Thank goodness for sisters! And Happy Healthy Cat Month. The two came together in the most unique way for me recently and I have to tell you about it.
Like me, my sister Karen has three girl kitties – Dottie, Peewee and Peaches. Her years of experience far exceed mine though, so I have always considered her more of an expert and relied on her for advice.
As September is Happy Healthy Cat Month, I was all prepared to relay some information on vaccinations, because my girls are finally all caught up on theirs and I was feeling pretty confident about how well we were taking care of their health. Or so I thought.
Turns out, vaccinations are only part of the story. Actually, there is something just as important when it comes to your cats health that I wasn’t even familiar with until Karen enlightened me.
A few days ago, Karen took Dottie to the vet and discovered she was suffering from FORL.
FORL (Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions) is peridontal disease in cats. Peridontal disease is considered the most prevalent illness in cats over three years of age. in advanced cases, cat tooth extraction is necessary and it can affect their overall health and well being. Here is the tricky part: because it is slow progressing and usually the pain comes on gradually over time, cats often won’t show signs of oral discomfort. In fact, most cats simply learn to live with it! I know, right? This is how all of us good cat moms and dads aren’t even aware our babies are sick.
Which makes sense, because as cat moms go, Karen is amazing. Like, I want to come back in my next life as one of her cats amazing, and I am not just saying that because she is my sister. Furthermore, I would be willing to bet that most cats (mine included) do or will suffer from this at some point in their lives.
While this information is sobering for me, there are ways to prevent it, so let’s all take a lesson from Dottie and make today the day we turn over a new leaf with our kittos dental hygene.
Start by looking for symptoms. Bad breath, swollen red gums and drooling are the most common. However, in the early stages, things can appear normal and your cat may not have obvious symptoms, so I would highly recommend scheduling a dental care appointment with your vet to be on the safe side – especially if your cat is over 3 years old. In fact, your vet should be checking teeth and gums as part of your cats ‘wellness check’ when you bring them in for scheduled vaccinations, so if they are not, please inquire!
Establish a good daily cleaning routine. With older cats this is easier said than done. Trust me, at 5 yrs. old Thelma, Weezy & Buttons will be really hard to convince at first, and I expect resistance, but to help them get used to it I am going to start by massaging their gums, which is also recommended. (The trick with this is to dip your finger in the broth from the popular broth treats on the market, or just tuna water ; )
Pet MD recommends using a finger cot or gauze along with cat toothpaste to clean teeth. **Please don’t use regular toothpaste or even a small child’s toothbrush, as it will be too large for your cat’s mouth and the fluoride in toothpaste is harmful! Sentry Petrodex makes a dental kit for cats, but double check with your vet as they would be able to direct you to the proper solution. The key is daily brushing, so do your best to get a plan in place as soon as you can.
Review their diet. Feeding a combination of nutritional wet and dry foods with a variety of meats (chicken, beef) is important. Dry foods usually help in removing plaque, but make sure the food is not too hard for them to chew or swallow. There are also some effective dental supplements* available, and although not cheap may be well worth every penny in the long run. I had to think about when I last did this review with my own girls, so in writing this, I am also learning.
Sometimes the biggest mistake we can make is to just take the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach. You know what? If one thing this post does for you today is to be a little more attentive to what is going on with your cat then I feel good. Karen did that for me, and while I know it’s not an easy thing to have your cat go through to create the awareness I couldn’t be more grateful.
I checked in with Karen to see how Dottie is doing, and get her thoughts. She thanked me for helping spread the word and said Dottie is recovering nicely after having four molars removed. She also sent me the pics above – and while I always love seeing sweet Dottie happy, I may be keeping the center pic of her ordeal on the fridge as a daily reminder to get after my own cats with cleaning. Thanks again Karen & Dottie!
*Just so you know, I haven’t yet tried this Pet Wellbeing Healthy Gums for Feline Peridontal Health product yet (same link as above), so I just wanted to make that clear – nor are they sponsoring this post. In researching ways to alleviate the disease this product seemed most reliable for it’s reviews, 90 day money back guarantee and BBB accreditation, so I may be giving it a try.