Gingivitis in cats: the importance of keeping your cat’s teeth and gums healthy
The suffix ‘itis’ means inflammation, and gingivitis is simply inflammation of the gingiva – the gum pockets that hold the teeth securely in place. Gingivitis in cats is a painful condition with a number of possible causes.
The condition can spread to other parts of the mouth, making eating very uncomfortable and sore for your cat, so it’s important to get treatment fast.
Let’s look at the causes, symptoms and treatment of gingivitis in cats.
The most common cause of gingivitis in cats is a build-up of plaque and bacteria. Other causes include:
- Bartonella bacteria
- Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
- Feline calicivirus (FCV)
- Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)
- Kidney disease
- A low-fibre diet
Spotting the symptoms of gingivitis in cats
The signs and symptoms of gingivitis in cats include:
- Red, swollen gums
- Build-up of plaque
- Bad breath
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Discomfort, especially when eating (although most cats will hide all but severe pain)
If you spot any of these signs or symptoms, make an appointment with your local vet right away. Treatment of gingivitis has a far greater chance of success when the condition is caught early.
“It’s important to get treatment fast as gingivitis can quickly spread to other parts of the mouth, making eating uncomfortable and sore for your cat.”
Treatment for gingivitis involves cleaning to remove the build-up of plaque and tartar – much like a scale and polish when you go to the dentist. Your vet may also polish your cat’s teeth, which helps to prevent the plaque from returning.
Before cleaning your cat’s teeth, your vet may prescribe appropriate pain relief and/or antibiotics to temporarily control any inflammation in your cat’s mouth.
If your veterinarian spots the signs of any underlying conditions, such as feline leukaemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), or feline calicivirus (FCV), he or she will talk to you about management or treatment of the condition.
If there is no underlying cause, your vet will recommend a thorough annual clean of your cat’s teeth, along with regular brushing at home – see our article for tips on keeping your cat’s teeth clean.
Want advice on gingivitis in cats?
For expert advice on cat gingivitis and other gum health issues, contact your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.