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The earliest sign of periodontal disease in cats is gingivitis, a gum disease characterized by inflammation of the gums due to plaque build-up. While gingivitis is reversible, periodontal disease is not, making it crucial to identify early signs and get the necessary treatment. Watch out for these signs that your cat’s dental health may be at risk.
Red, swollen gums
A yellowish plaque build-up may appear on their teeth, with red, inflamed gums. The best time to check is when they’re asleep or at ease. Make it a regular practice to check for red, inflamed gums and plaque build-up. If you spot a brownish build-up, your cat is likely to have tartar and suffers from severe gingivitis or early periodontitis.
If your cat’s breath smells bad, the chances are that they’re suffering from gingivitis, and as the disease progresses, their breath just gets worse.
Pain or discomfort
Monitor your cat’s behavior carefully to notice any signs of pain, especially while eating. Swelling of the gums can result in avoiding hard foods, eating with difficulty, eating slowly, or refraining from eating altogether. The discomfort experienced can cause them to become lethargic and result in poor overall health. Check for changes in their usual behaviors to know if something is amiss.
Certain factors may increase the risk of your cat developing gingivitis. Old age, diabetes, feline immunodeficiency virus, leukemia, breed disposition (for purebred cats) are all factors to bear in mind while checking for gingivitis.
Once you’ve identified the signs, it’s time to book an appointment with your vet for an oral examination. Depending on the severity of the disease, your vet may perform scaling and polishing under general anaesthesia to remove the plaque or tartar build-up. Once this is done, you will be instructed on practices that promote your cat’s dental hygiene.
Your vet may recommend a change in their diet to include more plant fibers that prevent the build-up of plaque. You may also be asked to give chews and add supplements to your cat’s water to maintain dental health.
Brushing their teeth
You may be given a special paste to rub on your cat’s teeth with a brush, a cloth, or your hands. As effective as this practice is in preventing plaque build-up, it’s easier said than done. Most cats struggle to get away, but you’re in luck if your cat enjoys the taste and feel of it! Bottles of mouth rinse are quicker as they can be used to spray over your cat’s teeth. With proper care and regular check-ups, your feline friends can be spared of their dental troubles!