Friday, July 23, 2010

Cats And Dental Disease, "Mario Da Cat's" Story

I hate going to the dentist (do any of us actually like it? Well frankly my husband does but that is another story!) I have periodontal issues that necessitate that I see a dentist every three months. While sitting in the chair I remembered how my former cat Bobo suffered from periodontal issues. Leaving periodontal disease untreated in humans and in animals can cause a myriad of problems, one glaring problem is heart disease.

It is ironic that after one of my own visits to have my gums deep scaled I met Mary on Twitter (the Mom of @Mariodacat) who was telling me about the dental problems that Mario had experienced. I asked her if she would share Marios' story with the rest of us, she graciously agreed and I am honored to share it with all of you:

Mario's Story

I was thrilled when Caren asked me to do a guest blog post regarding my cat’s (@Mariodacat – on Twitter) dental problems and how he became toothless at the age of 4. Hopefully it will bring awareness to the importance of having your animals teeth cleaned when your veterinarian recommends such. If your vet recommends brushing, it can be done with proper training.

We adopted Mario from our local shelter in October 2008. A week later we were in having his teeth cleaned, and one had to be pulled as it could not be saved. He kept having recurring infections after that. Finally, after 4 changes in antibiotics (which clearly were not helping) our veterinarian said Mario might be one of those rare cats that are allergic to his own bacteria in the mouth. She recommended seeing an animal dentist in another city.

After many blood tests, extensive
 X-rays (Mario did have to be put under anesthesia for that), the dentist called us and said Mario’s teeth would have to be removed. When normal veterinarians remove teeth, they do the best that they can with their skills & equipment. Probably 99% of the time, it’s good enough for most animals. But it was determined that Mario was allergic to his own bacteria in his mouth. The dentist found little tiny bone fragments remaining from what his regular vet had pulled. These could not normally be seen without the specialized equipment that a dentist has.

He pulled all of Mario’s teeth, except the 4 canines, that first visit & cleaned up the hidden fragments left behind from his visit to our local vet. We were sent home with toothpaste for cats, a tiny brush, taught how to brush his teeth, and of course, more antibiotics. The Dentist stressed the importance of brushing daily. Well, even with our faithful brushing the infection still did not clear up. It was then determined that the 4 canines would also have to be removed.

By the time Mario had been with us a year, all his teeth had been pulled, we were missing a few $1,000 dollars, but we gained a very happy, healthy, loveable cat. He is able to eat dry kibble and, of course, canned cat food for a treat.

There wasn’t anything that we could have done to prevent this from happening, as we didn’t discover the problem until we had adopted him. But we are very grateful to our dentist for being aware of the problem and referring us to a specialist.

If you have an animal that has recurring infections in the mouth area, question your vet on whether or not your pet might be allergic to the bacteria in his/her mouth. If your vet hasn’t even heard of it, I would encourage you to contact an animal dentist in your state. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Had we not been referred to a dentist for animals, Mario probably wouldn’t be around today. Peridontal disease in animals is very serious and can be deadly. The infection can eventually enter the blood stream and that is when it becomes deadly.

Mario wrote about his ordeal in his blog – was written by him (with me, his human) typing for him so it is very lengthy, but informative. If you have an animal that you think might have a similar situation, I would encourage you to read it.


  1. Thank you so much for publishing my story. It is our hope that people with animals will take dental health seriously. If it even saves one animal from going through what I went through, it will be worth it.

  2. thanks for sharing this story, -it's really true, a cats dental health affects everything. We lost my smokey (moksie-moo moo, don't ask) at 12 to kidney/heart failure caused by gum disease, cats are just like us somewhat human folk!! Ms. Z.

  3. Mario you know I love ya and it is my pleasure to post your story, but I am so sorry that you had to go through all of this.

    Your Mom loves you soooo much and she is a wonderful lady to have typed your story up for you!

    Hugs and Kisses Mario to you and your Mom!

  4. Ms. Z I am so sorry about Smokey! My Bobo had heart issues that he developed later in life and I always wonder if it started due to his dental issues.

    I always had him have regular teeth cleanings since age 3 or so but I wasn't that great about brushing his teeth at home.
    I did start brushing Cody's as a kitten and try to do it somewhat regularly.
    The vet told me that often if a cat is going to have dental problems it shows up by about age one or so.

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. It's not clear to me what Mario was actually diagnosed with, but it sounds like stomatitis? I agree that dental health is critically important for our cats. Even mild dental disease should be treated immediately, and staying on top of things with regular cleanings is very important. As some of the commenters mentioned, dental disease can affect other organs such as the heart and kidneys and should never be taken lightly. Aside from that, dental disease hurts! Red and inflamed gums hurt cats just as much as they hurt humans - cats are just better at masking their pain.

    Diet can play a role in preventing dental problems, and one thing that most people don't realize is that dry food is actually going to make dental problems worse. Contrary to what we were led to believe, and what, unfortunately, many vets still advocate, dry food does not scrape tartar off of teeth. Cats don't chew dry kibble long enough for any effective scraping action to take place, and in fact, the carbohydrates in dry food leave a film on cats' teeth that actually contributes to the formation of tartar, which eventually leads to gum disease. Cats should be fed a grain-free canned or raw diet. The moisture in these diets is not only better for them overall, but actually keeps their mouths cleaner.

    For more on why dental health is so important for our pets:

    And for more on why dry food is so bad for cats:

  6. Hi Ingrid and thanks for the informative links and comments, I am sure everyone greatly appreciates it!

    From what I understand from what Mary wrote and mentioned to me was that Mario was actually allergic to his own bacteria. There is a link to the actual (quite lengthy) post on Mary's blog for Mario listed in my blog today. That might be able to give you more information.

    Thanks so much for your contribution!

  7. My pleasure! I'm pretty passionate about feline dental health and feline nutrition, so I'm always happy to spread the word!

  8. This story had nothing to do with an Italian plumber and his appetite for mushrooms. I don't even know why I read this blog any more.

  9. Many thanks for sharing the story. I'm so sorry that Mario had to go through all of this.

    I don't like going to the dentist either so my dental visit is always delayed if it's possible.

    However, in order to prevent from having any dental problems, I got to be very hard working on brushing Eva's teeth from now on. She likes it because of the yummy toothpaste!!!

  10. Great post. Our little stray cat that we found had lost several teeth, lost another one at the groomer as we had the matts all shaved off of her. She ended up getting 13 teeth pulled and only has a couple left. She seems to be doing great now and does just eat wet food.
    I have never heard of being allergic to the mouth bacteria until I heard this from Mario. I am so glad that he has healed up and is healthy now.

  11. Just a note to add that Ingrid King is correct - Mario was diagnosed with Stomatitis. I had forgotten that when writing the article, but that is the exact term. Thank you Ingrid.

  12. Poor Mario! I'm sorry you had to go through that experience, kiddo, that's really rough. I'm very glad, though, that you're bringing awareness to the topic of dental health in cats.

    I've noticed that a lot of people seem to be either totally unaware of the need for dental hygiene for their cats, or they seem to think it's something that the veterinarian will eventually take care of.

    I hope Mario has many happy years ahead!

  13. Thanks for stopping by our blog! And thanks for posting this! We cats dental health is very important. Glad Mario is okay!

    Lu-Lu & Lucius

  14. What a good reminder of the importance of dental health (as I sit here, putting off my own root canal).

    And thanks for visiting us and for your interest in supporting our Livestrong venture. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your husband's mom. Cancer affects way too many people. I can take donations all the way up to the race in November, so you can swing by anytime!

    It's good to meet you!