Teeth And Gum Disease In Cats:
Mouth Inflammation Or Infection:

Viral infections bone stuck between the teeth or in the gums, lack of chewing on natural foods, poor oral hygiene, and metabolic diseases such as kidney failure casue painful stomatitis, leading to bad breath and caution when eating.  Treatment:  Foreign objects - such as fish bones - are removed, and dental conditions corrected.  Secondary bacterial infection is common, so your vet will usually prescribe antibiotics.

Foreign Objects:

Cat enjoy playing with thread, but this can wrap around the tongue.  Foreign bodies - such as a needle on the end of thread - can lodge at the back of the throat or stomach.  A cat with something in its throat gags, paws anxiously at its mouth, and may drool or vomit.  Treatment: If you see thread but cannot see where it ends, do not pull on it.  See your vet at once.

Mouth Tumors:

Oral tumors are not uncommon in older cats.  They may occur in the jaw, on the tongue, or in the roof of the mouth.  Jaw tumors must be differentiated from jawbone infection, which occurs as a result of untreated tooth-root infection.  Any mouth swelling and bad breath should be checked by your vet immediately.
gum diseases in cat & cat tooth anatomy
Quick Guide To Mouth And Teeth Problems In Your Cat:
Problem:        Possible Causes:        See Vet:
Slow or selective eating

Eating with head tilted

Difficulty opening the mouth

Drooling Saliva


Bad Breath
Any mouth condition that causes pain

Pain on one side of the mouth

Head, jaw, or neck injury; tumor, abscess, foreign body

Most mouth and gum diseases, foreign object, rabies, excess heat, tumor, saliva cyst, heat injury

Foreign object, tumor

Periodontal disease, foreign object, viral or metabolic disease
Within 24 hrs

Within 24 hrs

Same day

Same day


Within 24 hrs
Gum Disease (aka Gingivitis) In Cats:

At some point, most cats will develop gum diseases (gingivitis), brought on by poor dental hygeine and viral infections.  Common signs are bad breath, and a red line bordering the teeth.  Early treatment prevents the development of more serious periodontal disease.

Severe mouth ulcers and gum disease may also be caused by kidney failure.  In older cats, check kidney function before embarking on any dental treatment.  Treatment: The aims are to eliminate pain and infection, produce a healthy attachment between the gums and teeth, and prolong the use and function of the teeth.  Teeth are scaled and polished.  Those teeth with "neck lesions", the equivalent of cavities in humans, are best removed.

Tooth-Root Abscess:

Upper premolars are most susceptible to abscesses. An abscess initially causes swelling under the eye.  Eventually the abscess breaks through the skin.  Pus and blood drain out, often lessening the pain.  Treatment: Usually the tooth is removed.
Also see Cat Grooming: Teeth Care
The teeth and mouth are not only used by your cat to eat.  They are also used for defense, grooming, exploring, playing, and much more.  Therefore, they are vulnerable to a wide variety of potential problems.
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Anatomy of a cat's tooth.
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