Nine Lives, But Only One Set of Teeth

Jun 23, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

George, an 8 year old Domestic Short-hair cat, is in my practice today for a full-mouth extraction. This is an oral surgery that involves removal of all of his teeth.

George is a very fine young man, who to all outward appearances is the picture of health, with a beautiful shiny black coat. However, he has a very ugly mouth. George was brought in to see me because he was drooling. My exam showed that George had severe dental disease including loose teeth, teeth that were broken, and very severe wide-spread inflammation in his mouth called stomatitis. His gums were swollen, raw, and bleeding.

Just because your cat doesn’t act sick or painful doesn’t mean that they’re not, and haven’t been so for a very long time, as George has been. On occasion, my clients will tell me ‘My cat has never been to a vet before,’ or ‘But, she doesn’t act sick,’ or opine that ‘Cats don’t need regular check-ups.’ I inwardly cringe, when I hear such statements, as I reflect on the silent and needless suffering that I’ve witnessed in my patients over the years, George included.

Many cat owners fail to bring their cats in for regular exams, because, to their eyes, their little rascal appears to being going through life with stoicism and equanimity. These little creatures that we share our lives with, unfortunately, do a poor job of telling us when they are sick or in pain, and this is especially true of cats who suffer with hidden oral disease and its associated pain.

One very common condition that affects cats is a tooth resorptive lesion. Tooth resorption is a slow, painful, and irreversible process of destruction of the tooth. It leads to exposure of the sensitive inner structures on the tooth in a process that plays out over months to years, eventually leading to the tooth breaking. Pain in affected teeth is the theme throughout this process.

In addition, cats can suffer similar gum and periodontal diseases that affect humans. These may lead to problems in other areas of the body by providing a chronic source of infection and inflammation. Oral tumors and cancers can also occur. Catching these early problems is essential before they become major problems or before it becomes too late.

Cats may have nine lives, or appear to, but they only have one set of teeth.

Maintaining the health of your cat’s teeth and gums is one of the most important things that you can do to increase the quality and length of your cat’s life.  When was the last time you looked in your cat’s mouth? How would you know if she had a loose tooth, a hole in his tooth, severe pain, gingivitis, bleeding and swollen gums, or the beginnings of an oral tumor?

By bringing your cat in for regular and thorough exams, and addressing dental concerns as needed, not only will you be doing your part to lengthen his or her life, but you will also be going a long way to providing an improved quality of life.

I have experienced MANY instances of clients telling me how taking care of their cat’s mouth pain has changed their cat’s lives, attitude, and personality. Comments such as ‘She’s a totally different cat,’ and ‘He’s much more playful,’ are like music to my ears. As I watched George recover from his surgery, in our pediatric incubator earlier today, I felt good in the knowledge that he could look forward to a future without the pain of his past.

Dr Robert Marrazzo

Fellow, American Association of Feline Practitioners Owner and Founder of The Cat Hospital at Palm Harbor Throughout his life Dr. Marrazzo has had, and continues to develop a growing passion and love for cats, as well as an appreciation of their unique nature. He has dedicated his professional career to their care, and to learning more about them. After graduating from Cornell University, he attended the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, where he was mentored by Dr. Michael Schaer. He received his degree as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1988, and was awarded the Phi Theta Kappa Award for academic excellence in veterinary medicine and surgery.

After graduation, he actively sought out positions and externships that allowed him to work with leaders in the field of veterinary medicine. He has practiced in both internal medicine, and neurology / neurosurgery practices, and also has an extensive background in emergency medicine and surgery, and critical care.

He is an active supporter in local, state and national feline organizations including the American Veterinary Medical Association, The American Animal Hospital Association, Cornell Feline Health Center, The Veterinary Laser Surgical Society, and the American Veterinary Dental Society. He is most proud of his long affiliation with the American Association of Feline Practitioners, and currently serves on the Executive Board of that organization. He is active locally having volunteered at the Humane Society, and is a Past-President of the Pinellas Animal Foundation. He has been a regular contributor to Ask-A-Vet newspaper column, Healthy Cat Journal, and the Eastlake Heron.

Dr. Marrazzo enjoys continuing education and regularly attends seminars and conferences across the country each year focusing on the latest advancements in feline medicine and surgery. He also enjoys being an educator, not only for his client’s, but he also is currently an Adjunct Professor of Veterinary Medical Technology at St. Petersburg College, where he has discovered a new passion – teaching veterinary emergency and critical care to veterinary technician students.

He is very proud and excited that his two children, Christopher and Kimberly, are pursuing careers in veterinary medicine! He is allowed to share his home with four cats, Al, Gus, Bean, and Lefty, who lost his left ear in a car engine as a stray.

Dr. Marrazzo loves the outdoors and nature. He is an avid bicycle rider, enjoys kayaking, boating, reading mystery novels, and has special interests in history and archeology.

The Cat Hospital at Palm Harbor
2501 Alternate 19 North
Palm Harbor, FL 34683

Phone: (727) 785-2287
Fax: (727)785-2887
Email: staff@wespeakmeow.com

Website: http://www.bobcatdvm.com/
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