Perhaps your recent trip to the dentist made you wonder about Kitty's dental health. If you've taken your first peek into her mouth, you may not know exactly what you're looking at and if she's healthy. Though it's easy to take for granted, her dental health affects her overall health.
Healthy Cat Gums
If you've never looked in Kitty's mouth, you'll want to proceed with caution -- you don't want to startle her and suffer a bite if she snaps in surprise. Face Kitty and gently push her lips back to take a look at her mouth. If her gums are healthy, they'll be firm and pink with no signs of swelling. Her teeth should be clean and show no signs of brownish tartar.
If Kitty's an orange cat, you may see some little spots, almost resembling fleas. This condition is called lentigo simplex, which is quite common in gingers. These spots are similar to freckles and you may also come across them around her eyelids or nose. Other cats can have spots too, and usually they're just spots of pigmentation. If you see spots on her teeth, or if the spots in her mouth are raised, consult the vet to ensure her teeth and gums are healthy.
Kittens may have inflamed gums for a month or two after growing their permanent teeth, but if Kitty's full-grown and has this issue, she may have gingivitis. Other signs of gingivitis are red or bleeding gums. Cats who are sick often show symptoms in the color of their gums. White gums can signal blood loss or shock; bright pink to red gums can indicate fever, illness or toxicity. If the red is around the teeth or gum line, it's more likely to indicate dental problems. Purple or blue gums can signal lack of oxygen and yellow-tinged gums often signal liver problems or other organ disease.
Healthy Gums and Teeth
Though it may sound strange, brushing Kitty's teeth is a good way to ensure her dental health. Not only will it decrease the chance of cavities and gingivitis, but it also helps keep tabs on her gums and overall oral health. Chew toys and dental treats can also help keep her teeth and gums healthy. If you're interested in learning about brushing her teeth, talk to the vet. Your vet can recommend an appropriate toothpaste -- yours won't work for Kitty -- and walk you through the process.
- Petside: My Cat's Gums Are Red around the Teeth-What Could This Be?
- Adelaide Animal Hospitals: Gum Colour and Your Cat's Health
- CatChannel.com: Normal Mouth Pigmentation
- Virtual Vet: 5-Year-Old Ginger Cat Grows Alarming Black Spots
- CatChannel.com: My Orange Cat Has Spots Around His Mouth
- WebMD: 10 Steps to Cat Dental Health
- Barbara Penoyar/Photodisc/Getty Images