How to Tell If Your Cat Has a Toothache

Like humans, cats can experience a toothache. But like a young child, pets cannot express their symptoms when a health problem is present. So it's up to the pet owner to look for symptoms of illness, disease and infection in a cat. Periodontal disease, also known as dental disease, is the most common cause of toothaches in cats. A broken tooth can also result in a toothache. The symptoms of a toothache may be subtle at first, but as the cat's condition gets worse, the symptoms will be more pronounced. A toothache is a sign of a larger problem, and prompt veterinary attention will be required.

Look for signs of inappetance and a refusal to drink normally. For a cat with a toothache, eating and drinking can be painful. This might begin with the cat refusing to eat his entire meal and, over time, he might only eat soft cat food and ultimately refuse to eat anything at all.

Monitor the cat for obvious mouth-related abnormalities like drooling and areas of facial swelling. Drool might be clear or blood-tinged. Facial swelling can arise over the course of a few hours in the event of facial trauma that's led to a broken tooth. Facial swelling can arise over the course of a few days in the case of an infection due to feline dental disease.

Monitor the cat's mouth for a strong, foul odour. In the case of severe periodontal disease, an abscessed tooth or serious gum infection, the cat's mouth may have a foul smell that's slightly sweet, similar to the odour of rotting meat.

Examine the cat's mouth for signs of tooth damage by lifting the cat's lips and looking at the teeth under a bright light. A freshly broken tooth will be obvious; the end will be jagged and the core of the tooth will be pink. Bleeding may be present. A chipped tooth may be less obvious, but you can see abnormalities by comparing teeth on each side of the mouth--if you drew a line down the centre of the cat's mouth, the teeth would appear to be a mirror image.

Examine the cat's mouth for signs of periodontal disease by lifting the cat's lip and looking at the gums under a bright light. The cat's teeth will appear brown because of tartar accumulation. The gums may be inflamed, bleeding and infected. The gums may also be receded in some areas, exposing the root of the tooth. Some teeth may have obvious abscesses and cavities.

Record all symptoms observed in your cat in a notebook. Record observations daily and bring these notes along to the veterinarian. A clear record of symptoms helps in diagnosis of pet health problems.

Most recent