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Top 10 Cat Dental Questions…and the Answers Part II!

March 7, 2015

Welcome to Part II of our series on cat dental health. If you missed the first part or need a refresher, you can find it here: Top 10 Cat Dental Questions…and the Answers! Let’s continue with more important questions about feline dental care.

4. Why are cat bites so bad and likely to get infected?

Anyone who’s worked with and handled enough cats knows that when you’re bitten by a cat, not only does it hurt like you-know-what but those deep puncture wounds are likely to become infected or abscessed. The first answer lies within the unique anatomy of one of a cat’s main weapons – those long, sharp, pointy canines. Designed similar to hypodermic needles, these teeth excel at penetrating flesh intensely, damaging underlying structures such as arteries and veins. In addition, like that needle, they carry pathogenic bacteria deep inside the body. As the tooth is withdrawn, the narrow puncture wound closes onto itself, trapping behind infection that later becomes an abscess. Making matters worse, a cat’s mouth contains several species of highly pathogenic microorganisms. This is why whenever a cat bites a veterinary staff member , they go to the physician’s office immediately to begin a course of antibiotics. There are true accounts of people being bitten in the hand by stray cats they were attempting to rescue. The bite is so tiny, it is thought that it will be fine. These rescuers risk losing their hand. The bite can lead to a trip to the hospital for intensive intravenous antibiotics and a couple of days there; as well as, possibly, a permanent impairment. Don’t take a chance if you’re bitten. Flush the wound thoroughly and seek medical attention immediately.

5. Can cats re-grow their teeth? Do their teeth keep growing their entire lives?

No and no. Sharks are probably the animal you’re thinking of. After a cat gets all 30 permanent teeth in place, that’s it. No more. Lose one and your cat is forever down to 29. Unlike rodents, a cat’s teeth don’t keep on growing. If they did, a lot of kitties would be pretty intimidating and their canines would be dragging the ground by now…

6. Do cats need braces?

You jest but some cats do, in fact, need braces to correct some very severe oral malformations. The most common reasons for feline brace-face include lance or saber-like canine projections of the upper canines in Persian cats. “Wry bite” is another problem that results when an uneven bite occurs, causing one or both canines to protrude at odd angles, preventing normal eating and drinking. Braces for cats aren’t for cosmetic but literally life-saving conditions.

7. My vet said my cat had some painful tooth problem that may require extraction of several teeth. Is this legit?

Your cat may be one of the millions of cats affected by an unusual, exceptionally common and extremely painful condition known most often as feline ondoclastic resorptive lesions, or FORLs. Most cats with FORLs are over five years old. The most common clinical signs associated with FORLs include excessive salivation, bleeding from the gum line or teeth, and difficulty eating. Many patients will suddenly become “picky” and refuse to eat dry kibble. There are many treatments available, but extraction is still the most commonly performed procedure to relieve this excruciating condition. The exact cause of FORLs has yet to be determined, although researchers are actively pursuing several theories. If your cat is experiencing dental issues, our Veterinary Dentistry service can provide expert care and treatment options for conditions like FORLs and other dental problems.

Contact us, your local animal hospital in Peterborough, ON!