CHESAPEAKE, Va. — The most significant disease that house cats face is dental disease. Up to 90 percent of cats four years or older are going to have some type of significant dental problem.
"Cats are very stoic, so they don't like to show us signs of disease, so it's rare that they are going to bite oddly or chew funny or something you are going to pick up because they are very stealthy and often they are nocturnal so they are doing a lot of that at night," said Veterinarian Denette Cooke of Cooke Veterinary Medical Center.
Bad breath, lack of eating, sensitivity around their mouth and super red gums, are all signs of feline dental disease.
The three main causes of dental disease are gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth resorption. Cooke explained what each stage looks like.
Gingivitis: "The red puffy swollen area of the gums and the reason that gets there is because there is bacteria on the teeth, and so that bacteria turns to plaque, the plaque then turns into tarter and as the tarter sits there, it's full of bacteria."
Periodontitis: This is when there's a breakdown of the connective tissue fibers that are holding the tooth in the socket.
"Once we start to break that down and the tooth is not being held in the socket well, that tooth becomes loose and mobile, that's irreversible. There's nothing we can do to make that better."
Tooth Resorption: "That's like a big honking cavity. Like you have a Pacman walking thru, eating at the enamel and so it basically turns the tooth into swiss cheese."
Ouch! So what's the best solution to prevent this from happening to your cat? Taking them to the vet ASAP. After that initial check-up, the doctor will let you know if at-home brushing is a good idea. If a cat toothbrush doesn't work, try a finger brush and always use feline specific toothpaste.
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