Mouth Diseases in Cats

by Eleanor McKenzie, Demand Media Google
    Feeding her dry cat food helps prevent dental disease.

    Feeding her dry cat food helps prevent dental disease.

    Pity poor Kitty when she has a problem with her mouth or teeth; she can't enjoy her food for a start, and if she isn't treated she'll become underweight. Diagnosis and treatments for dental issues are fairly straightforward, but other mouth diseases require investigation of an underlying condition.

    Signs of Mouth Diseases

    It's not always easy to spot a mouth disease until it's well-developed. Apart from a lack of interest in eating, The Feline Advisory Bureau states that signs to look out for are: difficulty chewing when she does eat, dropping food from her mouth and problems with swallowing. You might also notice excessive drooling and an unpleasant smell from her breath. Behaviorally, she may shake her head and paw at her face, as if she's trying to get rid of something. If you notice any of these, take her to the vet for a diagnosis, because until he discovers and treats the underlying cause of her mouth disease, her symptoms won't improve.

    Mouth Ulcers and Inflammation

    Eosinophilic granuloma is a condition that cause sores and ulcers around your cat's lips. The ulcerous spots usually appear around the canine tooth or the cleft in the center of your cat's mouth. Often these ulcers don't cause any discomfort or prevent her from eating, unless the ulcers are deep. Eosinophils are white blood cells that inflame a site while fighting an infection. Often the condition resolves spontaneously, but if the eosinophils can't clear the infection, the inflammation stays. That's when your cat needs treatment, usually with a course of the steroid prednisone.
    Feline calcivirus also produces mouth ulcers, usually on the surface and edges of the tongue, while feline viral rhinotracheitis is a more severe disease that causes inflammation of the throat and tonsils, as does the cat flu virus.

    Dental Problems

    The kind of dental decay that is common in people is rare in cats. However, tartar build up, abscesses and gingivitis are more prevalent, especially as a cat ages. An abscess forms at the root of a tooth and if your cat has one, she'll need the tooth extracted. Tartar builds up around the juncture of teeth and gums, creating a nice place for bacteria to develop. If you catch it early on, your vet can perform a simple descaling treatment under anesthetic. If the tartar isn't removed, the bacteria inflames the gum, leading to gingivitis, a gum disease, which if not kept in check leads to periodontitis --an infected tooth root -- and pyorrhea, a discharge of pus from the gum.

    Cancers

    Frequently, the visible signs of a mouth cancer develop around the lips, making a cancer difficult to distinguish from an eosinophilic granuloma. So if you spot a lump, take your furry friend to the vet, especially if she's also drooling excessively, or you notice blood and mucus coming from the lump. VetInfo also suggests watching out for unexpected tooth loss as a possible sign, along with difficulty eating and excessive sleepiness. Your vet will take a skin biopsy to find out whether the tumor is benign.

    About the Author

    Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images