Gingivitis risk increases in cats fed a wet food diet, cats with orange coats, cats that don’t hunt prey, and cats reported to dribble whilst being stroked at age six months, according to new research.

Gingivitis is the first and only reversible stage of periodontal disease - one of the most common conditions diagnosed in cats - therefore early detection and management of gingivitis is vital for preventing disease progression.

A new study published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice, is the first to use prospectively collected data to estimate the prevalence of and risk factors for gingivitis in a cohort of domestic cats, using data from 860 cats aged up to six years enrolled in the Bristol Cats Study.

Gingivitis was found to be a common condition in cats aged up to six years, with prevalence increasing with age, from 24.5% in cats less than 12 months old, up to 56.3% in cats between five and six years old.

Odds of gingivitis in cats aged three to four years were higher in cats fed a wet only or mixed wet/dry diet compared to those on a dry only diet; cats not reported to hunt prey compared to reported hunters; cats reported to dribble whilst being stroked at age six months compared to reported non-dribblers; and cats with orange variants in their coat colour compared to non-orange cats. Sex was not found to be a risk factor for gingivitis.

Jess Williams, lead author of the study, said: “Periodontal disease is one of the most common conditions in cats, potentially causing issues with eating and behaviours like grooming. Our study showed that even young cats may have signs of gingivitis, so it is important to discuss and monitor dental health regularly and early on in a cat’s life, especially for those cats who may be more at risk.”

Implications for veterinary staff

The results of this study can help veterinary surgeons identify cats at greater risk of gingivitis and advise owners on dietary and oral healthcare recommendations to protect against gingivitis. This is particularly pertinent given the importance of early detection and management of gingivitis for preventing disease progression.

The study was funded by BSAVA PetSavers, the grant awarding arm of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association. It is funded solely by charitable donations and has invested more than 2.7 million in vital clinical research and training programmes over the past 50 years to advance clinical investigations into pet animal medicine and surgery. For further information visit: http://www.bsava.com/petsavers.

You can access the full study here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/...111/jsap.13737.