Category Archives: feline health

Why Do Cats Grind Their Teeth?

cat teeth ianBy Langley Cornwell

While tooth grinding is generally considered to be a human problem, cats also do it. In fact, tooth grinding in cats even has a special name – it’s called Bruxism. Have you ever seen or heard a cat grinding his teeth? It’s not a pretty sight and it sounds downright painful. Any loving cat owner who has heard this sound will want to know what’s causing this behavior. They’ll also want to know how to make their cat stop doing it.

With cats, tooth grinding is not usually a habit or a “tic” like it can be with humans. If your cat is grinding or gnashing his teeth, there is likely a root cause and the Bruxism is simply a symptom. Here are some possible causes.

Oral Pain

If you’ve ever watched a cat play, you know they will put just about anything in their mouths. This could lead to dental problems, abscesses, burns and jaw problems. When your cat grinds his teeth, especially if the grinding is accompanied with drooling or excessive salivation, it’s likely that he is experiencing some kind of oral pain. If you can, check your cat’s mouth for sores, broken teeth or any inflammation. You may need to visit your veterinarian to safely and thoroughly check the cats mouth and throat, after all those teeth and claws can do some damage.
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White Cats and Deafness – What’s the Connection?

white cat warrenBy Langley Cornwell

You may have heard that most white cats are deaf, and for the most part, that’s true. This blanket statement gets thrown around a lot, but there’s an important caveat – there are varying degrees of what is actually considered a white cat in the first place. With that in mind, it’s important to note that a white cat is NOT an albino cat. And to make things even more confusing, albino cats aren’t usually deaf. Are you with me so far?

White or Albino?

Saying that a white cat and an albino cat are the same thing is like saying a fair skinned, blonde haired child is albino. Light skin and hair does not make a living thing an albino; it’s the complete absence of pigmentation that makes a living thing an albino. To learn if a feline is albino or white, one simply has to look at the cat’s eyes. A lack of pigmentation in the eyes causes them to be a pink color, and makes the cat sensitive to light.

White Masking

As far as what causes deafness in white cats, in some cases cats actually have colors in their genetic makeup, but they also have a gene that causes something called white masking. This masking covers all other colors and prevents melanin from developing. Because melanin has an impact on the ionic balance in the cochlea, the cochlea degenerates shortly after birth and the cat is permanently deaf.
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3 Parasites You May Not Realize Your Pet Has

parasites BobBy Linda Cole

It’s not difficult to figure out if your pet has fleas. Left untreated, it doesn’t take long for a full blown flea infestation to invade your home and pet. It’s not always so easy, however, to tell when parasites are affecting your dog or cat. Here are three parasites you might not realize your pet has.

Cuterebra Parasite

The Cuterebra (Botfly) is a large, non-biting fly that lay eggs around openings of rabbit or rodent dens. Some eggs are deposited on plants and rocks in the area. Rabbits and rodents are the normal host for the fly, but dogs and cats can collect eggs on their coat when poking their head in and around burrow openings. Eggs exposed to the warmer body temperature of a pet hatch into larvae that crawl around looking for a way into their host, usually through the mouth or nasal passage during grooming, or through an open wound.
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Tooth Resorption in Cats and Dogs

tooth resorption makiaBy Julia Williams

A few months ago I took my cat, Annabelle, in for a routine checkup. After a thorough exam, my vet told me that Annabelle had a painful condition called tooth resorption. This came as a complete surprise, as Annabelle had been acting her normal happy self, she was eating well and seemed to be in perfect health.

I hadn’t noticed any abnormal behavior, and Annabelle did not act like she was in any discomfort when she was scarfing her CANIDAE wet food or her treats. My vet explained that even though tooth resorption is known to be quite painful, in most cases our pets don’t show outward signs until it’s become extremely uncomfortable. This is a largely a survival instinct, since an animal in the wild who showed weakness would be vulnerable to a predator.

What is Tooth Resorption?

Although tooth resorption is similar in appearance to the cavities humans get in their teeth, there is a difference. Cavities are caused by bacterial decay which begins at the tooth’s hard outer surface (the enamel) and progresses toward the interior of the tooth. With tooth resorption, the damage begins inside the tooth with “resorptive lesions” which are caused by cells eating away at the tooth. A tooth that is affected by resorptive lesions will erode and eventually disappear entirely as it is absorbed back into the animal’s body. As a tooth disintegrates, the dentin (inner part of the tooth) and nerve are exposed, causing extreme sensitivity and a great deal of pain.tooth resorption rick

Tooth resorption occurs primarily in cats, but dogs can get it too, as can larger cats such as tigers, lions, cheetahs and leopards. Tooth resorption in domestic housecats is a common condition that affects as many as 50% of cats over three years old.

