Feline Gingivitis

"Feline gingivitis is inflammation of the gums and surrounding areas. It occurs when bacteria or a virus accumulates in the mouth and takes hold in the gums. Symptoms include pain when chewing and drinking. Treatment includes antibiotics and for chronic cases surgery. Prevention involves good nutrition, oral care such as daily brushing of the teeth and for added support a homeopathic remedy."

Gingivitis refers to the inflammation of the gums in cats. Usually this particular disease is a chronic form of inflammation in the oral mucosa (includes the gums and other cells of the mouth). Feline gingivitis is characterized by oral pain, hyper salivation and anorexia in its initial stages, while tooth decay and severe secondary oral cavity infection occurs in chronic cases. More than 85% of cats older than age 4 have some form of gum or periodontal disease.

The disease may be caused by different bacteria or a viral infection which suppresses the cat's immune system such as feline panleukopenia. Treatment includes management of the symptoms and the underlying cause, appropriate nursing, and the use of antibiotics. It some cases surgery is required. Feline gingivitis can be prevented by a reduction of pre disposing factors and also by improving dental care and hygienic measures.

Causes of Feline Gingivitis:

The Oral cavity of cats (inside the mouth) is very sensitive and susceptible to several types of microbes. Various species of spirochetes and fusobacterium can cause gingivitis or inflammation of gums in cats. It is normal for these microbes to be present in the oral cavity. However, when there is Insufficient dental and oral care, these bacteria reproduce into a large population, resulting in acute inflammation of oral cavity.

Bacteria are not the only cause of gingivitis in cats. Viral infections like feline panleukopenia can initiate a low response in the oral cavity due to a suppressed immune system. The response takes the form of inflammation in the oral cavity.

There are some predisposing factors that are also responsible for gingivitis, such as nutrition. Cats that are fed more often and that are not cared for after meals on daily basis usually are more susceptible to inflammation.

Symptoms of Feline Gingivitis:

Oral pain, hyper salivation, and anorexia are common signs of gingivitis in cats. In severe cases cats may feel discomfort when chewing and even drinking. Gums will appear to be swollen, be red in color and may bleed from slight rubbing. It is possible that the cat will not be able to swallow food.

On clinical examination, the veterinarian will observe an inflammatory response in the oral mucosa, palate, pharynx and hind region of oral cavity.

Diagnosis of Cat Gingivitis:

Clinical signs and symptoms, feeding and dental care history all contribute to a diagnosis of gingivitis. In some cases where the entire oral cavity and the throat (pharynx) is involved, it must be differentiated from a disease called stomatitis syndrome (LPGS). Laboratory tests, and soft – tissue biopsy will be necessary to make a diagnosis in this case.

Treatment of Feline Gingivitis:

Identifying and controlling the cause of the disease is important, and should be followed as soon as the condition is diagnosed. Care and management of the gums with antiseptic and oral ointments is usually very effective. Regular brushing of teeth and improvement in nutrition improves the recovery rate.

Chronic cases are effectively treated with a drug, Methylprednisolone acetate, administered every 3 – 4 weeks, but it may have adverse effect, such as the development of diabetes in cats.

Antibiotics are very helpful in curing the bacterial infections. Topical application of ointments and creams containing antibiotics are more effective then general administration or through injection.

In chronic and more complicated cases of feline gingivitis, surgical treatment is preferred. Removal of debris, removal of decayed portions and root tips is the treatment of choice. This operation is very helpful in recovering from gingivitis and helps to prevent tooth decay is caught early.

Prevention of Cat Gingivitis:

Gingivitis can be prevented only by regular dental and oral care such as brushing your cat's teeth. Care includes nutrition, management, and a strict prohibition of self feeding by cats. Home care is usually through to be key for prevention.

There is also a homeopathic remedy available called Gums-n-Teeth that is made specifically to support the health of the teeth and gums in cats and to prevent gingivitis. It contains ingredients such as Spirulina (natural source of vitamin a which helps the teeth), Horsetail (natural silica for strong teeth), and Dandelion (promotes saliva production). The manufacturer provides the supporting clinical studies and is a good source of additional information on cat gingivitis.


The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health (Home Edition)