How often do you check your cat’s mouth? Never? Well, maybe you should do it sometime. Does your kitty have bleeding, sore gums? Does its breath have a nasty smell? Do you notice your cat lose appetite and lose weight? All of those can be signs of one or more dental diseases.
Although Siberian cats are a very healthy and sturdy breed, they can and sometimes do have dental issues. And just like in humans, an unnoticed or untreated dental problem can turn into a big pain in the gum, both physically for your cat and financially – for you. Even if your cat doesn’t display any signs of discomfort or pain, remember – cats will try to hide their pain by any means. They rarely display discomfort, even when they are in pain because in wild nature, displaying pain would mean they are weak and would put them in danger.
Your kitty might not know they are completely safe in your house, and even if they do, they still act according to their natural instinct. You may never know that your cat has a health problem unless you look.
What can there be wrong with your kitty’s teeth?
Just like humans, Siberian cats can have gingivitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum. If your cat has red bleeding gums, it might have gingivitis.
Gingivitis is caused by bacteria that thrive on tiny food particles lodged in your cat’s gums and between its teeth. Because your cat doesn’t brush its teeth, that bacteria can grow in unhealthy amounts and cause inflammation. Gingivitis can also be caused by a virus that predisposes your cat to gingivitis. One type of such viruses is calicivirus. Sometimes, cats are vaccinated against this virus as part of a standard set of vaccinations, in which case they will be protected against it. If your cat hasn’t been vaccinated against calicivirus, you can test your cat at the vet’s to see if it has the virus. Your vet will let you know about your options to treat it if positive.
Gingivitis can also be caused (or exacerbated) if you feed your cat food to which it is allergic. Siberian cats are often allergic to foods that are highly processed and have a high amount of carbs, particularly grains. Never feed your cat, an obligate carnivore, foods that contain grains! Some vets state that you can majorly clean up the cat’s gingivitis simply by taking away foods with allergens and getting your kitty on a fully natural diet of only meat-containing foods. Avoid dry foods. Dry foods are not good for cats. They are usually full of carbohydrates, preservatives, taste and smell enhancers and artificial colors. All of those may be a reason for your cat’s allergy. Also, contrary to popular myth, dry foods DO NOT help your cat “brush” its teeth. It’s just not true.
If not treated, your cat’s gingivitis can progress to worse diseases such as periodontal disease or stomatitis. It is also associated with a possible onset of other bacterial and virus diseases in cats.
The best way to protect your kitty and prevent the disease or stop its development is to take your cat to the vet regularly. A vet will always check your pet’s teeth and will be able to see if there is anything wrong.
If your Siberian cat has gingivitis, your vet might suggest professional teeth cleaning, which is done with anesthesia (of course, discuss the potential harm of anesthesia for your cat and see if you can mitigate its effects). Brushing your cat’s teeth regularly can also help (see below for more advice on brushing your cat’s teeth.)
Another inflammatory disease a cat could have is stomatitis or Feline Lymphocytic Plasmacytic Stomatitis. Stomatitis is a severe, painful inflammation of the cat’s mouth and gums, that causes the development of ulcers in cat’s mouth. Although the two conditions are similar, stomatitis tends to be more grave than gingivitis. It can be a minor nuisance at the very early stages and can grow to a life-threatening disease as it progresses.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what causes stomatitis in cats. Some of the causes can be dental disease, some other inflammatory conditions, and certain viruses.
One of the signs of stomatitis in cats is bad breath. Another is red, inflamed gums. Sometimes a cat with stomatitis will drool excessively, often with blood. Affected cats will also display diminished appetite, weight loss, lethargy, pawing and clawing at their face (as they experience tooth pain). Sometimes the gums get swollen which makes it harder for a cat to swallow food. Stomatitis develops differently in every cat and has various effects on a cat depending on the severity of the disease, the cat’s overall health, and their pain tolerance. Usually, stomatitis does result in painful and sometimes extremely painful teeth.
A vet might be able to say if your cat has stomatitis after a visual inspection of its mouth. However, sometimes the cat will not allow anyone to open its mouth as its already very painful. In this case, sedation is often needed. An X-ray, a blood test, and a tissue test might also provide some valuable information for your vet and help them understand how far the disease has progressed.
As a treatment, your vet might recommend medical therapy or surgery. Medical therapy can maintain your cat’s oral health for a while and temporarily slow down the development of the disease. However, the long-term prognosis is usually not good. The surgery will involve removing affected teeth and is usually very effective in sparing the cat from discomfort and pain. As further steps to control stomatitis and periodontal disease, your vet might recommend antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.
How to brush your Siberian cat’s teeth
Your vet might also recommend brushing your cat’s remaining teeth to maintain good bacterial balance in your cat’s mouth and not let plague collect on the teeth. Brushing your cat’s teeth can be a good thing to do to prevent any dental-related diseases as well. You don’t have to do it every day, but a few times a week could be good, or even once a week if you can. You will need a special cat-sized toothbrush and cat toothpaste that you can buy at a pet store, at the vet’s or online. Don’t brush your cat’s teeth with human toothpaste. The chemicals in it, while safe for humans, might not be safe for your cat! Cat toothpaste is fully safe and has taste and smell of fish and meat which is attractive for the cat.
Once you have the tools, make your kitty comfortable by holding him or her on your lap and petting them. Once they seem comfortable, lift their lip gently and touch their gums. If they let you do that, you can start gently brushing their teeth, trying to dislodge any pieces of food stuck anywhere. Once done, you don’t have to rinse your cat’s mouth. It can safely swallow the toothpaste which it will 🙂
If you have a little Siberian kitten, the earlier you start them on the habit of brushing teeth, the better. It’s much easier than trying to persuade an adult cat to let you brush their teeth!
Brushing your cat’s teeth regularly will help it keep its mouth clean, prevent bad smell and hopefully prevent or slow down dental diseases!