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For predators the perfect condition of their teeth and gums is of an utmost importance. Over thousands of years of evolution, they have developed their own mechanisms of maintaining the oral cavity in ‘operative condition’. Contrary to popular belief, dry food does not help to strengthen gums and teeth in cat, nor does it prevent the formation of tartar. The normal functioning of the immune system is also essential. An attentive guardian should always be observing if there is some unusual stuff on cat’s tongue, which may be a sign of various disruptions.
The oral cavity, especially the space between the teeth and gums, is in constant contact with the external microbes. Bacteria do inhabit the gastrointestinal tract along its entire length, including the oral cavity, but these bacteria are not harmful if the animal is healthy. It is the immune system that prevents bacteria from infecting the internal organs (in a certain sense, the digestive tract is also an “external system”, as it communicates directly with the elements of an external environment).
Upon weakening of the immune system the process of infection contamination begins, and begins it with the gums. With further deterioration of the function of the immune system, an inflammatory process of the gums (gingivitis) develops with all the symptoms of inflammation.
In the process of evolution, the felines have adapted themselves to the fresh-caught prey while at the same time having lost the ability to detoxify a number of harmful substances. It is possible that their special sensitivity to various foods is due to this factor. Scientists believe that the strongest gum inflammation in cats is a peculiar manifestation of scurvy. However, in response to an increases vitamin C in the diet, cats do not develop as rapid a reaction as in humans, possibly due to the fact that in humans the detoxification processes are much better developed than in felines. Moreover, the immune system in cats is weakened by vaccination.
Symptoms of the disease are the same as in pharyngitis, but the body temperature is much higher, up to 39.4 ° C and even higher and the cat’s condition is much worse. As a rule, the disease is of a bacterial nature. The treatment is the same as for pharyngitis. Keep the cat on a liquid diet. Administer penicillin antibiotics for ten days. Tonsillectomy is recommended in case of recurrent tonsillitis and if the condition interferes with breathing and swallowing.
Jacob’s (Rodent) Ulcer
In most cases, the ulcer first appears in the middle of the upper lip. The animal suffers neither itching nor pain. As the ulceration increases, a large defect of the lips exposes the teeth and gums. Over time, the ulcer can transform into a malignant tumor or fibrosarcoma. The cause is unknown. In some cases, it is associated with dental infections. All cats with Jacobs ulcers should be checked for leukemia. The treatment has to be carried out under the supervision of a veterinarian. Since this is a potentially precancerous disease, intensive therapy should be started as early as possible.
The wounds of the oral mucosa are quite common in felines, especially after cat fights and bites of other animals. Some animals may injure themselves – a cat may bite its lip, as it happens sometimes in humans. To stop the bleeding use clean gauze or a tissue. Puncture wounds can get infected, and therefore must be treated as soon as possible. While the wound is healing, the cat’s mouth should be rinsed 2 times a day with a weak antiseptic solution.
Infectious inflammation of the tongue is called glossitis. It is often the case with immunodeficiency states, such as feline leukemia, feline viral immunodeficiency syndrome and a some of the feline viral respiratory diseases. Burns, frostbite, abrasions, wounds, cuts can also become infected. A cat with an inflamed tongue has an unkempt appearance, the coat on the front of its neck is damp due to excessive salivation or foamy discharge from the mouth, and it refuses to eat due to severe pain. There may be white stuff on the cat’s tongue which is in fact nothing but a bacterial patch, or black stuff on cat tongue, which is likely a sign of burn. By way of a treatment, rinse the cat’s mouth twice a week with a weak solution (1-2%) of hydrogen peroxide. Twice a day administer antibiotics, for example, ampicillin. Since pains makes eating almost impossible, soak the food for the cat until of a liquid consistency.
This disease often occurs as a result of periodontitis (inflammation of the dental root periosteum) and infectious diseases of the oral cavity. Common injuries can also lead to inflammation. Treatment. Bathe the affected area with 1: 5 diluted hydrogen peroxide and administer an ointment containing antibiotic and steroids (neocort), 2 times a day. When the inflammation subsides, grease the affected lip with petroleum jelly to make the skin soft and supple.
In this case, the oral mucous membrane is reddened, swollen, sore, the gums bleed easily, there is a heavy unpleasant odor coming from the mouth. The cat does not take care of its coat and looks sloppy. This condition is called stomatitis, or inflammation of the oral mucosa. As the disease progresses, painful ulcers appear.
Treatment. Under anesthesia, the veterinarian performs oral cavity sanitation and removes tartar and/or peccant teeth. Ulcers are cauterized with silver nitrate solution. The inflammation is to be stopped with antibiotics. Also large doses of B vitamins and antifungal drugs, such as nystatin, are recommended. It is extremely important to treat all underlying diseases.
Any solid tumor in the mouth of a pet should be taken very seriously. Most tumors in the oral area are cancerous, therefore be sure to show the cat to a veterinarian as soon as may be.
Throat Inflammation (Pharyngitis)
Pharyngitis in cats is extremely rare. In most cases, the disease is caused by a common viral infection in the oral disease. The condition is accompanied by fever, coughing, nausea, sore throat and consequent loss of appetite. It is advisable to contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Foreign Bodies in the Oral Cavity and Pharynx
Fragments food or small bones, wooden chips, needles and pins, fishing hooks and prickles of plants – literally anything can get stuck in the mouth of an overly curious pet. Those maycut deep into the lips, tongue, gums and palate, get stuck between the teeth. The cat may have a coughing fit, choking on the stuck object. It often licks its lips or rubs them on the floor, being unable to close its mouth properly. There may be excessive drooling, too. Sometimes the only signs are weakness, refusal to food, unpleasant breath, general malaise and heavy panting. If you suspect this to be the case, open the cat’s mouth and you will detect the cause. You can immediately remove a foreign body, but a restless animal must first be given a sedative or an anesthetic. If a foreign body enters the pharynx and the passage of air is disturbed, it is necessary to immediately contact a veterinarian.
Preventive measures. Do not let the cat play with small, easily breakable objects. Chicken and tubular bones are a potential danger.
Tumors and Cysts
A cyst can form in any salivary gland, but most often it occurs in the submandibular gland. In this case, the cyst is large, smooth and plump, located under the tongue. Less often the cyst happens on a pharynx wall.Large mucous cysts interfere with swallowing and breathing. When a cyst is punctured, a thick, mucus-like, honey-colored substance is oozing. Sometimes this is enough for complete recovery, but most often the condition requires the surgical removal of the gland. Tumors of the salivary glands are extremely rare, and mainly occur in senior cats and in most cases, they are cancerous. They look like dense, slowly growing bumps on the neck or side of the muzzle. If the tumor is removed before its metastasis stage, the cat usually recovers.
Local disease (often accompanying periodontite). Usually is accompanied by an unpleasant smell coming from the mouth of a cat. There are acute and chronic types of gingivitis. Reddened, as if bleeding, gums are a sure sign of gingivitis.
There are many causes of gum disease. From infectious cases such as feline calicivirus and immunodeficiency syndrome to chemical irritation and gum trauma. In addition, susceptibility to the development of tartar and oral diseases in general is often transmitted genetically. Anyway, the diagnostic and treatment has to be prescribed by a veterinarian.