What Causes Tooth Resorption?

Some studies suggest that an excess of vitamin D in the diet may play a role in tooth resorption; other theories support that it’s an autoimmune response. However, at the present time there is no definitive answer as to what causes the resorptive lesions. What is known is that once an animal develops one resorptive lesion, it’s highly likely that other teeth will also be affected.

Is Tooth Resorption Preventable?

Unfortunately, until it’s understood what causes the resorptive lesions to occur, there is no way to prevent them. Pets that have resorptive lesions in one tooth often have them in other teeth.

How is Tooth Resorption Diagnosed?

Some things to watch for include excessive salivation, bleeding in the mouth and difficulty eating. (You might notice, for example, that your pet appears to only be chewing on one side of her mouth). As I mentioned earlier, however, some pets with tooth resorption may exhibit no outward signs; in this case, the condition will be discovered when your vet examines your pet’s mouth.

Some resorptive lesions can be seen, while others are hidden below the gum. If a lesion is suspected, your vet may use a probe such as a cotton swab. When the lesion is touched by the probe, it causes pain resulting in chattering and jaw spasms. tooth resorption danielleRadiographs (x-rays) are extremely helpful not only in making a definitive diagnosis, especially for the hidden resorptive lesions, but also for treatment planning.

How is Tooth Resorption Treated?

Tooth resorptions can be seen on radiographs in many different stages, depending upon how long the tooth has been affected and how fast it is resorbing. Unfortunately, there is no reliable treatment and extraction of the affected tooth (or teeth) is usually recommended. If the disease has significantly progressed and the resorbing tooth has already fused to the jawbone, the veterinary surgeon may recommend amputation of the tooth instead of extraction. Radiographs while under general anesthesia will help your vet determine which procedure is best.

Top photo by Makia Minich/Flickr
Middle photo by Rick Wasser/Flickr
Bottom photo by Danielle Kellogg/Flickr

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Thyroid Problems in Dogs and Cats

thyroid rekre89By Langley Cornwell

As a responsible pet owner, there are many health issues dogs and cats may experience that you should be aware of. In fact, being a pet owner often means learning about things you had no idea even existed. Each species has specific health conditions that affect them, and then there are several that can afflict both cats and dogs. One of these conditions is thyroid problems.

Both dogs and cats can have problems with their thyroid gland. The thyroid gland produces the hormone that controls metabolism. Cats tend to have hyperthyroidism (too much hormone) while dogs often suffer from hypothyroidism (too little hormone).

How to Know if Your Pet Has a Thyroid Problem

If you notice your dog or cat is acting either extra sluggish or extremely active—as compared to their normal behavior — or is gaining or losing weight, you will want to call your vet and discuss this. It’s important, because if left untreated, thyroid issues may have a detrimental effect on your pet’s quality of life. The symptoms of thyroid problems, if left untreated, can lead to other conditions and can even eventually be fatal.

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7 Tips on Caring for Senior Cats

Senior Cat MickeyBy Julia Williams

One of my cats is 16 now, and the other two are 12. As such, I have been researching the topic of senior cat care quite a bit in recent years. I love my cats like family, and I want to do everything in my power to keep them healthy and happy for many more years. Though there may be some things outside of my control, there are steps I can take now and in the future that will positively impact the longevity of my beloved fur babies. I’ll cover some of them briefly in this post.

When Does a Cat Reach “Senior” Age?

The funny thing about this question is that the answer depends upon who you ask. Some cat experts put the senior age as low at 7, while others say it’s more like 10 or 11. There is no “absolute” age that classifies a cat as senior. This is due in part because, like humans, some cats age faster than others. If your cat is 10 years or older – about the equivalent of a 56-60 year old human – you can safely assume they are a senior.

Vet Checkups

As a cat ages, health issues are bound to arise. The best way to help ensure longevity is to catch problems as early as possible. Early detection of age-related conditions and illnesses will enable you and your veterinarian treat them more successfully. Many health issues can be delayed and/or managed provided they are caught in the beginning stages. Since cats are quite good at hiding illness and may not appear unwell to you even when there is an underlying issue, a wellness check every six months is recommended. For a senior cat, six months is about the same as you seeing your doctor every two years, which is certainly long enough for health changes to occur.

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