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Gingivitis in Cats - Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Gingivitis in Cats - Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

While gingivitis is common in cats, it's a very painful condition for our feline friends to suffer from. In this post, our Queens veterinarians share signs and causes, along with facts on how the disease is diagnosed and treated. 

What is gingivitis in cats?

gingivitis is a form of gum disease that can trigger inflammation of the gums or gingiva that surround the teeth.

This condition may range from moderate to severe. In more serious cases, cats with gingivitis may have problems eating and become quite uncomfortable. To remedy the disease, your vet will need to perform a tooth cleaning while your cat is under anesthesia. 

Similar to people, plaque - an accumulation of germs, dead skin cells, debris, food, and mucus - can build up on the teeth and contribute to this oral health issue. 

Signs of Gingivitis in Cats 

Common signs of gingivitis in cats include:

  • Bad breath 
  • Red or swollen gums, particularly around the area of the inner cheek 
  • Caculi/tartar 
  • Drooling 
  • Challenges eating or not eating at all 
  • Difficulty picking up toys or food 
  • Plaque buildup on the surface of the teeth 

Causes of Gingivitis in Cats 

Common causes of gingivitis in cats are: 

  • Poor dental care 
  • Soft food 
  • Crowded teeth 
  • Autoimmune diseases 
  • Old age 
  • Autoimmune diseases 
  • FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)

Diagnosis of Gingivitis in Cats

Since cats can be quite skilled at hiding their pain from others, they may not actually show any signs fi discomfort until they are already in severe oral pain. Even cats who are eating normally and showing regular levels of activity may be experiencing a serious dental disease.

Bringing your cat in for their annual routine exam is essential to the detection of dental disease, as a vet is often able to identify signs of conditions while observing an animal and checking for symptoms listed above. 

Treatment for Cats with Gingivitis

Gingivitis treatments focus on the elimination of plaque that has built up alongside dental calculus on your cat's teeth, below their gums and around their mouth. Treatment will also involve the extraction of destabilized or diseased teeth if required. 

To address any inflammatory dental disease, routine tooth cleanings and dental X-rays should be conducted under anesthetic.

For cats suffering from stomatitis to have a comfortable mouth, their teeth are frequently extracted by a veterinarian if it is called for.

The frequency of dental checkups will be determined by the degree of periodontal disease in your cat. If your adult cat's teeth are overcrowded, or if it has baby (deciduous) teeth, your veterinarian may recommend a tooth extraction. Your veterinarian will show you how to clean your cat's teeth, and you should schedule follow-up exams.

Maintaining Your Cat's Teeth

Cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste are available for purchase at pet supply stores and can help avoid gingivitis. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently so that cats become accustomed to it.

Get your cat familiar with toothbrushes and toothpaste

Leave snacks on the counter near the toothpaste and toothbrush so cats can associate something positive with them. You can also place a dab of toothpaste for them to lick off your finger so they get accustomed to it.

Get your cat used to you touching their mouth

Choose a dental treat your cat enjoys and place it on their canine teeth. As they become accustomed to it, start placing it deeper and deeper into their mouth, on their teeth. This gets them used to you touching their mouth and makes it easier for you to introduce the toothpaste.


Once you can get your cat used to toothbrushing, toothpaste and touching their mouth, it should be easier to brush their teeth routinely. Make sure you brush along their gum line for 15 to 30 seconds (depending on your cat's tolerance) only on the outside of their teeth. Make sure you reward your cat with a treat afterward. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you worried about your cat's oral health? Contact our veterinary team in Queens for a consultation and potential treatment options.

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