(Above picture is of a young cat with gingivitis and no tartar build up)
Cats are "blessed" with the ability to contract Upper Respiratory Infections (URI's) easily, one of the more common viruses that cat's like to share is the Feline Herpes virus. This is not the same Herpes virus that infections people. It causes URI's in cats, it can also wreak havoc in the mouth and eyes. Similar to the Human Herpes virus, Feline Herpes can lay dormant in the body and the cat can be asymptomatic for months to years. Also similar to the Human Herpes virus, stress can cause the virus to replicate and the infected host become symptomatic. Hudson already had a "fight" with an URI last month, and since these URI's are usually caused by a virus vs bacteria, antibiotic's are not always indicated. Huddy did not have a fever, he was eating/drinking and active. He also had clear ocular (eye) and nasal discharge, so I didn't place him on antibiotics, I did however supplement with a L-lysine supplement. L-lysine is a supplement that can HELP keep the herpes virus at bat, but not CURE it, it can be used in both people and cats. Hudson was on the supplement until the symptoms stopped (meaning he was no longer seeking me out to sneeze on!)
The other suspicion is an immune mediated problems cat's can have, where the body literally becomes allergic to the bacteria/plaque in the mouth and attacks it. The medical term for this type of problem is Lymphocytic-Plasmacytic Gingivitis Stomatitis (LPGS). There is also a correlation between LPGS and cat's that are positive for either Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and/or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), thankfully Huddy tested negative for both in August. Usually cats with LPGS have little to no dental tartar so a dental prophylaxis (teeth cleaning) doesn't do much (the cats that do have dental tartar built up will benefit from a cleaning though!) so antibiotics and teeth brushing is the recommendation. Sometimes a prescription dental diet will help, but I do not care for prescription diets much (that's a whole other blog topic to tackle) and either way prescription diets are NOT recommended for growing kittens. Even if you have the most patient cat in the world, can brush their teeth several times a day, feed the prescription diet and do everything that is recommended, some cats STILL have gingivitis! As a last resort for treating LPGS, a gum biopsy is done, then full mouth extractions.Cats that have had a full mouth extraction do well, usually the canines and incisors are left. All of the molars and pre molars (14 total) are removed, which is quite difficult. The teeth themselves are very healthy, the roots are strong and not ready to leave the mouth! Full mouth extractions require general anesthesia, and radiographs (x-rays) before and after, to make sure the teeth are normal before hand, and fully extracted after. This is something I would LOVE to avoid with Hudson, for obvious reasons!!
(Above picture is of an adult cat with LPGS that has had a "full mouth extraction" procedure, leaving the canines and bottom incisors)
So you can see, either way this will be a life long issue...shouldn't be a surprise though, Hudson is not only a bottle fed kitten (I have had him since he was about 3-5 days old!), he is also a Vet Tech's kitten, so he will be a double trouble maker!
I figured keeping him on the L-lysine supplement would help, and after the virus went back to laying dormant, the gingivitis would calm down (all gingivitis means is "inflammation of the gingivi" not necessarily infection of the gums). Well last Sunday I got home from running errands and the wooden doweled stand used for drying plastic baggies (yes, I am a tree hugging hippie and reuse my plastic baggies!) was knocked on the floor and had bite marks and dried blood all over it! The dogs were all locked up, and my female cats were upstairs with no access to the counter. I checked Hudson's mouth and saw that his gums were worse!
So Monday, Huddy came to work with me. We gave him an antibiotic injection that will last two weeks, and offered the tooth paste to him...he LOVED it! He was crazy over it, and wanted more! Thankfully this cat will eat anything, and certainly tries. So far, we have found out he likes
- Baked Ziti
- Sam Adam's OctoberFest beer
- Hard pretzels
So we are rechecking his mouth in two weeks, and hoping for the best. Until then, I am using a water additive to help decrease the tarter build up, brushing his teeth daily, and continuing the L-lysine supplement....fingers crossed once the antibiotic wears off, this is good enough to maintain my man with a healthy mouth and fresh smelling breath!
(Below video is of me helping Hudson brush his teeth! Sorry there is no sound, but your not missing much!)