The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has published research which sheds light on the frequency, risk factors and linked health problems associated with periodontal disease in pet cats in the UK.

RVC researchers say that the VetCompass study is the largest ever carried out into dental disease in cats using veterinary clinical records.

The study investigated a sample of 18,249 cats randomly selected from a study population of 1,255,130 cats in the UK in 2019.

Periodontal disease was recorded in 15.2% of the sample making it the most common disorder. 

The cat breeds with the highest annual levels of this diagnosis were Siamese (18.7%), Maine Coon (16.7%) and British Short Hair (15.5%) as well as crossbreeds (15.4%).

The average bodyweight of cats with periodontal disease (5.7kg) was higher than for cats without periodontal disease (5.5kg).

The risk of periodontal disease rose steeply as cats got older, with cats aged 9 to 12 years being 6.7 times more likely to have periodontal disease compared with cats aged under 3 years.

Cats with periodontal disease were much more likely to have a range of other health conditions compared to cats without periodontal disease (x 1.8 risk).

These conditions included cardiac dysrhythmia (x 2.3 risk), ear discharge (x 2.3 risk) and hairball/furball (x 2.3 risk).

The researchers say that these findings suggest that periodontal disease should be acknowledged as a leading health and welfare issue in cats, and highlight the need for greater dental care in cats as they age. 

The study was supported by an award from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and Agria Pet Insurance.

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