Red Gums Can Be a Concerning Sign in Cats - Here's What You Need to Know

Jenna Wirth
tmp_sobgnX_7d4c2fc27991ed95_cat_yawning.jpeg
tmp_sobgnX_7d4c2fc27991ed95_cat_yawning.jpeg

Fun fact: the color of your sassy furball's gums can tell you many things about their health. That's why it's so important for pet owners to monitor their cats' mouths. Your cat should have a light-pink-colored gum line throughout the mouth, said Michelle Burch, DVM, veterinary writer and adviser at Catological. Any other color in your kitty's mouth may indicate dental problems. In particular, red gums may signal your cat has a chronic disease of the mouth.

But what causes dental diseases in cats? And how are they treated? POPSUGAR turned to the experts to help us understand more about red gums in cats and ways to maintain cat dental health.

Related: Cats Are the First Pets to Test Positive For the Coronavirus in the US, So Now What?

How to Tell If Your Cat Has Coronavirus
How to Tell If Your Cat Has Coronavirus

What Causes Red Gums in Cats?

If your cat's gums are red, they could have gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), Dr. Burch said. Gingivitis is most commonly caused by the accumulation of plaque, resulting in inflammation and irritation along the gum line. Plaque is the result of leftover food particles and bacteria that collect on the teeth, she said. Some common symptoms include bad breath and bleeding of the gums.

If left untreated, the bacteria along the tooth will then invade the bone and ligaments surrounding the root, causing gingivitis to progress to periodontal disease, Dr. Burch said. This buildup of plaque and continuous inflammation can result in pocketing next to the tooth root, loose teeth mobility, gum recession, and pain.

Cats with stomatitis (inflammation of the entire mouth) may also have red gums, Dr. Burch said. The cause of stomatitis is thought to be an immune response to the plaque on the teeth. Because of this, cats with feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus tend to have a higher risk of stomatitis, she said. Besides redness and swelling along the gum line, signs of stomatitis include difficulty eating, weight loss, decreased grooming, and drooling.

What Can I Do to Treat My Cat's Red Gums?

Gingivitis and stomatitis are both initially diagnosed with an oral examination by your veterinarian, said Jessica Kirk, DVM, a veterinary writer for Vet Explains Pets. If your veterinarian believes your cat may have periodontitis, X-rays of the teeth will be performed so that any potential damage below the gum line and inside the teeth can be seen.

Treatment for these dental diseases varies depending on the severity and cause of the disease, Dr. Kirk said. But routine dental cleanings are often done to remove plaque and dangerous bacteria buildup. Pain management, administering antibiotics or immunosuppressive drugs, and affected tooth extractions are other possible treatments, she said.

Thankfully, gingivitis, stomatitis, and some of the earlier stages of periodontitis are reversible, Dr. Kirk said. However, if periodontitis is not addressed promptly or treated appropriately, it can result in tooth loss.

How Can I Provide Proper Dental Care For My Cat?

Looking after your cat's teeth is extremely important. In addition to brushing your cat's teeth, Dr. Kirk recommends a licensed veterinarian performing routine dental cleanings at least once a year. Some cats may even require cleanings on a more regular basis depending on their oral-health needs. There are also products, such as treats, feeds, and water additives, that may help to slow the rate of plaque and tartar buildup, Dr. Kirk said.

More From

  • Buzz Cuts Are the Badass Haircut Trend That Is Going to Be Everywhere This Fall

    It's wild how much we take the little luxuries like getting a haircut or mani-pedi for granted - we don't notice how much it affects us and our overall mood until we can't do it. Even with the recent reopening of hair salons after the hiatus in spring and early summer, we still haven't fully resumed business as usual. That's why this fall's haircut trends are being dominated by simple, uncomplicated styles that require little-to-no upkeep - and it doesn't get more uncomplicated than a buzz cut. "With not being able to get to salons frequently, most people will opt for cuts that look fly without the commitment of major upkeep," said Larry Sims, celebrity hairstylist and cofounder of Flawless by Gabrielle Union , adding that buzz cuts are among the lowest-maintenance options out there. "As we've adapted to our new 'normal,' people are wanting to use this time to get rid of damaged hair and old energy. Cutting it all off feels fresh and new." Think about it this way: if a simple trim can leave you feeling so weightless and renewed, just imagine how you'll feel after getting a buzz cut. It doesn't require regular touchups at the salon, and even if it does grow out too much, you can do what Bruce Willis did for his daughter Tallulah and shave it off at home. If you're still on the fence about this fall haircut trend, allow the buzz-cut ideas ahead to change your mind.

  • A Therapist Reveals Important Conversations People Should Have More During Therapy

    @mashmushe What are you scared to tell your therapist? tiktoktherapist tiktokpartner learnontiktok therapist ♬ Acoustic Guitar Stroll - Dow Brain It can take time to find the right therapist.

  • While You Prepare For Trinkets Season 2, Remember That We're Not Getting More Episodes

    The Netflix teen drama Trinkets is back for a second season, but it's also going to be the last one. So why did Netflix chose to end Trinkets?

  • I'm Thinking of Ending Things: If Netflix's Adaptation Follows the Book, Brace Yourself

    Charlie Kaufman's film adaptation of Ian Reid's unsettling debut novel, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, is set to premiere on Netflix in September. While the movie adaptation, starring Jessie Buckley, Tony Collette, and Jesse Plemons, may differ from the novel, the novel is about an unnamed woman who goes to meet her boyfriend's parents at their farm.