goes to the Dentist – In Her Own Words

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14 Comments on Ruby Goes to the Dentist – Part Four: Returning Home and Recovery

  1. CarolMcK
    March 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm (7 months ago)

    I just got an email from my holistic vet announcing that they are offering anasthesia-free dental cleaning & polishing. Does anyone have any experience with that? thx!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 17, 2017 at 5:27 am (7 months ago)

      Anesthesia-free cleaning, if it’s even possible on a cat, is a cosmetic procedure that can have longterm adverse effects on your cat’s health. This article provides comprehensive information on why it doesn’t make sense: http://www.wellpets.com/anesthesia-free-vet-dentistry/

      Reply
  2. Patricia
    February 27, 2017 at 5:08 pm (8 months ago)

    I have a feral cat who has lived in my house for about 4 years, He got 6 teeth taken out and return home the same day and ate his dinner that night as normal. He did not seem in any distress or pain. I myself had many teeth pull, crowns and fillings and will be having more. I am used to all this.

    Reply
  3. Angela Gosselin
    February 27, 2017 at 3:45 pm (8 months ago)

    Tyvm for sharing Ruby’s dental experience. Our 10 yr old kitten Phoebe wasn’t feeling well. I read your blog every day and have learned to recognize signs that something is not right with my fur babies. Noticing changes in behavior such as being reclusive, and not sleeping next to me like she always had. Long story short I made an vet appt. They didn’t see any obvious signs of illness except possibly her gums in the back looked a lil inflamed. They ran a senior blood panel & urine test. I took her back the next day for results. Everything came back good. So they further checked her mouth as much as she allowed. The Dr was sure the problem with in her mouth. Later that day they had a dental opening. They put her under and were able to xray her teeth etc.. She has gingivitis 1 molar was cracked and there was decay under her gumline I could not see. They extracted 5 teeth. My poor girl. After her procedure she was given pain meds and antibiotics for a week. My biggest fear was how the other 3 kitties would treat her when returning home. By using your tips with her scent from before with blanky and a t-shirt they all love to lay on the intro of phoebe went smoothly. They hissed a few times but no biggie. The scent transfer really works, again thk you. Last time one of the gang went to vet they treated the return so mean towards eachother. Thk you Ruby, Allegra & Ingred for the help. Purring at you

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 27, 2017 at 3:50 pm (8 months ago)

      I’m so glad our tips helped, and I hope Phoebe has fully recovered from her dental procedure, Angela.

      Reply
  4. Nancy Faulkner
    February 27, 2017 at 11:57 am (8 months ago)

    Ruby,
    Good to from Mom, that all went well. You bounced back fast. That is great. Now…just finish your healing.

    Mom,
    A job well done on your part!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 27, 2017 at 2:34 pm (8 months ago)

      Thank you, Nancy!

      Reply
  5. Steven Howard
    February 27, 2017 at 11:16 am (8 months ago)

    I’m going to have to find a dentist for Mosey. Do vet’s do dental work?

    Reply
  6. Judith
    February 27, 2017 at 8:26 am (8 months ago)

    My girl had to have six extractions (including a canine) and also has a resorptive issue. Although I was pureeing her food, she managed to get some food caught in the stitches and we made a trip to the vet before her follow-up because of the smell coming from her mouth. Her vet flushed her mouth and all was good for the remaining healing time.
    Yes, quite the nerve-racking time while waiting to hear she came through OK. Her integrative vet is wonderful and called me several times throughout the procedure to give me updates and get the OK to move forward with parts of the procedure that were unforeseen.
    Great four-part series, thank you!

    Reply
  7. Sue Brandes
    February 27, 2017 at 8:04 am (8 months ago)

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  8. Michelle S
    February 27, 2017 at 4:26 am (8 months ago)

    More than one of my cats have had dental cleanings and some extractions performed and have all reacted amazingly well. I do put them in a large cage with their litter pan, a bed, and some ice chips until they are totally over the effects of the anesthesia. I can watch to make sure they don’t have a bad reaction such as excessive vomiting and can’t hurt themselves from running or jumping.

    I actually had all my teeth removed several years ago due to ongoing dental problems (cores and crowns, fillings falling out, etc) though painful it really wasn’t that bad. I had first 1, then 3, then 5, and finally 11 teeth extracted on 4 visits with no more than than Novocaine shots administered. I drove myself to and from the oral surgeon’s office each time. I had the extractions done on Friday after work and was back to work on Monday. What actually hurt more was getting used to the dentures.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 27, 2017 at 6:17 am (8 months ago)

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Michelle. I’m sorry you had to go through that, but it makes me feel a little better knowing what Ruby might have experienced!

      Reply
  9. Summer
    February 27, 2017 at 3:04 am (8 months ago)

    The last time Binga had a dental, she made a bee line for the food dish too, the moment my human felt it was okay to put out! In fact she was begging for food almost the moment she got home.

    Reply

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