Q: Is it safe to put an 11-year-old cat under anesthesia?

Original Question: "My cat is 11 years old and he had suffered from cystitis and he also has kidney function decrease. He has a quite big tumor on his back and he keeps getting thinner because of that. My vet suggested to do surgery on him but he also said there could be a major side effect from the anaesthesia and the surgery. I’m very confused as to what to do as I really am not ready to lose my cat :( Could you please tell me another option and the risk factors? Thank you very much." - Abu

Vet Certified Answer | Answered: November 29, 2017

Hi Abu,

Thanks for your question.

First and foremost, you should not rule out anesthesia if your cat has a cancer that could be threatening his life. It would really depend on the degree of renal failure that exists but only the most advanced stage would make me consider not performing an anesthetic. There are things you can do to reduce the risk, such as giving pre-anesthetic fluids to remove some of the toxins in the blood that the kidneys are not removing completely.

However, I think you need to do some more investigating first. You don't mention what the mass is which makes me believe it hasn't been diagnosed yet. You can have your vet aspirate the mass and perform a cytology on it with the goal of identifying the type of mass it is. This will then dictate the treatment and prognosis. Some types of growths can be shrunk with medication before surgery is considered.

There is very little reason an 11-year-old cat couldn't have an aesthetic to potentially remove a life-threatening cancer. I would recommend that if your current vet is not giving you a treatment option, then I would consider getting a second opinion or getting a referral to a veterinary oncologist.

Thanks for your question. I hope this helps.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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