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Old 10-20-2009, 05:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Vet says Kitty needs teeth extracted

Hello,
I took Kitty (14 year old cat) to a new veterinary hospital today for her annual checkup. We moved about an hour away from her previous vet and I didn't want to stress her out in the car driving that far. The new vet seemed very nice and thorough. She showed me Kitty's teeth which are apparently in not so great shape. I'm feeling pretty bad about this as I've never had her teeth cleaned (didn't know I should have but suppose I ought to have known..) but my guilt is beside the point.

They are recommending she goes under anaesthesia to have her teeth cleaned and evaluated. She said that many of the teeth will likely need to be pulled but they won't know for sure of course until they can get a good look in there. When she showed me her teeth it was obvious there was redness and buildup.

I'm wondering if anyone has experience with having been told this and if it's common and healthy to put my cat through all of that stress and pain when she otherwise seems to be perfectly happy. I gather it can be dangerous if she gets an infection and that her teeth could be giving her pain. Although she does like to crunch on her dry cat food and bite her toy frog. I imagine if her teeth hurt her that much she wouldn't do either of those things..

My other concern is that in the past I've tried with no luck to get my cat to switch from Purina dry food to ANY other food. Preferably wet food but she won't even switch to another dry food brand. The vet says that cats don't chew their dry food anyway so she would be fine but I've also read on the internet that their gums have to heal and harden first. I'm worried that removing her teeth will cause her to not eat.

Thanks in advance for any ideas, stories, suggestions!!

-Laura & Kitty
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Old 10-20-2009, 06:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vet says Kitty needs teeth extracted

First...you should not feel guilty at all for not knowing that Kitty's teeth need to be cleaned. But you should be angry at your previous vet for not ensuring her teeth were taken care of. The vet is the one who should have told you when the teeth needed to be cleaned.

Teeth cleaning and extractions is very common with cats. Had your previous vet been on the ball, Kitty probably wouldn't need as many extractions, if any. But that's water under the bridge and you just have to deal with the current situation. Teeth issues not only affect the immediate mouth area, they can also cause a myriad of problems including heart problems. The bacteria from the mouth can get into the blood stream and cause all kinds of havoc. So you definitely need to get this done. Another reason to do it now is her age, the older they get the more risky going under anesthesia is. So do it now while she's younger and presumably healthier than she will be a year or two from now. Make sure to have a full senior blood work up done prior to the surgery to rule out any underlying issues that may make surgery riskier.

Most cats don't chew their dry food at all, so feeding her dry after the surgery shouldn't be an issue. But....wet food is so much better for her, especially as she ages. Have you tried any tricks to get her to eat wet? Toppers often work great...smush some pieces of kibble into the wet so she has to bite wet food with the kibble. Parmesan cheese, pieces of chicken (cooked or raw...raw is great for the teeth), crumbled freeze dried chicken, liver, beef, all meat baby food etc...basically anything she really likes might work. I've also just taken a finger full of the wet food and smushed it on the mouth...sometimes they just need to get a taste of it to realize it's not so bad.
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Old 10-20-2009, 08:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vet says Kitty needs teeth extracted

Thank you for your response, doodlebug. I appreciate the time you've taken to listen to me and offer your wisdom! I am annoyed at the old vet. I will likely call them and while being kind explain to them my situation even if the only good that comes out of it is that they keep an eye on other cats' teeth better.

As far as switching food I have tried several things although I am willing to try again. It has been at least 8 months since our last attempt. I tried putting the tiniest bit of wet food in with her Purina.. she sniffs it and looks at me like, "Mom, you've got to be kidding if you think I'm going to eat that." However, this was only a day or so after I tried mixing in a larger portion so she was aware of it. Maybe it would be time to try again starting with the tiny tiny portion. I also tried mixing in a little bit of Wellness dry food another time. After "hunger striking" for 12+ hours.. not touching her food, (I was ready to cave as I know they have to eat) she starts eating!! Upon closer examination she had actually picked up the Wellness brand food and dropped it outside of her food bowl as she ate, continuing to only eat the Purina pieces. What a brat I'm thinking Purina must put some sort of crack in their food.

