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Questions for your vet before anesthesia - "Do you monitor temperature during anesthesia?"

We know that anesthesia is a crucial part of veterinary care, allowing for painless procedures and surgeries in cats. During this time, it is good practice for vets to closely monitor various vital signs, including temperature. As part of this series of blog posts, this post highlights the importance of monitoring your cat's temperature during anesthesia and the role it plays in ensuring their safety and well-being. If you missed the first in the series you can also discover why WHERE your cat recovers from their anesthetic is also vitally important.




Proper body temperature maintenance is critical for cats during anesthesia. Cats are particularly susceptible to hypothermia (low body temperature) under anesthesia because of their small size. This can have adverse effects on their overall experience of the procedure and especially on their recovery. Monitoring temperature during the procedure allows for proactive warming of your cat, if needed.




Cats may have different temperature responses based on their breed, age, underlying health conditions, and the duration of the procedure. Procedures that involve a lot of water, such as dentals, or procedures that involve clipping or hair and opening of the body cavities, such as major surgeries, will always lead to a larger drop in temperature than those without. By monitoring temperature, veterinarians can tailor the anesthetic plan to meet the individual needs of your cat, ensuring their safety and comfort.

In cat-only clinics, cats are almost always placed on warming mats during and after their anesthetic, regardless of the time of year. This is not always the case in general practices as it is not standard procedure for dogs, so it may not become standard procedure for staff when it comes to cats. Placing the cat on a warming mat can do a lot to prevent a drop in temperature. This proactive approach is far easier than trying to get a cold cat's temperature up once it has dropped.

Other methods to keep your kitty warm include the use of bubble wrap under blankets, bubble wrapping paws or using baby socks on paws. Warm microwaveable pads or hot water bottles can also be used to keep your cat warm, as can latex gloves filled with warm water - also known as "hot hands". Bubble wrap and latex gloves are things every vet practice can source easily and cheaply. Ask your vet if they proactively keep cats warm during and after anesthesia, and if not - why not? If we are not asking and demanding more for our cats, how likely is it that we will get it?

While low temperature may not lead to long-term consequences for your cat's overall health, it can lead to lower blood pressure during their anesthesia (more about that in a couple of weeks!) and a slower recovery from the anesthesia. Your cat's overall experience of the vet and the surgery will be much more distressing than it needs to be when they eventually wake up cold. In my experience, cats who are warm wake up much more quickly and in a lot less distress than those who wake up cold. Therefore, monitoring temperature assists in providing optimal post-anesthetic care for your cat.

Coldness is also a vicious cycle, as the colder your cat gets, the less able they are to bring their body temperature up as very cold cats cannot shiver - which is one of the main physiologic methods we have to bring our temperatures up. This is true of humans too - may you never be cold enough to not be able to shiver.

Temperature monitoring is a crucial aspect of anesthesia for cats, playing a vital role in ensuring their safety, well-being, and smooth recovery. By closely monitoring temperature, vets can maintain optimal body temperature, tailor anesthetic care, and provide the best possible post-anesthetic care for your cat.


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