Sunday 3 October 2021

Health tip: checking your cat for gum disease

A lot of cat owners are understandably unaware of the state of health of their cat's gums and teeth. You might get a glimpse of your cat's gums when they yawn but it might not be enough. And the upper outside area of the gums, at the back, is where gum disease can often start. The same, by the way, applies to people. 

If you want to reduce bleeding gums when you brush your teeth you should always focus strongly on the outside upper at the back of the mouth and eventually the bleeding will go away. In addition, you should use a good mouthwash occasionally. 

I'm digressing but the same problem exists with domestic cats and it is perhaps the single biggest reason why domestic cats are put under a general anaesthetic. In fact, Dr. Bruce Fogle in his book Complete Cat Care states that "I anaesthetize more cats to treat the tooth and gum disease than for any other single reason".

Use cotton buds to check for blood on cat gums
Use cotton buds to check for blood on cat gums. Photo: Words added.

Certainly, gum disease and dental health is in the top 10 or perhaps top five of all domestic cat health problems. It is, therefore, important to check gum health from time to time. Bruce Fogle states that an easy way to check your cat's teeth and gums regularly "is by running a cotton bud around the gum line". This means gently placing a cotton bud under the cheek against the gums around the upper teeth at the rear of the mouth, as mentioned. A cat should accept this especially as it can be done quickly. If you encounter blood or signs of pain you should take your cat to your veterinarian.

Sometimes veterinarians say that you can check oral health by bad breath but this is rather vague. Also, bad breath can be caused by kidney, liver disease, feline leukaemia or by a bowel infection. Indeed a foreign body such as a bone stuck in the mouth or on oral tumour and older cats can cause bad breath. So the cotton bud check is a good one. I would recommend it.

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