Gingivitis in Cats - Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Gum disease is a dental condition that commonly affects our feline friends. This is due to the fact that not all cats receive adequate dental care. Our vets in Madison talk about gingivitis in cats including how it forms and what can be done to prevent it from occurring.

Cat Ginigivitis What is it & How Does it Happen?

Gingivitis is the earliest form of gum disease and its name refers to the inflammation of the gums. This condition can be mild or range to severe causing serious issues with eating, vocalizing and your kitty's overall health. If your cat is suffering from gingivitis, your vet will need to perform a complete dental cleaning with your feline friend under general anesthesia. Just like humans, plaque - a buildup of germs, debris, dead skin cells, mucus, and food - can accumulate on the teeth and contribute to this dental issue.

Symptoms of Gingivitis in Cats

The typical signs that accompany gingivitis are:

  • Red or swollen gums, especially around the area of the inner cheek
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty eating or not eating at all
  • Difficulty picking up toys or food
  • Drooling
  • Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth
  • Calculi / Tartar

Causes Gingivitis in Cats

The common causes of gingivitis in cats include:

  • Bad Dental Care
  • Old age
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Soft Food
  • FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
  • Crowded teeth

Diagnosis of Gingivitis in Cats

Your cat will likely try and hide any signs of pain or discomfort that they may be feeling. This is a natural behavior for cats as they spent centuries living wild where they needed to protect themselves and not show any weakness. This makes it very important that you pay attention to every sign that your cat may show. Bringing your cat in for their annual routine exam is also essential to the detection of dental disease, as a vet is often able to identify signs of conditions while observing an animal and checking for symptoms listed above.

How to Treat Cat Gingivitis

Cat gingivitis treatment focuses on eliminating accumulated plaque and dental calculus, as well as treating or extracting destabilized and/or diseased teeth. To address any inflammatory dental disease, routine tooth cleanings and dental X-rays should be conducted under anesthetic.

Stomatitis is a condition that can cause a great deal of pain for your kitty. In order to treat this condition, your vet will need to remove the affected teeth. This will reduce any pain and protect the surrounding teeth.

The frequency of dental checkups will be determined by the degree of periodontal disease in your cat. If your adult cat's teeth are overcrowded, or if it has baby (deciduous) teeth, your veterinarian may recommend a tooth extraction. Your vet can also show you how to properly clean your cat's teeth and what you can do to avoid further dental issues.

Caring For Your Cat's Teeth at Home

There are a number of different cat-specific toothpastes on the market. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently so that cats become accustomed to it.

Using a Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Leave snacks on the counter near the toothpaste and toothbrush so cats can associate something positive with them. You may also choose to allow your cat to lick a small amount of toothpaste before you begin brushing for the first time to allow them to recognize the flavor once you start.

Adjusting Your Cat to Touching Their Mouth

You can also use the treats your cat knows and loves to help get them used to touching their mouth. You can begin by placing the treat just inside their mouth the first time. As they become accustomed to it, start placing it deeper and deeper into their mouth, on their teeth. This gets them used to you touching their mouth and makes it easier for you to introduce the toothpaste.

Brushing and Cleaning Your Cat's Teeth and Mouth

With your cat used to the toothbrush, toothpaste, and you touching their mouth, it should be easier to brush their teeth. Brush along the gum line for about 15 to 30 seconds, only on the outside of the teeth, and reward them with a treat afterward.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Would you like to schedule your cat for routine dental cleaning or examination? Contact our Madison vets today to schedule a visit.