"caring for cats"
Cats, like all carnivores, (meat eaters) have two sets of teeth – their ‘baby’ teeth and their ‘adult’ teeth. The baby teeth are called deciduous, and by the time cats are some 6 months of age these have been replaced by their adult teeth – which have to last them the rest of their lives. Hence it is extremely important that cat owners are alert to dental problems.
A cat’s mouth can be one of the most neglected areas of feline health. We have said on other pages that cats are extremely good at hiding health problems; this is true of dental disease as well. Cats will continue eating despite quite significant disease in their mouths. An additional problem for cat owners is that many cats resent being handled and refuse to have their mouths examined.
The sooner a dental problem is spotted the better, hence enabling early treatment. If left, the disease will worsen, possibly resulting in the extraction of a number of teeth. Too many cat owners are under the mistaken impression that only older cats suffer from dental disease, whereas this common problem is frequently found in young cats as well.
So what are the signs which might signal that our feline companion may be suffering from this painful disease ?
Some signs can be obvious and these include the cat not eating, excessive dribbling from the mouth, pawing at the mouth, a chattering of the teeth, smelly breath, or blood at the corners of the mouth or in the food bowl.
Other less obvious signs can include weight loss, eating on one side of the mouth, eating more slowly, choosing soft food and ignoring biscuits, or appearing interested in food but backing away when it’s offered. Any change in a cat’s behaviour around meal-time can suggest a mouth problem, and therefore veterinary advice should be sought as soon as possible.
There are countless conditions which affect a cat’s teeth and mouth, and we example a few of the most common here:
Mild tartar and early gingivitis
So what can we do to reduce the risk of disease, and the associated welfare issues, that tooth problems cause our cats ?
“Look mum, no cavities!”April 2017
"Cats can be co-operative when something feels good, which, to a cat, is the way everything is supposed to feel as much of the time as possible"
Roger Caras, photographer and author