Do you think she would be able to continue to eat her Purina right after the surgery? Even with a sore mouth? She does like to crunch it on the side of her mouth although I can tell from her occasional vomit that she pretty much just swallows it whole. Thanks again, Doodlebug.
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Old 10-20-2009, 08:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vet says Kitty needs teeth extracted

laurachristin, your cat sounds like my Babette. If we tried to feed her different dry food than Purina she would eat around it too. Mine loved Fancy Feast wet food though and gladly would have eaten that 24/7 if I let her. I don't know what the nutrition content of FF is though.

Babette, also had a couple of teeth extracted because the vet found an abscess. I had no idea that cat's teeth needed cleaning or that dry food didn't clean their teeth (or those treats) and our vet never told us that either.... so I'll also tell you not to feel guilty about it. Which I know is easier said than done when it comes to a beloved animal.

Babette was about 9 years old when she had the teeth out. The week afterward was not fun. She needed pain medication and antibiotics. Luckily I could hide medication in the fancy feast. But she went back to the dry Purina after that week and was fine eating it.

My brother's cat had a few teeth removed and the cat did lose some weight because he didn't eat as much dry food, but the cat was fat to start with. My brother started mixing dry and wet and that cat was fine also.

If you really want her to eat wet food, or are very concerned, you may just have to keep looking for a flavor of wet food that your cat likes... maybe buy some tiny tins of different flavors until she settles on one.
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Old 10-20-2009, 08:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vet says Kitty needs teeth extracted

You're welcome!

I think that she'll realize she's sore and not try to crunch the food. That's funny about picking out the Wellness dry food. I've seen my cats eat around something they didn't like, but never pick it up and toss it out of the bowl!

What wet foods have you tried? Fancy Feast is the kitty crack of wet foods. Not the best stuff, but better than an all dry diet. Also, do you free feed dry? If yes, then you definitely need to pick that up like at least 8 hours before attempting to feed wet. You want her hungry when you put it down.
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Old 10-20-2009, 10:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vet says Kitty needs teeth extracted

Salsachick: Thank you for the support It's hard to realize you haven't done the right thing for your pet who trusts you and can't tell you what they need! But I know all I can do is do right by her now that I know. I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one who didn't realize cats don't need dental work! Kitty isn't tiny so she's got some extra fat to her but I know that she still needs to eat a normal diet. She can't live off her fat reserves

Doodlebug: It's neat how cats have such fun, different personalities. I did laugh pretty hard when I saw the lengths she went to to get the Wellness out of her bowl. She also has a stuffed animal that she carries around the house when one of us leaves. She cries like she's trying to round up her babies because one of us has wandered off. It's a little tiger and she only picks it up on the one side. She's a crack up. I can't remember off the top of my head the specific brands of wet food I tried. When I go to the grocery store next I will check it out and I'm sure I will remember once I see the labels. I do remember trying at least two different brands and several different flavors. I have also tried to give her little pieces of tuna (from a can) and cooked chicken but she sniffs and is not interested. The only thing she likes other than her Purina is Friskies Hairball Remedy soft treats. She LOOOOVES them. Probably rotted her teeth. Thank you for the suggestion of picking up her food bowl. I hadn't thought of that. I do free dry feed (I assume this means there is always at least some food in her bowl) so that's a great suggestion, thank you. When I tried my wet food attempts I would have to keep putting fresh food in because she ignored it for hours on end and it went gross. Genius idea of getting her hungry first

The other thing that I was just thinking of while we were snuggling on the couch that I did not mention to the vet but now will is over the past year there have been three instances of Kitty going into a really deep sleep and we (my boyfriend and I) had a harder than normal time waking her up. I won't bore you with details unless you are interested but basically we would touch her and gently shake her and she was limp and completely unresponsive but then would wake up and act totally fine. I'm wondering if this puts her at any kind of elevated risk with the anesthesia.

I'm full of what ifs and worries. Good luck to me when I have human children

Laura
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Old 10-21-2009, 01:05 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vet says Kitty needs teeth extracted

Hi, Laura,

When I took Cinderella for her first check-up after she adopted me, she was 4 and had to have her four front lower tiny teeth pulled. I was shocked! Apparently, she has bad teeth. When she did have her teeth pulled, she was fine with eating after a couple days, but it really depends on which teeth are pulled. The ones she lost didn't really affect her. One year later, she had build-up and gingivitis again, and I was told she would have to have more teeth pulled, but they wouldn't know how many until they got in there, like they told you. Fortunately, she was fine and didn't have to have any pulled.

