Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: January 25, 2023 by Crystal Uys


By the time they reach three years of age, about 80% of cats have oral health issues, with many showing the tell-tale signs of early onset periodontal disease.

Unfortunately, periodontal disease often goes untreated, because other than a foul smelling breath  —something that many guardians just write off as “bad breath”—there are few other symptoms of the disease during its early stages. Periodontal disease can lead to multiple problems for your cat, including pain and, eventually, tooth loss.

What is periodontal disease?

Feline periodontal disease is a condition that affects a cat’s gums, rather than originating in the teeth themselves. Tooth loss and decay usually occur as a direct result of advanced periodontal disease. Feline periodontal disease develops when plaque and tartar extend below the gumline. The bacteria that are present in this “subgingival” plaque then begin to secrete toxins that result in inflammation, damaging the supporting tissues around the teeth.

Warning signs of periodontal disease

  • bad breath
  • inflamed gums that bleed easily
  • gums that appear red
  • receding gums
  • sensitivity around the mouth
  • pawing at the mouth
  • missing or loose teeth
  • reluctance or difficulty eating
  • poor appetite
  • depression
  • pus leaking from around affected teeth
  • drooling
  • stomach problems
  • resorptive lesions on the teeth

Any of these signs warrants a visit to your veterinarian.

Dr. James Anthony, a boarded veterinary dentist with over 30 years of experience, provides in-depth information the warning signs of periodontal disease in this video.

If you prefer reading, click here to read a transcript of the video.

About Dr. Anthony

If Dr. Anthony’s name sounds familiar to some of you, it’s because you may have seen me mention him in connection with 1TDC™, a 4-in-1 wellness solution that has beneficial effects on periodontal and joint, skin, and coat health as well as overall stamina. Dr. Anthony conducted a double-blind periodontal health study with cats at The University of Saskatchewan. The results were published in The Journal of Periodontology in 2007 and 2009. His research demonstrated positive results beyond the studies published in the journal. “I was amazed at the positive results from the use of the 1TDC™ technology,” said Dr. Anthony, BSc(Agr), DVM, MRCVS, FAVD, DAVDC, DEVDC, Pag. “All periodontal measurements in the test animals improved significantly. The more I use the 1TDC™ technology, the more impressed I am.”

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6 Comments on Warning Signs of Feline Periodontal Disease

  1. Do cats in the wild get Periodontal Disease? And why do animal dentists cost so much, and is there dental insurance for cats?

    • We don’t really have a way of knowing whether cats in the wild get periodontal disease, but wild cats in zoos do, even though they’re fed the equivalent of what cat would eat in the wild. This article explains the cost of veterinary care in general: Veterinary dentists have gone through additional special education. Pet insurance will cover dental care, but for most companies, it’s offered as an addition to a basic plan. In my case, I have a basic illness and accident plan. It does not cover routine dental care (cleaning,) but it does cover dental issues as a result of periodontal disease. Read the small print and ask questions before choosing a policy.

      • Thanks! Actually, feral cats can be checked when they are taken in for spaying/neutering. I will ask around to see if feral groups have the answer. The problem with most insurance coverage is they don’t cover “pre-existing conditions”, and we don’t know if a cat needs treatment until it is diagnosed. 🙁 BTW, my father’s cat lost all it’s teeth, and would eat dry and wet food (my dad said he was “gumming it” like some older humans do.

  2. Thank you for the post. Cashew is getting a dental. Has some gingervitis on part of his gums and bad breath.

  3. Thank you for this advice! Sometimes we think we know everything we need to, but every once in a while, a little reminder is helpful.

  4. Amazing timing, as I just got through this video on dental problems connected to heart disease and cancer and diabetes etc IN HUMANS so now i’m wondering whether the same ‘hidden epidemic’ exists in our cat friends… supposedly there’s a new CT [3D] that allows otherwise hidden abscesses to be visible that don’t show up symptomatically, nor on regular xrays… take a look and maybe something is happening in veterinary circles, or should…

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