Gingivitis In Cats: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Dental problems can be extremely painful for cats and is as pervasive in our feline friends as it is in humans. Our Monroe vets share signs and causes, along with information on how the disease is diagnosed and how it can be treated.

Gingivitis In Cats

Gingivitis describes the inflammation of the gums or gingiva that surrounds the teeth. The severity of the disease ranges; in extreme cases, cats with gingivitis could have problems eating and experience a high amount of discomfort. To remedy the condition, a tooth cleaning under anesthesia would be required. Just like humans, plaque - a buildup of germs, debris, dead skin cells, mucus, and food - can accumulate on the teeth and contribute to this dental issue.

Symptoms Of Gingivitis In Cats

Common signs of gingivitis in cats are:

  • Difficulty eating or not eating at all
  • Difficulty picking up toys or food
  • Bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums, especially around the area of the inner cheek
  • Drooling
  • Calculi/tartar
  • Plaque build-up on the teeth

Causes Of Gingivitis In Cats

Common causes of gingivitis in cats include:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Aging
  • Soft food
  • Insufficient dental care
  • FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
  • Crowded teeth

Diagnosis Of Gingivitis In Cats

Since cats are so good at concealing pain, they may not show any signs of discomfort even if they are in severe oral discomfort. Even cats who are eating normally and are active can have significant 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 treatment focuses on eliminating accumulated plaque and dental calculus, as well as treating or extracting destabilized and/or diseased teeth. To address any inflammatory dental disease, routine tooth cleanings and dental X-rays should be conducted under anesthetic.

In order for cats suffering from stomatitis to experience relief, their teeth frequently require extraction 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. Although it's easier if a routine is established while the cat is young, many adult cats can be slowly introduced to tooth brushing being a part of their grooming habits. 

Introduce Your Cat To Toothbrush & 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.

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.


With your cat used to the toothbrush, toothpaste, and you touching their mouth, it should be easier to brush their teeth. Brush along the gum line for about 15 to 30 seconds, only on the outside of the teeth, and reward them 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.

Does your cat's oral health concern you? Contact our Monroe vets today for a consultation and possible treatment options.