Reader: What Caused My CH Kitten To Become Vestibular For Days Post-Surgery?
Every so often, a reader will ask a question that leaves me scratching my head too. At times like those, I like to share their comment, in hopes that another reader out there can offer some advice and food for thought.
The other day, Lesley, a certified vet tech, shared her story about what happened to her adopted CH kitten after a neuter and declaw surgery. I’ll let her tell the story:
“I’m a CVT in Tempe, AZ at an 11 doctor practice. I recently adopted a stray kitten with CH that was found in our parking lot. I asked every doctor there if they thought he was healthy enough for a neuter/declaw surgery, everyone agreed he was. His blood work and urine were both normal.
While under anesthesia, he did perfectly! He was very consistent with his heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, temperature, and his SP02 was 98-99 throughout the whole procedure. After surgery, he seemed to recover very well, until later on that night when I gave him his pain medication.
We gave the dose of oral buprenorphine, and about 5 minutes after he started becoming very vestibular, very freaked out, and “ketamine-like.” He was head-bobbing, disoriented, couldn’t stand, let alone walk, and was rolling around.
I called the doctor who did the surgery – he was baffled. I took him to work the next morning so a doctor could evaluate him. He was slightly better, but still disoriented and unable to stand. One of the veterinarians I work with said he has seen some cats get “vestibular” post anesthesia and one that lasted for 3 days.
He had surgery on Monday, and it’s Thursday and he is still head-bobbing, dizzy, and trying to walk but is rolling around. He is definitely better than the first night, but still not back to “normal.”
Prior to surgery, he showed very mild signs of CH – he would walk/run with mild wobbling, he wasn’t ever dizzy or disoriented, and he could jump into a litter box and play with the other cats easily.
I’m wondering if anyone else has had this reaction with their CH kitty post anesthesia or post pain medication. I’m worried he’ll never get back to his normal state, and he’ll be this vestibular for the rest of his life.
The doctors I work with are all split in their predictions – half think he’ll recover and just needs time to get any residual drugs out of his system, and the other half think he may stay this way.
Does anyone have any more experience with this?”
From my own experience combined with information from the CH Kitty Club, many of us believe that it is safe to use anesthesia on CH cats. That said, as with all animals with brain conditions, there are some things that need to be taken into consideration during and post-surgery.
I learned much of this first-hand, when nearly two years ago, we had Ellie spayed. She came through the surgery perfectly, and seemed like she wanted to rest and relax – until we brought her home.
She then turned into a little firecracker – a ball of energy – that was exponentially more wobbly since the anesthesia hadn’t entirely worn off yet. Her moderate CH was amplified by the anesthesia. So, this moderate CH kitten who had a hard time walking without falling to begin with was literally bouncing off everything. We tried to confine her to a room so she could rest, but then she freaked out even more, jumping at the door.
I wonder if Lesley’s kitten went through something similar. Ellie’s anesthesia wore off by the next morning or so, but as one of Lesley’s coworkers mentioned, it could take up to a few days.
One of the turning points in Lesley’s story is when the kitten receives buprenorphine. I can’t imagine that would make him more “vestibular,” as Lesley puts it, as it’s a painkiller. But, perhaps the experience made him freak out? (Goodness knows many cats hate to be pilled.)
I also can’t help but wonder if some of his behavior changes are also due to the fact that her CH kitty is now declawed. Perhaps he’ll need time to adjust to living without his claws, but that may not be all that’s going on.
So, dear readers, if you have declawed your CH cat, did you notice a change in his abilities post surgery? Have you had any experience with buprenorphine? Or other experiences like hers? How did everything turn out? Do you have any advice you can offer?
Please share in the comments so we can help Lesley and her little CHer!