Your cat is now eating a high protein diet, current on his vaccines according to his lifestyle and properly protected against external and internal parasites. After social maturity, especially on a soft food diet, paying attention to care of teeth becomes part of cat care. As part of the annual visits, kitty permitting, accumulated tartar can be scrapped from the teeth. Preventing periodontal disease can substantially increase the quality and quantity of your cat’s life. It is one of the most important elements in preserving kidney function in the aging cat and can prevent heart and digestive disease as well. The chronic infection in the mouth destroys precious kidney tissue that cannot be replaced, leading to CRF or chronic renal failure. While the natural aging process of cats seems to eventually lead them down the path of eventual CRF, more cats are sent there prematurely due to periodontal disease then any other factor. Cats start to require more dental care around 5 or 6 years of age when they may need their first “full” or anesthesia assisted dental when a complete cleaning and detailed examination takes place.
A common condition, FORLs or Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions, are extraordinary types of ‘cavities’, which occur in cats at any age. They are not cavities in the strict sense, but a process, which results in absorption of the tooth along the gum line. This condition is extremely painful once the pulp cavity is entered. Cat’s with these lesions eventually start eating less, or become picky eaters, show behavioral changes, or become reclusive. Extracting these teeth ultimately relieves the symptoms.
Cats recover rapidly and readily from tooth extractions—their healing rate has been estimated at three times that of a human. An owners concern about tooth loss should be weighed in the following context: The canine teeth are required for catching and holding prey and we have already done that for them. The carnassials are used to slice the meat off the bone and (witness the variety of treats, kibble and canned diets) we have already done that as well. Cat’s don’t chew food, having no ‘chewing teeth’ per se, so pulling teeth does not pose any hardship on their capacity to continue to ingest and enjoy the nutritious bounty you provide them morning and night. They do, however, greatly benefit from freedom from pain.