Characterized by red, swollen gums, gingivitis is quite common in cats, occurring in up to 90 percent of cats once they pass their fourth birthday. The good news about the earliest phase of gum disease is that it's reversible with proper care. There are a variety of home remedies for feline gingivitis you can use to keep your cat's teeth and gums in good working order.
The scoop on inflamed gums
The gum pocket surrounding a tooth is more formally known as the gingival sulcus. As the familiar name implies, it's the small space between the inside of the gum and the tooth.
Your cat eats daily, likely without brushing her teeth. Plaque forms on her teeth and under her gums. Over time, her gums respond by swelling while the accumulated bacteria in her gum pockets release toxins that destroy the gingival tissue.
And so it is that she has gingivitis, marked by inflamed gums, bad breath and plaque, and calculus on her teeth. Old age, soft food, crowded teeth and diseases such as diabetes and autoimmune disease also can cause gingivitis. Traditional veterinary treatment often entails teeth cleaning and occasionally, extraction.
Home remedies for feline gingivitis
Natural supplements offer a variety of options to minimize inflammation and act as anti-microbials. If your cat's gums are inflamed or bleeding, a cotton swab of tincture of calendula, feverfew, or echinacea generously applied to your cat's gums two to three times a day will give her relief.
Grapefruit seed extract is anti- many things: bacterial, fungal, inflammatory, microbial, and parasitic, making it one of the ideal home remedies for feline gingivitis. Mix two drops with a teaspoon of coconut oil or with a tablespoon of water to make a solution to be applied to her gums with a cotton swab two or three times daily. When you choose your tinctures, be sure to use alcohol-free versions.
Serve helpful foods
Dr. Karen Becker of HealthyPets.com notes that diet can help inflammatory dental issues in cats. She recommends feeding an anti-inflammatory diet that eliminates biologically unnecessary foods for cats, including carbohydrates and starches.
You also can try some of your own food on your cat, such as apples—no seeds, please—carrots or celery, which clean the teeth and remove bacteria. If your cat likes a bit of fruit, specifically citrus, melons, and berries, offer her a little spoonful—vitamin C creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria.
Other options include sprinkling Ceylon cinnamon on his food to help dissolve food particles and a tablespoon of fresh mint, peppermint, cilantro and spearmint to inhibit bacterial growth.
Improve bad breath
Your cat's gingivitis also means his breath probably isn't minty-fresh. Home remedies for this result of gingivitis can be effective at washing bad odor away.
A mixture of two tablespoons of warm water and 1/8 teaspoon of Ceylon cinnamon squirted into your cat's mouth with an eye dropper will freshen her breath.
Echinacea and goldenseal are also effective but require more work to prepare. Both are mixed with water, microwaved, cooled for an hour, and strained.
Keep in mind that bad breath can come from more than gingivitis; liver, kidney, gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses are often associated with halitosis, so you should discuss your cat's bad breath with your vet.
Brushing up oral hygiene practices
Brushing your cat's teeth is the best natural remedy for her good dental health according to VCA Hospitals. It's best to get your cat used to it at a young age; however, cats can learn to accept and even enjoy tooth brushing at any age.
Start slowly with a cotton ear swab dipped in juice from a tuna can. The tuna juice doesn't have any gingivitis-killing effects; it's just a pleasant taste that your cat will learn to associate with you cleaning her teeth.
Rub the swab over just a few teeth to start and increase your time with the tuna swab each day. Once she learns to accept the swab, switch over to a toothbrush designed for felines dipped in tuna juice for a day or two.
Don't use human toothpaste as your cat will find it unpleasant and possibly get sick from it. Instead, use veterinary toothpaste for cats which comes in flavors such as chicken or mint. Brush each side of her mouth for about 30 seconds, advises International Cat Care.
If your cat doesn't take to the toothpaste initially, put a dab on her nose and let her lick it off. She'll eventually become accustomed to the taste and texture.
Wear rubber gloves if possible. Cat's mouths are full of bacteria and a nip that breaks the skin could result in a nasty infection. Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after brushing her teeth
Use veterinary intervention
Depending on the extent of your cat's gingivitis, he may need to see the vet for a professional cleaning so he can start with a clean slate on a new dental regimen. If he has an abscessed tooth, difficulty eating, or mouth ulcers or cysts, she should visit her vet to ensure she does not become sicker and that there's not a more serious illness causing her problems.