Cat Diseases

By the age of three, at least 50% of cats will have some form of dental or oral disease that affects their health and quality of life. This only increases with age, and with many cats now making it into their mid to late teens, we have seen a large increase in the number of cats
needing dental care. Cats are masters of deception, so most will NOT show signs of a problem (especially as this might alert us to put them in a carrier and take them to the vet – how very undignified!).

It makes sense that cats with dental pain would stop eating, but this is RARELY seen, even in the face of severe welfare issues such as tooth resorption and gingivostomatitis. Cats will eat until the prospect of starving to death is more attractive than the pain of eating. This
can take months or years to occur. We can stop them suffering in silence by looking for the hidden signs and treating them straight away.

The most common sign of dental disease is bad breath (halitosis). Bad breath is NOT normal, and tells us there is definitely something wrong, even if your cat is bravely hiding its problem. Other signs we may see if we look closely include:

  • Dental plaque and tartar
  • Red, swollen or bleeding gums (gingivitis)
  • Blood or pus in the mouth
  • Ulcers or swellings
  • Broken teeth
  • Loose or damaged teeth
  • Holes in the teeth (tooth resorption)
  • Excessive drooling or salivation
  • Pawing or rubbing at the mouth
  • Trouble eating (chewing on one side, eating soft food only, dropping food)
Young cats and kittens can also get problems:

  • Orthodontic or bite problems (overshot, undershot, carnassial malocclusion)
  • Retained baby teeth
  • Broken baby teeth
  • Juvenile hyperplastic gingivitis (overgrown red gums)
  • Juvenile gingivitis or stomatitis
  • Unerupted or impacted teeth
  • Dentigerous cysts
Information on the more common dental issues can be found below. If you have questions that aren’t answered here, head over to the contact section for further advice.