We never talk about dental disease in cats. It doesn’t make commercials and we don’t joke about it like we do “dog breath”, but cats actually get some very serious dental conditions. Not only are cats susceptible to tartar build up and dental infections, but cats commonly get painful resorptive lesions on their teeth as well. These lesions are so painful that even under anesthesia, touching the teeth will cause the jaw to twitch. Cats do not have very many teeth to begin with, only possessing 30 teeth compared to a dog’s 42. We should protect them as best we can.
Cats with dental disease rarely seem ill at all. Most continue to eat, drink, sleep, and play. Animals in the wild with no dental care will pretend to be normal until they can no longer hide it and then they slip away to die alone and your cat is not so far from her ancestors. She would prefer to do the same. We want better for the cats in our care. They are our friends and confidantes. It isn’t kind to let them suffer in silence and we are responsible for them.
Resorptive lesions are excruciating because they seem to expose raw nerves. Cats are very stoic about pain. Periodontal disease is no picnic either and some cats actually have both simultaneously. If there is infection in your cat’s mouth, it can impact other important body systems. Untreated dental disease will impact your cat’s life and you won’t even know it was your fault for not addressing it.
Just because you can’t see her pain does not mean that it is not there. Dental pain impacts your cat’s quantity and more importantly her quality of life. Every cat needs professional dental care and a plan for at-home treatment. Your veterinary team can tell you what should be done and when. They can even show you what to do at home and how. Ask your vet to look at your cat’s teeth and make sure you look too. Dental issues for cats are treatable. Don’t let your friend suffer in silence. She makes you smile so make sure her smile is pain-free.
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