A cat with a bad mouth is in misery, and a pet owner or show exhibitor who finds it necessary to extract all of the teeth in their cat’s mouth to give it some relief from suffering bears a burden financially while losing some measure of enjoyment in the angora cat as a companion or show animal. In severe cases, dental and mouth disease problems can lead to euthanasia to alleviate untreatable suffering.
Feline dental problems include feline periodontal disease, feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (called FORL), gingivitis/stomatitis, and fractured teeth. As breeders, we have the ability to affect the dental health of our turkish angora cats with careful breeding practices and the good home and veterinary care.
When breeding any two individuals in a cattery program, the breeder decides whether this is a good breeding. Parameters used to make this decision should not only include beauty and personality, but also a careful assessment of inherited tendencies towards health. These evaluations should include HCM screening and the history of ancestors regarding HCM, the history or status of ancestors regarding ataxia, and the tendencies seen in the dental health records of the selected parents and grandparents that are to produce the new litter, to name a few factors.
Periodontal disease occurs when tartar builds up around the base of teeth, affecting the gums as well. Regular dental care, as instructed by a veterinarian, should be performed to control periodontal disease. Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORL) are lesions on the tooth surface, similar to “cavities” in humans. They develop as part of the periodontal disease, or on their own. Most FORL cases result in extraction of the tooth. Most cases of feline gingivitis/stomatitis syndrome are thought to be resulting from an overexaggerated oral immune system response to plaque bacteria. Breeding practices that lead to a well-balanced immune system should help the breeder with this problem when it shows as a tendency in a particular bloodline. Avoiding weak immune systems due to inbreeding or poor selection of breeders, and avoiding allergic immune system problems will help the breeder with the building of a healthy bloodline of Turkish Angoras.
Breeding animals in a cattery should be examined on a regularly scheduled basis to determine the state of their dental health. Appropriate treatment of any problems found should be given. Careful records should be kept that record the types of diseases found, as well as the frequency and type of preventive and prophylactic measures that are necessary for maintaining the oral health of any individual in the breeding program. The number of angora cats kept in a cattery should not exceed the ability of the owner to provide this exam, care, and record keeping.
When evaluating the dental health records and watching these tendencies on pedigrees, the careful breeder will find that there are genetic tendencies at work in the areas of periodontal disease, FORL, and gingivitis/stomatitis syndrome. Some cats will require very frequent cleaning to keep a healthy mouth while others will progress towards dental/mouth diseases at a slower rate. Over the years, the breeder will enjoy fewer dental problems in the bloodline that has been managed with these tendencies in sight.