Why do cats run away after chewing food?
Original Question: My cat Akira doesn’t have any teeth and her gums seem to be white and inflamed. Also, whenever she eats, she runs away after chewing. - Trisha
Thanks for your question.
There is only a little information in your question to help me answer but I could share a few thoughts. I’m not surprised that you say your cat runs away after chewing. This behaviour is commonly seen when a cat has significant oral pain. The process of eating or attempting to chew causes discomfort if there are oral lesions and it can cause a cat to turn away from its food and run. I would suspect that this detail indicates that your cat is experiencing pain in its mouth on a regular basis and it is interfering with her day to day quality of life.
The fact that you say she has no teeth makes me wonder how she may have lost them. Either they were extracted surgically due to advanced dental disease and age, or they fell out on their own. There is a condition that cats can get called feline stomatitis which is an inflammation of the oral tissues. It can occur for a few reasons such as a genetic issue or viral infection. It can lead to generalized inflammation in the mouth and severe dental disease-causing tooth decay and tooth loss. Some cats will have this condition from a young age. If your cat is older, it’s possible that poor dental health and tooth loss has occurred over time without a specific condition creating the problem. Keep in mind that there could always be a remnant of a tooth left behind allowing nerve exposure which could be causing the pain. Oral X-rays would be ideal to discover this.
Regardless of the cause, it sounds as though there is significant general oral pain. I would recommend that you have your veterinarian examine the area for any specific lesions contributing to the discomfort. Then you would consider treating with medication to reduce the reaction of the tissues, such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and pain medication. In the case of feline stomatitis, a specific treatment for a virus can be considered or for non-viral stomatitis, an immune-suppressing medication could be prescribed. Daily application of antibacterial gels have been indicated to reduce the bacterial load in the mouth and have shown some success.
I think it’s clear that something needs to be done to reduce the discomfort that your cat is experiencing. In the meantime, you could consider adding water to the food, letting it sit for a few minutes and softening it. This may reduce some of the pain your cat is experiencing.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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