The Siamese cat is one of the most popular breeds in the United States. Their long slender body and distinctive coloring is easily recognized. While these cats were found naturally in nature, they have been bred to certain show standards since the beginning of the twentieth century.
The show standard Siamese has a very narrow or “wedge” shaped head. This can create problems for the cats while eating. The Siamese may be eating dry food and find that it goes right past the front canine teeth and back to the molars. They grind it a bit and swallow the kibble nearly whole. Some food manufacturers have found they do better with a kibble that is shaped like a donut. The donut catches on their teeth and the cats crunch through kibble surrounding the tooth and grind it down further before swallowing.
The problem of not fully chewing their dry food means that the dental advantage most cats get from their dry kibble is lost on the Siamese. Their teeth don’t get the work out that the teeth of other breeds get. Thus the Siamese is known for its problems with gingivitis.
Gingivitis is a disease that affects both humans and animals. The gums get very red and can get inflamed. This is caused by plaque that builds up. As bacteria mix in with the plaque, tartar can build up at the gum line causing gingivitis. The mouth and teeth can get sore and the cat may refuse to eat.
Gingivitis is commonly picked up at routine exams on the Siamese. At other times, the owner may notice the cat is refusing to eat. If gingivitis is untreated, the cat may start to loose teeth. The build up of bacteria and plaque in the mouth can exacerbate other illness and weaken the immune system.
Treatment for gingivitis is an ultrasonic scale and polish, which will put a halt to the gingivitis. It’s important for Siamese to be checked regularly for this disease. As it progresses in severity, cats can loose teeth to the disease. Most of the time, the teeth are pulled by the veterinarian at the time of the scale and polish.
A professional dental cleaning on a cat must be done under general anesthetic. Often the veterinarian looking in the cat’s mouth may see that there are oral problems but not be able to determine the extent until the cat is under anesthetic.
Some Siamese will allow the owner to brush their teeth and there are special products available for this process. Often the veterinarian will recommend certain types of food that have plaque reducing properties. Some Siamese refuse this food because they don’t like the crunching. Also, if they are inhaling crunchy food because of the shape of their mouth, this is minimally effective in the front, though it can help in the back.
Understanding the anatomy of the Siamese and the special needs of these cats is important. Frequent oral exams by the veterinarian and brushing the cat’s teeth can go a long way towards keeping the cat’s mouth free of gingivitis. Some owners have consulted with holistic veterinarians and find that their cats get good results with alternative treatments.
A Siamese is a wonderful cat. In general they are healthy, long lived cats. A little extra dental care is a small price to pay for a long happy life with a Siamese.