Friday, November 5, 2010

Much Ado About Cat Teeth

Well, Nikki went back to the vet Wednesday for what was hopefully her last visit for a good long while.

(The picture below really has nothing to do with the rest of this post; it was taken last week when she was sleeping in my bathrobe on the couch, and I just thought it was very cute.)

Anyhow, this vet visit was to get her dental stuff dealt with...Nikki needed a cleaning, x-rays, and close examination of her broken tooth. This meant she needed general anaesthesia, which always scares me (I have a possibly-irrational phobia about people not waking up from it) but according to the vet she "bounced back" really quickly after the procedure.

(This doesn't surprise me. Nikki has Constitution +5, at least. It also didn't surprise me when the tech informed me, after the fact, that until the sedation had kicked in, Nikki had given them quite a heck of a difficult time...she is nothing if not assertive!)

They also did a urine test, as they'd not been able to do that when Nikki had been in last time because she had just used the litterbox before that appointment and didn't have any pee in there for them to take!

Anyway, the urine test came back totally normal, so between that and her recent blood test values it looks like she's quite thoroughly healthy from a systemic standpoint. No sign of anything pointing to diabetes or kidney disease or any of the other maladies cats become more prone to as they get older.

As for her teeth...they're clean and polished now, which is definitely a good thing. Poor tooth and gum condition can lead to all kinds of other health problems in cats, not to mention mouth pain. I've actually been wondering for a while if some of Nikki's extremely finicky and fickle eating habits have been due to some issue with her teeth, so while I'm not holding my breath, it will be interesting to see if she eats more consistently now.

Nikki's broken fang-tooth is also gone now...I'm sorry she had to lose it, but the detailed exam revealed that the root was basically gone, meaning the tooth was "dead". It's not healthy to keep a dead tooth in one's mouth as it can result in buildup of anaerobic bacteria where the pulp used to be, in addition to the fact that dead teeth are more likely to become brittle and crack and hurt and have to be taken out later on anyway. So I am at least glad we got that taken care of now rather than later.

Also...when I went to pick up Nikki in the afternoon, once she'd recovered enough from the sedation (Matt's mom, who is awesome, provided transportation for my non-driving self), the vet tech asked me if I wanted to see the tooth they'd removed. Of course I said yes...I was really curious!

They handed me the tooth in a test tube labeled with Nikki's name (see photos below).

It's huge! Even with the tip broken off the whole thing is nearly an inch long. It's hard to believe more than half of a tooth that size actually fit in Nikki's jaw...she isn't a big cat, and (despite the noises she's capable of generating) doesn't have a very big mouth.

I am not sure what I will do with the tooth other than keep it as a weird random thing to look at, but (as I mentioned to the vet tech), wouldn't it be kind of cool to drill a hole in it and make it into a collar charm for Nikki to wear? I could just see her trotting along her patrol routes being all "I BROKE THIS TOOTH IN A FIGHT. YOU DO NOT WANT TO F&$# WITH ME!"

But I don't know if I'll actually do that. It would definitely suit her, though!

They also shaved part of one of her front legs to put the IV in, so she'll have another area of hypercolor fur in a while.

The bad part of having had the tooth removed (even though ultimately I agree with the vet it was for the best, given it was dead and hence a health risk for Nikki) is that now she has to take antibiotics for a while. For her abscessed side wound (which is actually totally healed now, thank goodness) they were able to inject a single dose of some really powerful germkiller, but apparently that sort of thing isn't given for the purpose of warding off post-tooth-extraction infections.

Hence, she is on an oral suspension of Clavamox which has to be stored in the refrigerator and shaken well prior to administration. The main annoying thing about this is that it obviously has a flavor (one that Nikki, predictably, hates) and must be given in 1 mL doses. I've ended up having to wrap her in a towel with just her head poking out in order to actually get the syringe anywhere near her mouth. Which I hate doing because she seems very obviously insulted by the whole ordeal, but I really don't want her getting another infection, least of all right in her mouth.

[I do have to wonder what those pharmaceutical people are thinking making a medication for cats in what (judging by the smell) seems to be "Banana Creme" flavor. Nikki, I'd wager, would much prefer something more along the lines of "Poached Salmon in Cheese Sauce"!]


  1. I noticed that problem with the flavoring a long time ago. It is possible to find tuna-flavored cat meds in some places, and Fey did seem to prefer those to the cherry or banana or mint flavored ones that they inexplicably make.

  2. CPP: Indeed, I certainly thought so! I am still boggled that it managed to fit in her jaw.

    Amanda: Oh wow interesting. I will definitely ask the vet about flavor choices next time anyone has to take liquid meds in any quantity. (Nikki was on pain meds for a while and I have no clue what that tasted like, as it didn't smell like anything and looked like clear liquid. But the dose quantities were tiny so she didn't mind that so much.). Pills might also actually end up being easier...when I had to give everyone worm medication the pills turned out to be way easier than the liquid; the liquid seemed to be cherry or some other "fruit candy" flavor, and *nobody* was okay with that...

  3. I'm glad that tooth isn't going to be causing her problems now! Actually, I've been surprised that our vet hasn't wanted to do anything about Punkin's broken teeth so far. She got top and bottom fangs on one side broken along with her jaw several years ago, and she keeps bad breath from that now. :( I keep being concerned that if it doesn't hurt now--and I've been watching for indications that it does--it will eventually cause pain. Not to mention the possibility of other health problems. I was surprised the specialist didn't remove the stump of one when he pieced her jaw back together. Next time she goes to the vet's, I think we should press the matter.

    Yeah, I've noticed the strange flavors of cat and dog medications. They really don't make much sense from a "make them want to swallow it" perspective. The only apparently tasty one I've seen was some hairball paste, and ISTR it was tuna-flavored.


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