, Newburyport, MA


October 12, 2012

Paw Prints: Cats are masters of disguise all year long


Fluffy’s gastrointestinal tract may not be healthy and he might need help to feel comfortable again.

If Fluffy’s appetite has changed, he’s trying to tell you something. A cat that is eating less is not feeling good. Something hurts. Maybe it’s his stomach, even if nausea isn’t causing him to vomit yet. Or maybe his tooth aches. When was the last time he had a professional dental cleaning with oral X-rays?

A common cause of appetite change in older cats is thyroid disease. Fluffy’s appetite may be up or down, depending on his thyroid level. Hyperthyroidism in cats over age 7 is common.

If your cat is losing weight, don’t assume his diet is finally working. Without professional help, indoor cats are notoriously difficult to successfully slim down. If Fluffy is suddenly winning the battle of the bulge, ask yourself what might be wrong.

Cats should not have stinky, fishy breath. Foul odor from your cat’s mouth indicates a problem. You may notice that his gums are red and inflamed.

By age 3, 80 percent of cats have periodontal disease. Another painful condition in cats’ mouths occurs when tooth pulp, the living nerve tissue inside the tooth, becomes exposed. This can happen when a tooth is broken, or when a hole develops in the tooth, called a Feline Oral Resorptive Lesion or FORL. Fifty percent of cats will develop painful FORLs during their lifetimes.

A common misperception is that if Fluffy is eating, then his mouth must not be hurting. Cats feel pain like we do. The difference is they don’t know something can be done about their toothache. They instinctively eat to survive. Some cats with painful mouths become finicky eaters. Others roll the food around in their mouths, trying to find a more comfortable place to chew. You may notice that the area around the bowl has become messier.

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