Focus on feline dental care and its effect on overall health: A roundtable discussion (Sponsored by Greenies)

Focus on feline dental care and its effect on overall health: A roundtable discussion (Sponsored by Greenies)


Feline dental care is an often-neglected area of veterinary medicine. For cat owners, oral home care and the dental procedures recommended by their veterinarians are often a source of stress and misunderstanding. A group of veterinary professionals recently gathered to discuss why feline dental care is important to their patients' overall health, how to effectively encourage cat owners to seek regular veterinary care, and what to focus on to provide the best services possible for their clients and patients.


Karyl Hurley DVM, DACVIM, DECVIM-CA, Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, Leicestershire, England
Dr. Karyl Hurley: Welcome everybody. Today we will be talking about feline oral health and care. Let's start with the importance of regular veterinary visits. Recent information shows that cats visit veterinarians less than dogs do. Why are people less likely to seek veterinary care for their cats?


Margie Scherk DVM, DABVP (feline), CatsINK, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Dr. Margie Scherk: The two main reasons people don't take their cats to the veterinarian are, one, cats show such subtle signs of illness that owners don't recognize they are sick and, two, it is no fun to take cats to the clinic. Our challenges as veterinarians are to educate people that cats do need our help, to provide an environment that is more cat friendly, and to teach owners how to bring their cats into the clinic in a way that is less traumatic for the cats and clients. A number of feline wellness guidelines and programs are available through various organizations. The Morris Animal Foundation and the CATalyst Council are two. Healthy Cats for Life, a campaign of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), is another. The Feline Advisory Bureau provides information, and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) in conjunction with the AAFP has developed well-cat guidelines. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) website is another source of information on feline health and wellness. All of these groups suggest that cats—even healthy cats—be seen twice a year.


Richard Goldstein DVM, DACVIM, DECVIM-CA, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
Dr. Richard Goldstein: We are in a transition phase from the vaccination schedule driving the frequency of veterinary visits to a better way: biannual check-ups based on age and wellness.

Debbie Boone: I'm working with several practices as a consultant, changing their protocols to focus on risk factors and wellness rather than annual vaccinations. We need to educate clients about bringing cats in for healthy cat visits. The other important factor is improving the experience for both owners and cats. Perhaps there needs to be a focus on proper handling of cats to ensure a friendlier visit.