Protect your cat’s purr-ly whites

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by Vetsavers of St Thomas’ Road, Spalding

Bad breath is usually an indicator that something is not right with your cat’s health.

Tooth abscess, decay or broken teeth can all cause bad breath, more often called halitosis gingivitis.

Periodontal disease­ of the tissue surrounding the teeth and periodontitis, inflammation of the tissue, are all conditions directly effecting the teeth or gums themselves.

However, there are also other potentially more serious conditions that can cause bad breath – feline leukaemia virus, feline stomatitis or mouth tumours.

Does your cat seem to be in pain around the mouth area? Is there a reluctance to eat? Does your cat try to eat but drops the food once it gets into the mouth?

Is your cat pawing at the mouth? Is your cat drooling? Is your cat suffering weight loss?

These could be signs of a bad, broken or abscessed tooth or gum disease. If possible, check your cat’s mouth for foreign bodies such as splinters of bones lodged between the teeth. Check to see if the gums look normal and that there are no signs of swelling or bleeding.

An abscessed or damaged tooth may not be noticeable to you, so if in doubt get your vet to check your cat’s mouth. Most practices now have qualified Pet Health councillors, as we do, so you can book an appointment for the nurse to check the mouth.

Weight loss can occur because of an inability to eat sufficiently.

There are also several other underlying conditions that cause feline bad breath that can only be successfully diagnosed by your vet. Dental disease is one of the most common health problems seen by vets.

Tartar build-up caused by plaque should be avoided by either cleaning your cat’s teeth yourself or having an annual scaling by your vet.

There are specially formulated toothpastes and specially designed toothbrushes for cats. Never use a human toothbrush or toothpaste. You can purchase a finger brush for cats. Special diets are available for cats which are designed to reduce plaque and tartar formation. Royal Canin do a dental kibble specially formulated for cats to help keep teeth clean.

Cats and gingivitis

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, which can be treated and reversed if diagnosed early. The signs and symptoms are red, swollen and puffy gums that bleed easily. If treatment is not received, gingivitis could progress into periodontitis, an advanced and more serious stage of gum disease which includes bone loss and is not reversible.

Kidney and liver disease and feline leucaemia can cause bad breath in cats. Kidney and liver disease can lead to dental disease and so cause bad breath in cats. It should also be noted that dental disease can form bacteria which can break loose from the mouth, enter the blood stream and cause problems with the kidneys, liver and heart.

Feline leukaemia has also been associated with bad breath in cats. Your vet can perform tests for feline leukaemia and may also test for feline aids.

Cats can be affected by stomatitis, also known as lymphocytic plasmacytic syndrome (LPGS), which is an inflammation of the entire mouth. Symptoms may include bad breath, weight loss, inability to eat and excess salivation.

Oral tumours can occur in cats. Any swelling of the mouth associated with bad breath should be checked by your vet.

Cats can suffer quickly with bad teeth and so we would always urge you, if there is a change in your cats eating habits or demeanour, to pop along to your vet or Phc and let them take a quick look. Remember, prevention is always better (and cheaper) than the cure.