Q: My cat Rani, who is seven years old, seems to have swollen gums with little bleeding. She also has bad breath. Please help.
— R Muthy, Bangalore
Dr KG Umesh: There are many oral and respiratory diseases that contribute to bad breath in cats. Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion, periodontal diseases and feline chronic gingivostomatitis (FCGS) are some of the common dental diseases seen in senior cats. Bacteria associated with dental tartar and dental pain due to diseased teeth and gums contribute to the bad breath and bleeding. Control of gingivitis (gums inflammation) should involve regular dental home care, including tooth brushing, use of oral antiseptics, special diets and chews. Professional periodontal therapy including tooth scaling and polishing may be required. Untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis which involves the irreversible destruction of the tissues supporting the teeth. Treatment of periodontitis requires professional periodontal therapy, including supra- and subgingival scaling and polishing, root surface debridement and teeth extraction in cases of advanced disease. Older cats should continue to receive regular dental cleanings and extractions to make sure good dental health is maintained. Take your cat to your vet ASAP.