I will say, my whole experience with Cinderella's first dental procedure made me switch vets.

P.S. You think getting a cat off dry food is bad, try getting them off canned tuna. Not cat food, actual Chicken of the Sea tuna! That's what Cinderella was being fed when we met.
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Old 10-21-2009, 10:23 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vet says Kitty needs teeth extracted

Yes, unfortunately it's all too common. I've always been very good about getting dentals done for my cats and dogs -- and I assumed that dentals were a necessary part of pet ownership. Now that I'm feeding raw, however, I VERY much doubt that I will ever have to do another dental (other than Sophie (dog) who is 11 and whose teeth are already messed up beyond fixing and who, being a bit of a wimp, refuses to eat much bone).

Lincoln (cat), age 11, was about to have his first dental last year. His teeth had been reasonably clean up to that point, but at his appt in Nov., the vet said it was probably time -- tartar buildup, a little redness, etc. I planned to do it in the Spring.

In Feb. I switched everyone to raw -- the instigator was not Lincoln but Calvin, who had IBD. Not only did Calvin's IBD disappear entirely w/in 2 weeks, but within 8 weeks EVERYONE (except Sophie) had perfectly clean teeth. And by "clean" I mean GLITTERINGLY white, as they looked when they were puppies and kittens. NO tartar at all; NO redness. Just shining white choppers.

Took Lincoln back to the vet (new vet) recently, who stared at me in surprise when I told him that previous vet said he'd need to have his teeth cleaned this Spring. "WHY?" he asked. "They look great -- it will be YEARS before they need to be done. He's just . . . " and he glanced at the chart for Lincoln's age. "He's ELEVEN??!?!!"

That was when I told him the raw story. Most vets are so indoctrinated by Hill's and Royal Canin that they are anti-raw, but between my animals' obvious great condition and those amazing teeth, he didn't really have much to say.

Don't mean to derail things here, but I think it's vital that we work to get OFF the dental bandwagon. In the case of the OP's cat, yes, a dental IS needed and teeth probably WILL have to be pulled. But then try to amend the diet to prevent further damage, as well as further risky sedations. Even toothless cats handle raw well. In my dog Sophie's case, it's more her personality that prevents her from dealing w/ bone than anything else -- she is just not "pushy" about ANYTHING in life. And if you can't convert your kitty, at least start thinking about it now for the next one(s). It is AMAZING what chewing through muscle, gristle, and bone does for the teeth (not to mention the rest of the cat). Lincoln is living proof!
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vet says Kitty needs teeth extracted

Thank you all for your feedback!! I feel so lucky to have found this forum

Okay so I am definitely going forward with the dental regardless of cost. However, I'm looking around the internet at "Cat Dental Prices" and am seeing some REALLY low numbers compared to what my vet quoted me. I understand that everyone's situation is different, but can anyone tell me if this is normal or insane?? I will probably call around to other local hospitals to see as well. I am in San Diego, CA where everything is $$$$$.

We're looking at:

FE CBC/Chem/Amyl/t4/FeLV/FIV 8044 bloodwork tests - $107
Cystocentesis - $14
Ultrasound guided-only if needed $17
Urinalysis pre dental- $38

That's the "pre" stuff.. then on day of they seem very thorough which I'm glad for. Anesthesia monitoring, surgical tech, fluids & iv, dental complete scale polish, dental fluoride, radiographs, nerve blocks, extractions, gingival incisions, post care and monitoring, & drugs cost ranging from $589.51 - $1444.21 (on top of pre dental) depending on how severe of a case she is.

(I didn't bother to itemize everything or mention everything they are doing because I type fast but didn't want to go overboard.)

Thanks everyone,
Laura & Kitty
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vet says Kitty needs teeth extracted

Thatís expensive! I live in San Francisco where the cost of living is high as well, and when my vet quoted $700 - $1100 for cleaning and two extractions, I shopped around. I used Yelp.com and found a quality vet that did it for a total of $230.

You do want to find a good quality vet as anesthesia is a little risky for an older cat. I now take my cat every 6 months for non-anesthesia cleaning at only $50 a pop. That maintains her until she needs more thorough cleaning and/or extractions.
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