Cat Care

All About Your Cat’s Dental Health

Did you know?  70% of cats over the age of 3 have dental disease.

Cat Tooth Problems

Four types of feline dental disease make up the vast majority of problems for which the extraction of one or more teeth may be the only remedy:

Periodontal disease is the most common, affecting an estimated 85 percent of cats over the age of six. In this disease, layers of plaque accumulate and harden on the tooth surface. Bacterial poisons and enzymes from the plaque eventually prompt an inflammatory response in the gums (gingiva) that, if left untreated, leads to severe gum inflammation (gingivitis). In cats, advanced periodontal disease can quickly progress to an end-stage condition for which extraction is the only reasonable treatment option.

Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORL) is another comparatively common dental affliction, affecting an estimated 50 percent of cats. This disease is characterized by plaque-caused lesions that start in the bone tissue (dentin) just below the enamel. Due to an inappropriate immune-system response, the tissue is unable to rebuild itself, and the lesions can progress rapidly and damage the tooth and its root irreparably.

Feline gingivitis/stomatitis syndrome (FGS) is a relatively uncommon condition, occurring in about one in 100 cats, most frequently among those with feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), or other viral, nutritional or hormonal conditions. Although antibiotics and steroid therapy may be helpful in some cases, extraction of most or all teeth may be the only treatment option.

Fractured teeth may occur as the result of trauma or, less commonly, through chewing. Doing nothing leaves a broken tooth that is painful and a possible avenue for infection. Extraction thus fulfills the goals of relieving the affected cat’s pain and preventing infection.

It may be time for your cat to have a dental exam. Our Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT) includes:

  • Pre-anesthetic bloodwork
  • Anesthesia and monitoring
  • Complete oral exam
  • Teeth scaling and polishing
  • Full mouth x-rays
  • Extractions as needed
  • Pain medication

Signs that your cat may have dental disease:

  • Bad breath
  • Vocalizing
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Pawing at face
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth
  • Dropping food, eating more slowly than normal
  • Drooling
  • Appearing hungry, then backing away from the food bowl
  • Losing weight
  • Failing to groom
  • Depression or lethargy
Periodontal disease
Severe periodontal disease in a 3-year-old cat
Cat Care

Cat New Year’s Resolutions

cute cat

In 2012, I will…

  • Eat healthier
  • Get in shape
  • Manage my stress level
  • Spend more time with my family
  • Learn something new

Your cat can’t keep these resolutions alone – you need to help!

Eat healthier: Many cats need a particular type of diet to lose weight, stop itching, have normal stools, not vomit, etc. In general, a healthy diet for cats has more protein and less carbohydrate. Ask us for recommendations on the best food for your cat. Also, how much and how often you feed your cat can make a big difference.

Get in shape: Since it’s pretty hard to get a cat on a treadmill, convincing your cat to exercise generally means playing. For indoor cats, playing is a substitute for hunting. Toys that cats like to stalk, chase, and pounce on will get them moving. You may have to try different toys to find what your cat likes – laser pointer, fishing pole toy, crumpled ball of paper, catnip, empty box, and fake mice are a few options. Get cheap toys that you can switch out frequently – because cats get bored!

Manage my stress level: It may seem like they have the most undemanding life possible, but cats have stress. And a stressed-out cat usually has problems that are not too fun to live with, such as urinating on your new rug. Check out for information on what stresses cats out and how to make things better.

Spend more time with my family: Cats may seem aloof, but relationships with their favorite humans are very important to them. Bored and lonely cats can develop some very un-loveable behavior problems. Keep your relationship with your cat going strong by spending 5 to 10 minutes a day doing something interactive that your cat likes – playing with a favorite toy or having a grooming session with the Furminator.

Learn something new: Maybe old dogs can’t learn new tricks, but cats really can learn new things. It just takes the right rewards, and letting the cat think the change was their idea. (Good luck trying to force a cat to do anything.) Some new things your cat could learn: that the cat carrier is not a sign of the apocalypse, that the scratching post is the place to exercise his claws, that nighttime is not playtime, how to walk on a leash, or even how to do tricks like “sit up” and coming when called. Ask us for information about how to train your cat – it really is possible and can make 2011 your cat’s best year ever.

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