Most Common Oral Diseases in Cats

Oral wellness is a fundamental part of good domestic feline health, as we're sure you already know. Here we´ll help you expand your knowledge on the subject with the most common oral diseases in cats.
Most Common Oral Diseases in Cats

Last update: 29 November, 2021

The mouth isn’t just the entry point for food into the body. Many animals, such as domestic felines, also depend on it to explore their environment, communicate, and defend themselves. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of the most common oral diseases in cats, because not only a cat’s feeding will be affected if there are problems in this area.

Oral health is an aspect that a cat’s quality of life depends on. In this article, you’ll have a list of the most common problems that appear in this area. Keep reading!

The most common oral diseases in cats

The diseases that you’re going to read about below cause cats a great deal of pain, and so they need veterinary care as soon as possible. Here you can learn how to detect them in time.

1. Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion

The origin of this disease is unknown to this day. In it, the cat’s body begins to absorb portions of tooth enamel (dentin) until the root is exposed. It’s a gradual process and causes the cat pain.

You can identify it with the naked eye, because it’s possible to observe red spots in the area and the teeth acquire a strange appearance. The treatment is generally through pain relief, although the extraction of a tooth by surgery may be recommended.

Oral diseases in cats.

2. Eosinophilic granuloma (labial ulcer)

This is the appearance of an ulcer in the area where the skin and buccal mucosa meet. It’s chronic, which means that it either doesn’t heal by itself or it appears repeatedly. It’s usually no more than a cosmetic problem, but if the ulcer spreads too far or deepens, then it can become uncomfortable for the animal.

It’s possible to treat the condition with cryotherapy or prednisolone (a corticosteroid), which gives good results after four weeks of treatment. However, the ulcer is most likely to recur, so it’s only treated when it causes pain.

3. Periodontal disease

This is one of the most common oral diseases in cats and up to 70% of the domestic population suffer from it after the age of 5 years. It consists of the affectation of the periodontal tissues by the accumulation of bacteria and tartar. It goes through several phases:

  1. Tartar: When bacteria in the cat’s mouth mix with food debris, dental plaque is formed, which remains stuck to the teeth. If it isn’t removed, tartar appears.
  2. Gingivitis: The proliferation of tartar affects the gums, causing redness, bleeding, pain, and inflammation. If it is not treated in time, the gum will recede as the bacteria deteriorate it.
  3. Periodontitis: This term is used to indicate that the infection has reached the bone that holds the tooth. This stage may require the removal of the teeth and there’s a danger of pus getting into the bloodstream through unintentional ingestion. The cat won’t want to eat.

This whole process can be prevented with proper oral hygiene and regular check-ups at the vet. Some cats are more prone to periodontal disease than others, so keep an eye on your cat’s mouth at all times.

4. Squamous cell carcinoma

This disease affects the oral mucosa and requires a differential diagnosis to distinguish it from eosinophilic granuloma, as they’re very similar at first glance. Carcinoma is a type of cancer that has an ulcerative appearance and creates masses of squamous tissue.

This disease mainly affects cats aged 9 years and older.

To make a correct diagnosis, a biopsy and other tests that determine the level of advancement of the cancer is necessary. It’s very painful for the feline, so it’ll refuse to eat and will often touch its paws to its mouth. If pathological signs are detected, it’s necessary to go to the vet urgently.

5. Cleft lip

Cleft lip is a congenital anatomical defect, i.e. it’s inherited genetically and is observed when the kitten has just been born. Depending on the degree of separation in the cleft palate, euthanasia may be necessary, as the kitten won’t be able to suckle, and surgery can’t be performed to close the gap.

6. Crown loss

This is another of the most common oral diseases in cats, as half of all adult felines have suffered from this problem at some time. It consists of the fall or separation of the dental crown of the root of the tooth.

It occurs due to a natural wear of the teeth, but sometimes it’s a secondary injury to periodontitis or an incorrect extraction of the piece. When the crown is lost, surgery is necessary to remove the root of the tooth, and this prevents future infections.

7. Feline calicivirus (FCV)

Some types of feline calicivirus only cause ulcerations in the mouth, specifically on the margin of the tongue, gums, palate and nose. Most commonly, however, these symptoms are accompanied by upper respiratory tract problems.

8. Trauma

Cats, although agile and quick, also suffer accidents. Most oral lesions in cats are due to blows to the area, whether from a fall, a fight with another animal, or the presence of foreign bodies in the mouth.

Symptoms will depend on the nature of the trauma and the area in which it occurs. The most general signs are refusal to eat, excessive drooling, bleeding, signs of pain, and sudden behavioral changes.

A cat with a toothbrush.

Prevention is the best approach

Preventing the most common oral diseases in cats is simple, although it requires some consistency in oral care. The best advice you can follow is to give your feline a quality dry cat food, as well as providing them with suitable toys and cleaning their teeth at least once a week.

Don’t forget to carry out annual check-ups and vaccinations for your feline. All this will contribute to perfect oral health without any pathological traits.

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