Dental disease and gum disease is fairly common in cats. Maine Coons are one of the breeds that are predisposed to juvenile gingivitis and stomatitis. Healthy gums are either pale or bright pink. In this article, we’ll have a closer look at the challenges you may face as an owner of a Maine Coon, and how to properly care for Maine Coon teeth and gums.
Maine Coon Teeth and Gum Problems
Everyone likes to see beautiful pink gums on their kitty. Since I started breeding Maine Coons, I’ve seen quite the opposite. This beautiful and mesmerizing breed of cat seems to be riddled with teeth and gum issues. In fact, research indicates that 8 out of 10 cats, regardless of breed, face some sort of gum issue.
These challenges range from early signs of gingivitis all the way to stomatitis (in extreme cases). Sometimes the gum issues can present themselves when the kitten is 6-9 months old. Other times you may not see symptoms until the cat is a young adult.
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gum surrounding the tooth, caused by the buildup of plaque and bacteria. It’s the most common condition found in cats. Cats of any age or breed can be affected by gingivitis. Without regular cleanings, gingivitis can become severe and lead to more complicated gum issues, like periodontal disease.
Gingivitis can be caused by various infectious or systemic diseases. To name a few, feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, feline calicivirus, and autoimmune diseases. Food and bacteria build up on and around the teeth is usually the culprit. Think of gingivitis on a cat the same way you would a human. If you don’t floss and brush your teeth daily, you will end up with gingivitis or worse, periodontal disease.
The most common symptoms of feline gingivitis are:
- Red and/or swollen gums
- Bad breath
Regular cleanings and monitoring is the treatment for feline gingivitis. Offer the cat some treats that are designed to “clean” their gums. For example, there’s water additives and special chicken flavored treats that helps with removing plaque from the gums.
Stomatitis, also referred to as Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis (FCGS) refers to more generalized inflammation. The entire mouth including gums, tongue, the roof of the mouth, and the insides of the mouth are affected by stomatitis. It is an extremely painful condition.
Stomatitis affects roughly 2% of the Maine Coon population. Factors that can predispose a cat to stomatitis include Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). Additional causes may include Calicivirus, Juvenile Onset Periodontitis, periodontal disease, and genetics.
Symptoms of Feline Stomatitis
- Bad breath
- Growling at food
- Turning head sideways when eating
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased grooming
Treatment for Stomatitis includes extraction of all dentition behind the upper and lower canine (fang) teeth. Sometimes treatment can include the extraction of all teeth in the mouth. Remove any plaque-retentive surfaces which can continue to trigger an overactive immune response.
Most cases have a positive response to therapy. Consequently, even if a cat has all of their teeth removed they can still eat soft food very well and live without pain.
How to Brush Maine Coon Teeth
For this particular blog entry, I went to YouTube to try to find some useful information about brushing your cat’s teeth. I watched a few videos and then I landed on this video from my favorite Cat Dad, Jackon Galaxy. He’s talking about the idea that brushing your cat’s teeth every day is unrealistic and offers some tips on other things you can do to help with dental health in your cats.
Veterinary Oral Health Council
We’re always trying to find solutions for our cats, whether preventative maintenance or a treatment plan to keep our Maine Coon’s teeth healthy and clean. There are tons of products on the market that “claim” to solve the problem.
Veterinary Oral Health Council exists to recognize products that meet pre-set standards of plaque and calculus (tartar) retardation in dogs and cats. Products are awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance following review of data from trials conducted according to VOHC protocols. The VOHC does not test the products itself. Regular use of products carrying the VOHC Seal will reduce the severity of periodontal disease in pets.
My veterinarian (the one who cares for all of my cats and kittens), recommended this website as a resource. The products that have their seal have actually been tested and proven to help with oral health. This is pretty cool, since you can read about their testing protocol and how a product earns their “Seal of Approval”.
As a convenience, I’ve included a list of Approved (and Sealed) Products that are recommended for gum and tooth health in your Maine Coon.
Products to Keep your Maine Coon Teeth Healthy and Clean
Nothing will replace the routine brushing (2 to 4 times weekly) of your cats teeth as the best way to keep plaque and tartar away. That isn’t a realistic approach for most people. Here are some of the recommended products that you can take to ensure your cat’s teeth and gums are healthy. NOTE: These products are listed with the VOHC Seal of Approval. I’m just listing them here in case you didn’t download the PDF 😉
Prevention is Better than the Cure
Regardless of what age your Maine Coon kitten or cat is, it’s always better to strive for a healthy mouth through preventative measures. In other words, If you notice that your kitten has any signs of feline gingivitis, periodontitis, or stomatitis, see your vet as soon as possible. If detected early, you might be able to keep it under control so that it doesn’t escalate and become problematic.
In addition to gum disease, read about some of the other common Maine Coon health issues.