Copyright by Flora Breen Robison
One year ago on April 11th, 2011, my darling Amy had all her teeth removed. In recognition of this anniversary, I am republishing an article that was originally published elsewhere.
A CAT WITH ONLY FOUR TEETH:
I debated about whether or not to do this article because I would have to think about a subject that makes me both mad and sad at the same time, although happy that the ordeal is in the past. Unfortunately, Amy’s life is winding down and her life has only a handful of months left. She may not reach the summer, or she may, but she won’t survive through the summer.
My darling Amy was abused before she was rescued by the Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven Society. In what ways I do not know, but she was not allowed to be adopted by a family with children or men. Part of that abuse was no proper dental care. I decided to write it because it is her story and because it may help people with pets who have bad teeth.
When Amy came into my life, she had only four teeth left -to my knowledge. They were her four fangs, and a top fang had the point broken off. I thought maybe she had been in some accident or been hit by someone, but that didn’t seem logical -if any teeth were broken off, the fangs would be gone too. So what was going on?
When I had Amy for six months, her vet looked in her mouth for the first time (!?) and just baldly stated “This cat is very elderly. see? Only four teeth” How wonderful for me to hear that a cat that the shelter had thought was only a few years old due to that’s what they had been told by the abusive former owners (don’t always believe what people tell you) was about the human age of 80. And in such a matter of fact comment. Suffice to say I changed vets.
Even if I had realized that Amy was old instead of the young adult I wanted to find, I would have taken her because she had been abused. That is how I made my choice. Amy had been abused, so I took her. But I knew from that point onward that I would have a shorter time than I wanted with her.
I took her to another vet who is a specialist in dental surgery. Amy’s x-Rays revealed her mouth had the top parts of nearly all her teeth. This was why she was barely eating anything- she was in pain all the time. The vet quoted $800.00 and that is what I paid her despite the fact that her estimate was wrong and the amount of work was closer to $1200.00. She had told me a quote and she stood by that. But there went the money for my property taxes.
The surgery took four hours and that is the longest a vet will have an animal asleep or it becomes dangerous. Not everything could be removed and we decided that the surgery would put too much strain on her to do it again. Meanwhile, most of her teeth were removed. Amy’s mouth was no longer in pain and she eats normal amounts of food.
Oh, about that age assessment. The first vet was wrong. My cat is indeed older than I thought when I adopted her. But this idea that she is nearly 20 was totally off. She was much closer to 14 years old. Physically, of course, who knows how old she is. People age at various rates and so do cats as well.
My vet wrote a book about dental health of cats and dogs. I gave her written permission to use Amy’s photographs in her book. Her name is Dr. Josephine Banyard and her book will be available for vets to learn from her experience.