As cats grow older, their risk of dental issues including cavities, gum disease, and missing teeth increases. These conditions are painful for the cat, and they can interfere with his ability to eat properly. Therefore, as a pet owner, it is important to watch out for the following signs of dental issues as your cat enters his golden years.
Cats with gum disease and tooth decay may sometimes drool excessively. You may notice a stream of drool coming out of the corner of your cat's mouth. Sometimes this only happens after eating, and other times, it is more ongoing. The excessive drool helps soothe the cat's sore mouth tissues.
There are a number of strange eating behaviors that may indicate your cat is suffering from tooth decay or another dental issue:
- Tilting the head to one side while chewing
- Suddenly refusing to eat dry food and only eating wet food
- Only eating one or two bites, and then walking away from the food
- Yelping or meowing while eating
- Pawing at the food, but only taking a bite or two
You should not notice a healthy cat's breath. If your cat's breath smells rotten and repulsive, this is a sure sign of dental issues. Some cats' saliva may also take on a terrible odor, which you may notice after your cat licks something. The bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay are very smelly; this is what you're detecting.
Cats with dental issues may not let you pet their heads or under their chins. This is painful for them, as it puts pressure on their sore jaws and teeth. Your cat may just pull away when you try to rub in these areas, or he may respond with a yelp or by swatting your hand away with his paw.
Nasal discharge has a number of possible causes, but one of these is tooth decay. The bacteria that cause the tooth decay can work their way into the sinus, leading to nasal discharge. Your vet can run some tests to determine if your cat's discharge is related to tooth decay or some other problem, like allergies or a viral infection.
If your cat is showing signs of dental issues, don't ignore them. Take your cat to the veterinarian, who will use treatments such as dental extraction, tooth cleaning, and antibiotics to make your cat comfortable again.