vet checking cat's mouth

Oral Health

Microbiome

Researchers find bacteria causing gum disease in cats

This is a critical first step to better understanding what causes periodontitis in cats and can help develop feline oral health products

Researchers at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition together with expert veterinary dentists and the Harvard affiliated Forsyth Institute have, for the first time, demonstrated the bacterial species associated with feline periodontitis. Periodontitis is one of the most commonly diagnosed health problems in cats, associated with inflammation of the gum and other tissues surrounding the teeth, causing pain and often, as a consequence, difficulty feeding. Despite this, very little was previously known about the bacterial species associated with the disease.

With the aim of addressing this knowledge gap, the researchers used the latest DNA techniques to characterise the bacterial populations present in the mouths of healthy cats, and cats with periodontitis. This research paved the way for the next stage of research where the profile of bacteria present in the oral cavities of cats, dogs and humans were compared. Importantly, it was discovered that the species of bacteria present in cats’ mouths were quite different to those found in humans and shared greater overlap with those found in dogs. This fundamental research is a critical first step towards an increased understanding of the causes of feline periodontitis and has important implications for the future development of feline oral health products; highlighting the fact that many active ingredients used to tackle oral health problems in humans may not be effective in cats.