The average age for indoor cats is now 15 years! How amazing is that? Just ten years ago, our kitties were only living to 9 (years, not just lives). Since these little furry family members are living longer with us, we are seeing more and more age-related diseases. We are getting more cases of arthritis, kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, and dental disease.
Dental disease is very unique in cats. Cats do not get “cavities” like people do. Instead, they can develop a tooth disease FORL, or Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions. The reasons why some cats, or even just some teeth in a particular cat, develop resorptive lesions are not yet know. What we do know is that these effected teeth have damage at the root level causing infection, tooth pain, gingivitis and bad breath (halitosis). Because of this, the bone of the jaw tries to heal the bad tooth creating divots or indents in the surface of the tooth and irritation at the gum level.
Cats are amazing in many ways. When it comes to mouth illnesses, they can handle a large amount of pain and without showing any signs. They will continue to eat (including big dry food), groom themselves, play, and interact with their families while their teeth are literally rotting out of their head. Dental disease can take YEARS off their lives, and is linked to other issues like heart and kidney disease, and infections such as bladder, upper respiratory and joint. So now we know – there are many health reasons why we need to keep those pearly whites white, and not just to prevent them from smelling bad.