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What A Cat's Teeth Can Tell You about Your Cat's Health

My friend Andrew brushes his cats” teeth every morning. They’ve come to expect it. It’s something I never thought about doing–until I had to take one of my cats to the vet.

My cat had a foul odor coming from his mouth, and he was dripping saliva. What I found strange was that the day before he was fine. When we got up in the morning, I noticed his breath and the wetness around his mouth. When we went downstairs for breakfast, he wouldn’t eat.

Open wide!

At the Vet
We were lucky. The vet dentist was in. He removed my cat’s rotten teeth, and my kitty was fine–until the following year.  This time we saw the partner of the vet we usually see. Since she didn’t see a rotten tooth this time, she thought his foul breath was kidney related. I didn’t believe her. I said it was the exact same symptoms from last year when he had two rotten teeth.

She seemed convinced it was kidney disease or feline leukemia. I was firm and told her, no, I think it’s his teeth. But since she is the expert, I started to worry. She wanted to run tests.

Bad Breath and Disease
“A healthy cat’s breath should not be offensive,” says Eric Davis, DVM, a fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry and director of the Dental Referral Service at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. As my vet said, bad breath can be the result of periodontal, kidney, respiratory, liver disease, or even diabetes.

“However, by far, the most common problem associated with bad breath is periodontal disease,” says Dr. Davis. “Just think how your breath would smell if you didn’t brush your teeth for a week, months or even years.”

It’s important to check your cat’s teeth and gums regularly. If you see any blood, inflammation, or if your cat wince–and not because he doesn’t want you checking his mouth–but because he feels pain, then take him to the vet.

Test Results
Fortunately, the tests for kidney disease and feline leukemia came back negative. The situation resolved itself because the tooth had fallen out, and the area in his mouth that was inflamed healed–just like in the wild. It saved us money too. The dental visit, tests, and complete exam added up. A tooth extraction would have cost more.

Daily Brushing
Following my friend Andrew’s advice: “You need to make your cat comfortable with having his teeth brushed; so start early and make it part of his daily routine,” he explains. “First you will need to introduce your cat to the toothbrush. The earlier your cat is introduced to the toothbrush, the easier it will be for him to accept the brushing routine later on.”

If you are going to brush your cat’s teeth, you can buy a toothbrush that will fit on your finger. You can also buy a cat toothbrush with a handle. Both versions have extremely soft bristles. And whatever you do, don’t use toothpaste designed for humans. It will upset your cat’s stomach. You can buy tuna or chicken flavored toothpaste at your local pet shop.

According to Andrew, his cats enjoy their daily toothbrush routine. For Andrew, it’s more time for him to bond with his fur kids.

11 comments to What A Cat’s Teeth Can Tell You

  • You know, @DoggyBytes would say Earl needs some raw meaty bones! Many weeks ago, we started feeding Ty and Buster pork necks (easy to buy at Walmart, easy to store in RV). The diet addition was prompted by some tartar buildup on Buster’s teeth and some nasty looking stuff on Ty’s teeth and gums. Perhaps because the buildup wasn’t as bad as we thought, we saw a remarkable improvement in 7-10 days. Now, many weeks later, I can’t believe how white the teeth are and how pink the gums are. I’m just sayin’!

  • [...] Read more from the original source:  What A Cat's Teeth Can Tell You « Pet News and Views [...]

  • Glad that Earl Grey is okay :) So, are you going to start brushing his teeth every day now?

  • [...] What A Cat's Teeth Can Tell You « Pet News and Views [...]

  • [...] What A Cat’s Teeth Can Tell You « Pet News and Views [...]

  • Hi Karen,
    Yes, I tried, but at age 16, it’s not going well. He wants no part of it. You have to train them early. But I just got one of those finger brushes, which I will try. Michele

  • My kitty brushes her own teeth — with the whole mice I feed her! Crunch, crunch, crunch, and he gets an A+ at the vet for her teeth!

  • ooh, I can barely read this, I’m not a fan of the dentist. lol. Glad to hear the tooth issue got resolved. I can’t imagine brushing a cat’s teeth!

  • [...] What A Cat's Teeth Can Tell You « Pet News and Views [...]

  • Terrie Jeschke

    Thank you for relaying your stories about your feline family members. My cat, Fred, is 17 and has been having a tooth problem. We even had an abscess burst one night (shook us and Fred very badly) but he immediately started to gain weight and chow down. Unfortunately the tooth has not fallen out and is a problem again so we have a checkup (probably with some sedation) on Tuesday. Fred is still a fighter even at this age and has drawn as many cc’s of blood on vets and they have drawn on him so dental exams have been fleeting at best. His breath is odiferous, he drools on incessantly (frequently on me) and he wants to eat but has trouble positioning the food in his mouth. I have peeked in his mouth during yawns and it looks a little funky at that tooth. He also has wetness around his gums. Fortunately the gums looks nice and pink. Hopefully they can extract the tooth and he can dive into his favorites again. You all have allayed my fears somewhat….although I’m still worried.

  • Lord! One more thing. But my dog, Daisy, is almost 9 and the groomer brushes her teeth once in a while. That in itself was a brand new idea for me. I’m not sure I’m up to the challenge of brushing them myself. I am hoping her diet of Trader Joe’s kibble moistened w/ wet or human food will keep her teeth healthy. Fingers are crossed.

    xxo, Jackie

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