Gingivitis in Cats: Causes and Treatment

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. May 16, 2017
Gingivitis in Cats: Causes and Treatment

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The cat is one of the domestic mammals with fewer teeth, they have 30, and like other mammals, they lose their deciduous teeth between 4 and 6 months old. The health of a cat's mouth is essential because it uses its mouth to hunt, clean and most importantly, feed.

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums and is a common problem in cats, but if it is not treated properly, it can get worse. It can affect cats of all ages but occurs most often in kittens or young adult cats.

This AnimalWised article will show you how to recognize gingivitis in cats and how to deal with feline gingivitis.

Recognizing gingivitis: symptoms in cats

The first thing to help a cat with gingivitis is identifying the problem. Gingivitis usually starts with a thin red line along the gums and the gums are swollen and red. A cat with gingivitis will suffer from pain and may eat less, especially refusing to eat dry feed. This is because this type of feed is hard and causes more discomfort and pain than a moist and soft feed. They may also have bad breath and stop cleaning them self.

Gingival pain may result in behavioral changes such as depression, your cat may also become more irritable and may even tend to bite more. The most important signs that you can see in cats with gingivitis are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty swallowing (dry feed)
  • Not letting you touch its mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Behavioral changes

It is important to stress that many other diseases of the mouth and teeth, that aren't gingivitis, provoke these same signs, so if you see these signs you should go to your vet to have a differential diagnosis performed in order to confirm that it is gingivitis.

Gingivitis in Cats: Causes and Treatment - Recognizing gingivitis: symptoms in cats


The first thing you want to avoid is poor dental-mouth hygiene. Dental plaque contains toxins that can cause gingivitis, which is often associated with the presence of tartar.

However the cause is not necessarily bad dental hygiene, other factors may favor the onset of gingivitis in your cat. Such as, a diet of soft feed or an immune problem associated with bacterial activity.

Feline gingivitis can also be caused by a virus in your cat's mouth: the most common virus to blame for the appearance of gingivitis is calicivirus. You can vaccinate your cat regularly to immunize against calicivirus.

Feline leukaemia virus can also trigger feline gingivitis and kidney failure. Read about some tips to prevent dental plaque in your cat at Animal Wised.

Gingivitis in Cats: Causes and Treatment - Causes

Treatment of feline gingivitis

In cases of mild to moderate gingivitis, usually the vet can give some painkillers. To control the bacterial plaque, the cat will receive antibiotics together with their mouth being cleaned and teeth polished; in addition to brushing and using mouthwash at home.

If some diets present odontoclastic resorption, affected teeth may be extracted. In cases of cats suffering from calicivirus, specific treatment with interferons to fight the virus will be administered.

In more advanced or serious cases, a complete extraction of teeth affected by gingivitis should be carried out.

Gingivitis in Cats: Causes and Treatment - Treatment of feline gingivitis


The best and only really efficient way to prevent the onset of gingivitis in your cat is brushing its teeth.

Brushing a cat's teeth may not be easy, but it is advised to accustom your cat to it from a young age. Brushing their teeth 3 times a week is a good amount, you should use a toothpaste for cats because human toothpaste contains fluoride and can be toxic to them.

Brushing their teeth can also prevent oral problems in general and it is a good opportunity for you to check the state of your cat's oral health.

Gingivitis in Cats: Causes and Treatment - Prevention

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Gingivitis in Cats: Causes and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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1 comment
Billy Collins cat of 15 years
Billy has had his teeth out hoping the gingervitis will go away -it seems worse now back of his mouth is effecting him much bleeding is on medics every 2 weeks is loosing some weight and tearing his fur out -where to next ?? Please reply soon - Noeline
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