Most of us are pretty good about going to the dentist every 6 months or at least every year for a cleaning and check up to be sure we have not developed cavities or have any other issues. But, it seems, that most cat’s teeth are left out of the loop when it comes to their care.
There is a very strong relationship between the health of your teeth and gums and your heart and blood system. The same is true for a cat. If they have bad teeth and gums, chances are that they may also have developed some heart issues like a murmur.
Good teeth and gums are a genetic gift. Some of us have it and some don’t. Again, this is the same for cats. Feeding them dry food, thinking that chewing it will keep their teeth clean, is a fallacy. Any cat guardian will tell you that their cat does not chew their dry food because when they vomit it up, it looks just like it went down- whole pieces. Cats are just like us, good teeth are the gift of a good gene pool.
Perhaps we don’t think about out cat’s teeth because they do not have their mouth open and tongue hanging out all the time like dogs so we see our dog’s teeth a lot more. At any rate, we cannot stress the importance of being sure that when you take your cat in to your veterinarian for a yearly check up (which I hope you do) that they do a thorough exam of their teeth. At the very least, we hope that you are taking them in every 3 years for their Rabies and Distemper vaccination and they would have a complete exam at that time. As your cat gets older, it is even more important to have a good check up, even if you have chosen to no longer have them vaccinated because they are at such low risk as an indoor only pet.
Cats are amazing at hiding their pain and for those of us who have been unlucky enough to have gone through the pain of an infected tooth, you can understand the kind of pain that multiple infected teeth and gums would be like.
Take your cat to the vet if they have these symptoms-
– bad breath
– suddenly not eating or poor eating
– pawing at or rubbing their mouth
– sudden lethargy
– sudden crankiness when being pet
– hiding under the bed instead of sleeping in their favorite chair
Any of these symptoms could be a sign of dental issues as well as a number of other health issues. Any sudden change in behavior should prompt you to take your cat to your veterinarian.
In addition to bringing in your cat to check out the teeth, there are other proactive things you can do to keep your cat’s teeth and gums healthy. One of the easiest is to use a good quality dental water additive. Biotene and Clenz-a-dent make good ones that cats seem to like. You can brush your cat’s teeth but this must be started when they are young. Use a child’s toothbrush and buy the fish flavored toothpaste from the pet supply store. Another thing to do is to check your cat’s teeth yourself. Pick up your cat and pull back his upper lip at the corner and have a quick peek. If the teeth look anything other than nice and white, it’s time for a check up. Talk to your veterinarian about what is needed. Certainly, having to put your cat under anesthesia is risky and many times, they don’t need such an extensive cleaning but rather a surface cleaning that can be done under a light sedative which is a lot more affordable.
A thorough teeth cleaning is expensive, running between $350 and $500 depending on what needs to be done. This is not something your cat needs every year but it is a wise investment in the health of a member of your family that relies on you for their wellbeing. If you ignore their teeth, then your cat is at risk of developing multiple health issues which could result in chronic pain and shorten their life.
Let’s do our best for our fur-kids!