My philosphy

My philosphy

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

About...Hudson's Scary Bat Breath!

          Cat breath is certainly NOT the sweetest smelling thing, and recently my kitten Hudson has had some pretty rank breath! When I first noticed his breath was less then kind, I didn't think much of it. However, it definitely made the 4:30am wake up that involves him rubbing all over my face and drooling much less enjoyable! The first morning I noticed the horrible smell, I took a good look in his mouth. His adult canine teeth started to erupt, and his gums were red...which is normal. I figured the bad breath was nothing to worry about, until a week or so later when the smell was persisting! I took another look in his mouth, this time further back, all of his gums were inflamed, both buccal (cheek) and lingual (tongue) aspects. I started to go into a "Vet Tech burden of too much knowledge" panic attack. The two things that would cause moderate to severe gingivitis with no tartar build up are viral infections or an immune mediated disease...considering he is only 5 1/2 months old, I am hoping for a viral infection!

(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
  • Pineapple
  • Sam Adam's OctoberFest beer
  • Sangria
  • Salsa
  • Hard pretzels
and pretty much anything else he can scrounge for on the floor/counter when he THINKS we aren't looking! He has no shame in jumping on the table during dinner and helping himself to our plates. He have caught him dragging a loaf of bread across the floor, or stealing raw chicken while I am cutting he fat off! Thankfully he loves his poultry flavored tooth paste, and will happily "brush" his own teeth (I bought him his own tooth brush will be at the end of the post!).

            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!)


  1. I'm still laughing! What a riot! I wish my cat was half that kind! Hudson is so lucky! What a sweetheart...I didn't know any of that about their gums, wow! My cat (we call her Super Kitty-because she went through hell before we got her...but my friend calls her Frankencat because she is really grumpy) will barely let us pet her, much less get in her mouth. I will try to get a look in there now that I know more. You are an amazing animal lover..I'm sending this to my friend in Sweden - she has two great kitties who hide her mail! She's going to love this! Thank you! - Christina

  2. Hi! Anna in Sweden would like to know, "where do we get the poultry toothpaste!?" she loved it!!!

  3. I got mine from the clinic I work for, any pet store should carry it, or she can even order online. I am in love with for ordering my pet supplies (even food)! The type I have is from the company Virbac, CET is the "brand" and it's an enzymatic tooth paste, which means the enzymes help to break down bacteria and plaque. Just make sure to NEVER use a human tooth paste! There is no difference between cat vs dog tooth paste except flavors :)

  4. thanks! that's awesome~our dog has really stinking breath, so I will try it on her...I hope she is half as good as Hudson!

  5. hi Kate! do you know anything about feline "aptoy"? Any info would be great...yes, we know a cat with it. Vet said will be a "life long ordeal"...what do you think?

  6. Feline Atopy is an inhaled/contact environmental allergy. Depending on what exactly the cat and allergic to, and the severity of the allergy, will determine exactly how long of an "ordeal" this will be. Allergy testing is obviously the most accurate way to determine what the exact allergen is. There are a few ways to test for allergies. The most accurate is a skin antigen test, just like with people. This requires a referral to a Veterinary Dermatologist, usually the patient is under anesthesia and a spot of fur is shaven off for the test. The skin is then "exposed" to specific allergens, and if allergic, the skin will respond with mild swelling. Cats are more difficult to determine a positive result than dogs are. If the Vet and the owner decided that "allergy injections" are an appropriate option, specific hypo-desensitization injections are compounded for the patient. There is another type of allergy test available, but it is not as accurate. If your regular veterinarian offers it, they can draw a set amount of blood to send to an outside lab and run a blood allergy test. These can show "false positives", but if there is a positive you can eliminate from the environment, it is always a good idea. This form of testing is not as accurate for food allergies either. The final way to rule out allergies, is to remove a stimuli from the environment for a few weeks and watch for improvement. This works best for food allergies, it's called a food elimination trial, but in theory could be used for environmental allergies.

    Some allergies can be managed with antihistamines, the vet can give the proper dose based on the cats weight. There are a few options with antihistamines, so if one doesn't work, ask for another dose.

    I hope this was helpful, if I can think of anything else to add I will :)

    And of course, let me know if you have any more questions!