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Gingivitis in Cats

As with humans, dental problems can be very painful for your cat, yet, as many as 85% of cats over the age of three have some form of dental disease. Below, our Villa Rica vets discuss the signs of dental disease in cats, along with information on diagnosis and treatment.

Gingivitis & Cats

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums (gingiva) that surround your cat's teeth. The disease can range from moderate to severe, and in severe cases, cats with gingivitis may have difficulty eating and become very uncomfortable. To treat the condition, a tooth cleaning under anesthesia would be necessary. Plaque, a collection of germs, debris, dead skin cells, mucus, and food, can accumulate on the teeth and contribute to this dental problem, just as it does in humans.

Signs of Cats Gingivitis

Are you wondering whether your cat may have gingivitis or other dental conditions? Some of the most common signs of gingivitis in cats are:

  • Difficulty eating or not eating at all
  • Difficulty picking up toys or food
  • Bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums, especially around the area of the inner cheek
  • Drooling
  • Calculi/tartar
  • Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth

Causes of Gingivitis in Cats

The development of gingivitis in cats can result from a number of different conditions including: 

  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Old age
  • Soft Food
  • Bad Dental Care
  • FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
  • Crowded teeth

Diagnosis of Gingivitis in Cats

Cats are extremely good at hiding their pain. This means that your cat may not show any signs of discomfort, even if they are suffering from severe oral pain. Even cats who eat normally and are active can develop serious dental disease. Bringing your cat in for an annual routine exam is critical for detecting dental disease, as a veterinarian can often identify signs of conditions while observing an animal and checking for the symptoms listed above.

How to Treat Cat Gingivitis

Gingivitis treatment for cats focuses on eliminating accumulated plaque and dental calculus, as well as treating or extracting destabilized and/or diseased teeth. To address any inflammatory dental disease, routine tooth cleanings and dental X-rays should be conducted under anesthetic.

For cats suffering from stomatitis to have a comfortable mouth, their teeth are frequently extracted by a veterinarian if it is called for.

The frequency of dental checkups will be determined by the degree of periodontal disease in your cat. If your adult cat's teeth are overcrowded, or if it has baby (deciduous) teeth, your veterinarian may recommend a tooth extraction. Your veterinarian will show you how to clean your cat's teeth, and you should schedule follow-up exams.

Maintaining Your Cat's Teeth

Pet supply stores sell cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste, which can help prevent gingivitis. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently so that cats get used to it.

Get your cat familiar with toothbrushes and toothpaste

Leave snacks on the counter near the toothpaste and toothbrush to help cats associate them with something positive. You can also give them a dab of toothpaste to lick off your finger until they get used to it.

Get your cat used to you touching their mouth

Choose a dental treat your cat enjoys and apply it to their canine teeth. As they become accustomed to it, gradually place it deeper into their mouth and on their teeth. This gets them used to you touching their mouth, making it easier to introduce toothpaste.


Brushing your cat's teeth should be easier now that they're used to the toothbrush, toothpaste, and you touching their mouth. Brush the gum line for 15 to 30 seconds on the outside of the teeth, then reward them with a treat.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Contact our Villa Rica vets at Villa Rica Animal Hospital to learn more or to book a dental appointment for your cat.

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