I have an almost 20-year old female cat cat (spayed if it matters) that was a rescue and has lived with me for the last 10 years or so. She is pretty much deaf now (this doesn't bother her really). Over the last month or two she started drooling quite a bit - usually when she's eating or right after food.

She almost completely stopped eating dry food and only eats wet food pouches now. She's also more than a little keen on cooked chicken (as she's always been). When she's eating, she's quite a bit messier now than before, with food now strewn about on the floor near her plate.

She still eats and drinks though and the rest of her behaviour hasn't really changed - she's just as agile (can easily steal chicken from the kitchen counter and come back from a walk through a second storey window) and cuddly (would jump on your lap as soon as you sit down, just like 10 years ago).

May or may not be related, this drooling started soon after another cat that lived in the house had passed away. The two lived together for the better part of the last 15 years.

We have taken her to the vet, who stated that the problem is most likely due to teeth pain and gave us an estimate of about £1000, which includes all sorts of x-rays and extracting 6 teeth under a general anaesthesia. He also said that should have done teeth cleaning every few years - and completely ignored my response that they've been seeing the cat for 10 years and have done this themselves a few times.

I am not completely trusting this vet, and I certainly can't afford to spend that kind of money. Yet, I want to help her as much as I can. So, what can I do at home to help relieve her tooth ache?

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You might seek a second opinion or the opinion of a cat dental specialist, but, with the full disclosure that I'm not a veterinarian, I think it likely this information is correct. Having some dental issues, especially in old cats, is pretty common, and drooling and eating messily can definitely be signs of tooth pain, which may be an indication of dental disease.

As said on Vet 101, " Dental cleaning and surgery are the only ways to resolve dental disease." In the short term, there may be ways to address the pain, or alleviate the infection, but these do not address the root cause of the problem. As also discussed on Vet 101, not doing anything at the least will put tremendous strain on the cat's entire body. Not explicitly mentioned is that it can also lead to even worse problems such as organ damage from the infection spreading. Therefore, once dental disease has set in, there really isn't an alternative but to do the surgery, which normally is pretty costly, unfortunately.

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