Do cats suffer from dental issues?

Do cats suffer from dental issues?

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Yes, cats do suffer from dental issues. Dental diseases are common in cats aged above 3. Pain is the most common symptom of dental issues in a cat. He may show the pain in numerous ways โ€“rubbing his paws over the mouth, showing obvious discomfort while chewing food, and drooling a lot. Abnormal bad breath is also a common symptom of dental issues.

If you find your cat showing an abnormal reluctance to eat, preferring moist food items to dry foods, and losing weight drastically, then he could be suffering from dental issues. Approach a vet at the earliest.

Most of the dental problems common to cats are preventable. Timely detection and early treatment can make a great difference.

Here are some common dental problems that your cat could be suffering from:


Plaque is a layer of bacteria that forms on the teeth surface. It is not visible initially, but as it builds up, it can be seen as a thick gray or white filmy layer.

Plaque can be detected early, even when the layer is not visible by visiting a vet. A vet uses a special solution called a disclosing solution, which helps reveal plaque.

The best way to prevent plaque in cats is by maintaining their teeth clean. Cleaning teeth surface daily removes plaque and ensures healthy gums. In addition to brushing his teeth at home, schedule regular visits to the vet for professional cleaning.

When brushing your cat's teeth at home, use dental products that are designed exclusively for cats. Using human dental products is not recommended, as they can turn toxic for your feline.


Plaque left untreated, develops into a hard layer on the teeth because substances such as calcium get deposited on the layer. This hardened layer is tartar. It is usually yellow, cream or brown.

Left undetected or untreated, tartar forms a huge hard mass that can be removed only by a dental procedure called dental scaling. A vet performs dental scaling on your cat after administering an anesthetic.


Gingivitis is another adverse effect of ignoring plaque build-up. In a cat suffering from gingivitis, gums surrounding the teeth get inflamed. As a result, the gums become swollen and red, which is extremely painful for the cat.

Gingivitis occurs as a result of tartar invading the gumline โ€“ the region below the gum tissue. Once tartar goes deep into the gumline, there follows a steady inflow of plaque bacteria into the region below the gumline. These bacteria cause frequent gum infections. The infection can range from mild to moderate and severe.

Treatment for gingivitis depends on the severity of the dental condition. Your vet may advise a strict brushing regimen for your cat at home, put him on antibiotics or immunosuppressive medication, or recommend a dental scaling procedure.

In serious cases, a vet may recommend the removal of the teeth that have become the source of inflammation. Given the tendency of dental issues to escalate, including brushing in your pet's routine, becomes essential. Train your cat right at a young age so that the habit sticks as he grows up. Ask your vet for guidance on introducing your feline to good oral health practices.

How to Prevent Dental Health Problems in Cats 

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. We just love cats to cheek-rub our face with affection, but not if tuna-breath slaps you upside the head. Bacteria from dirty teeth cause pungent cat breath, but dental health needs more than a breath mint. 

About 70 percent of cats develop dental problems, called periodontal disease, by age three! For a thorough cleaning, veterinarians must first anesthetize your cat. Itโ€™s much easier to prevent problems before they start. Here are five tips to take the yuck out of kitty kisses.

Feed Some Crunch   

Wet foods can be a healthy way to feed cats, but they can increase the chance for tartar buildup. Offering cats some crunchy foods can help. Commercial โ€œdental dietsโ€ are also available that include special ingredients that help prevent tarter from adhering to the teeth.

Offer Dental Treats 

You can find both crunchy and soft dental treats that can help keep catsโ€™ teeth bright. These encourage cats to chew, and also include the same types of ingredients found in special dental diets to reduce tartar accumulation. 

Treat With Steak 

Cats donโ€™t tend to chew their food, though, and instead grab small mouthfuls and swallow. Try offering your cat a small hunk of firm cooked steak once a week. That way they must chew off a swallow-able amount, and chewing can help naturally scrub the teeth.

Rinse The Teeth 

Dental rinses are available that can be added to your catโ€™s drinking water. These help reduce the amount of tartar. 

Offer Kitty Tooth Paste  

Malt and chicken flavored pet tooth pastes often appeal to cats as a treat. The enzymes in the paste can work to improve dental health even without brushing. Offer a bit of the paste on your finger as a kitty treat a couple of times a week.

Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, consultant to the pet care industry and the award winning author of 23 pet care books.

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