Common Dental Diseases in Cats

Like humans, our feline friends can suffer from dental conditions and diseases that can cause discomfort or pain. To help you identify dental disease in your cat, our veterinary team in Seattle will explain common examples of oral health issues and ways to prevent dental disease from developing.

Your cat's oral health is crucial to its overall well-being and happiness. Their teeth, gums, and mouth are vital for eating and communicating, and if they experience pain or malfunction, they will suffer discomfort and struggle to perform these tasks.

Additionally, untreated bacteria and infections from oral health issues can spread throughout their body, harming their organs such as kidneys, liver, and heart, and impacting their overall health.

How do you identify dental disease in your cat?

While different oral health issues will have different specific symptoms you will be able to identify in your cat if you notice any of the following behaviors or symptoms, there is a chance that your cat is suffering from dental disease. Symptoms of dental disease can include:

  • Bad Breath (halitosis)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty with or slow eating
  • Missing or loose teeth
  • Visible tartar
  • Bleeding, swollen, or noticeably red gums
  • Pawing at their teeth or mouth

If you notice any of the above signs of dental disease in your cat, bring them to your Seattle vet as soon as possible for examinations. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed, the better.

What are some common dental diseases in cats?

While a wide range of health issues can affect your cat's gums, teeth, and other oral structures, here are three particularly common ones to watch out for. 

Periodontal Disease

Around 70% of cats develop periodontal disease by age 3, caused by bacterial infections from plaque buildup on teeth.

Without regular brushing or cleaning, plaque hardens into tartar that spreads below the gum line and erodes supporting structures.

If left untreated, this disease can cause severe gum infection, tooth loss, and organ damage as bacteria spreads throughout the body.


Feline stomatitis causes painful inflammation and sores in your cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue.

Although certain breeds like Persians and Himalayans are more susceptible, any cat can develop this condition. Cats with stomatitis experience severe pain and loss of appetite, and may become malnourished.

Mild cases can be treated with at-home care, but severe cases may require surgery.

Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption in cats is the gradual destruction of one or more teeth in their mouth, affecting up to 75% of older cats.

This condition causes pain as the tooth's hard outer layer is broken down below the gumline, making it hard to detect without an x-ray.

If your cat starts avoiding hard food or swallows without chewing, they may be experiencing tooth resorption.

How do I prevent dental disease in my cat?

Routine brushing and cleaning of your cat's mouth, just like in people, is the number one way to prevent dental disease and issues with your cat's teeth.

Regularly removing plaque can prevent damage and infection to your cat's teeth and gums. Starting when your cat is a kitten can help them quickly adjust to the process for the best results.

Additionally, regular dental checkups with your vet starting at one year old can prevent disease with professional cleanings and oral health treatments.

Do you suspect that your cat may be suffering from dental disease? Contact the vets at Madison Park Veterinary Hospital as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment and guidance on how to help prevent oral health problems in the future.