signs of gingivitis in cats


Signs of Gingivitis in Cats

July 18, 2016

Gingivitis is a condition where the gum is inflamed. In fact, it is not only experienced by human, but also in cats as well. Yes, cats, like human, can prone to chronic diseases. In cats, gums inflammation can be categorized as chronic.

Usually, when the cat is having gingivitis, chances are it will also develop stomatitis (mucus membranes inflammation in the back of the mouth). Those two diseases are known as oral issues which can be severe.


overview, signs of gingivitis in cats


What is exactly gingivitis? This is can be classified as dental disease. Gingivitis is a condition where there are built up plaque in the cat’s teeth. Plaque is a mixture of food debris and bacteria. There are several stages of plaque forming in the teeth.

And pile of plaque can cause gums inflammation. This condition can happen to one tooth only, or can be spread to more than one tooth.

Basically, gingivitis is not severe. It’s just the mildest periodontal disease. Still, if your cat remains untreated, the gum line will keep receding. The bone and ligaments supporting the teeth will be affected. Therefore, it will lead to loosening teeth and they will easily fall out.

In the early stages, the plaques can still be easily removed by brushing the teeth. However, in the next stages, plaque becomes hardened and can’t be removed at all from the teeth. The hardened plaque is called tarter or calculus. Tarter can be seen as a yellow taint along the gum; the spot where gum meets the teeth.

If gingivitis is not cured for a very long time, the condition will lead to LPGS (Plasmacytic-Lymphotic Stomatitis). This is also known as a severe gingivitis. This condition can cause so much pain to the cat.

Actually, most cat owners think that teeth and gum is not a serious issue when it comes to cats. They don’t even think it’s necessary to brush the teeth of their cats. In fact, unhealthy gums and teeth will not only affect the breath (causing halitosis), but it will also cause infection and pain.

Keep in mind that gums are actually flesh. They do have blood supply. And therefore bacteria can be easily transported to other organs from there. Kidneys, liver, heart, and other organs can be damaged and lead to organ failure just because of unhealthy gums and teeth.

What Causes Gingivitis in Cats?

what causes gingivitis in cats


There are actually many triggers in this chronic inflammation in the gums and mouth of the cats. The real roof of this problem still remains unknown, but many vets agree that this can be caused by allergic reaction and hypersensitive of the cat.

The allergic reaction can be triggered by plaque in teeth, and this condition is known with plaque intolerant.

Plus, gingivitis is closely related to abnormal immune response in cats. And issues in immune responses can be caused by diseases like FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus), Bartonella Henselae, Calicvirus, and Feline Herpes Virus. However, still no studies managed to prove that.

There are also external factors which may play a role in causing gingivitis, like genetic predisposition, wrong diet, and even environmental stress.

The Signs of Gingivitis in Cats

the signs of gingivitis in cats


If you see these signs of gingivitis in cats, you should be very careful and take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.

How Can Gingivitis be Diagnosed?

how can gingivitis be diagnosed


First, you can’t self diagnose your cat even though you have seen signs of gingivitis in it. The first step is taking it to the vet. The vet will examine the mouth and check the clear signs of gingivitis, like bad breath, swollen gums, and pile of tarter.

In some cases, it may also need full mouth x-rays to check whether there’s further problem caused by the inflamed gums because sometimes the disease extends.

If your vet finds the signs of stomatitis or plasmacytic lymphocytic stomatitis, your cat needs a biopsy to get further examination of this condition. Sometimes, FeLV and FIV test are also performed to find out whether the gingivitis is caused by FIV/FeLV or not.

But don’t worry because the physical exam will be conducted under anesthesia, so your cat won’t feel the pain. When you see your cat is being examined, you would notice multiple lesions in the lips, tongue, back of the mouth, roof of the mouth, and of course the gums. The most affected spot is the area that surrounds the back teeth.

Are Some Cats More Susceptible in Gingivitis?

are some cats more susceptible in gingivitis


There are some studies stated that certain purebred cats breeds like Siamese are more susceptible to this disease. However, there are also reports stated that domestic short-haired cats are more prone to this issue.

When it comes to ages, there’s no study stating the exact age when the cat is more prone to this disease. Sometimes this can happen to a very young kitten whereas sometimes it happens to a cat in median age.

However, if this happens to a very young kitty, the condition is called ‘juvenile onset’ and can happen to a 3-until-5-month old kitten. This can be getting severe when the cat is reaching 9-month old.

And for some medical conditions, cats that are known as immunosuppressed cats are more susceptible to this disease as well than those who aren’t. Immunosuppressed cats that develop gingivitis also have the tendency to make it more chronic as well.

Treatment of Gingivitis

treatment of gingivitis


When it comes to treatment, you should know that gingivitis cannot be cured by itself just by home remedies. You need to visit the vet as soon as you notice the signs. And the treatment will be adjusted to how severe the gingivitis is.

In early stages of gingivitis, the vet may only recommend you to clean the teeth daily at home. Plus, the vet will also remove the built up tarter by de-scaling the teeth. De-scaling teeth actually should be done regularly. It’s best to cure and prevent further issue of gingivitis.

In more advanced stages of gingivitis, your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine, like prednisone. Antibiotics and interferon plus any immune modulators will be needed as well. De-scaling is still performed.

If those treatments don’t seem to give any expected result, then the option left is extracting the affected tooth (or teeth).

Besides regular de-scaling, your vet will also advise you to routinely give your cat home dental care to clean the cat’s teeth. Brushing the cat’s teeth is necessary, especially if it’s in the case of plasmacytic lymphocytic stomatitis.

Remember, cats are the best in disguising pain and any discomfort. This will lead to false believe of many cat owners; thinking that their cats are fine, while actually they aren’t. This is the reason why checking to the vet regularly is highly recommended, even though your cat may seem just fine.

No one knows your cat is actually masking its discomfort. And you surely wouldn’t want the case has already got serious without the right treatment.

If the gingivitis is treated early and immediately, it is reversible. On the contrary, if you don’t notice it early and leave the disease untreated, it will lead to serious periodontal disease and the damage will be irreversible.

How to Prevent Gingivitis?

how to prevent gingivitis


Don’t worry, this disease can be prevented. The key is you have to make sure the tarter won’t build up. Gingivitis won’t happen if there’s no build up tarter. In order to keep your cat’s teeth always clean is by regularly brushing its teeth.

When brushing the cat’s teeth, always remember to NOT use human toothpaste and toothbrush. Your vet will prescribe the specifically-made toothbrush and toothpaste for cat. And like you, make sure your cat get their teeth brushed the same time you brush your teeth.

Next, you should also be careful when choosing the foods. Diets are important in preventing plaque and tarter build up. There are some special cat foods you can purchase or prescribed by the vet that don’t leave plaque in the cat’s teeth, like Hills T/D.

If you prefer feeding your cat with human’s foods instead of cat’s foods, raw chicken bones and necks somehow are the best options. However, this is still a controversial choice.

In Australia, for instance, feeding raw chicken bones to cats are highly recommended to avoid build up tarter and reduce plaque formation. However, there are other medical risks related to raw chicken bones to cats.

So to avoid any problem in the future, it’s best to discuss this with your vet, ask his/her opinion about feeding cat raw chicken food in order to prevent gingivitis. Your vet knows better. If she/he is against the idea, she/he will recommend other cat’s foods.

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