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I have just adopted a six month old ginger cat. I have never had any pets before. The rescue from which I adopted the cat, made its cats eat a lot of dry food and about a can of wet food per day (half in morning and rest at night). It doesn't drink any water from the water bowl. I have read the answers to the question below

How do I motivate a cat to drink more water?

The accepted answer mentions to feed my cat wet food instead of dry food. The lady at the rescue told not to feed a lot of wet food as it might cause gingivitis. Is it true? Can wet food cause gingivitis to cats?

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In my experience a cat fed solely on wet food is more likely to have gingivitis issues than one fed a mix of dry and wet food, or solely dry food (which brings increased risks of dehydration).

In the wild, cats eat most of their prey and the chewing on bones helps to scrape tartar from their teeth (as does the fur/feathers/skin). Wet food doesn't provide that scraping, so if the cat doesn't have something it likes to chew on (or someone willing to brush its teeth), a cat fed entirely on wet food is likely to have problems with gingivitis.

I personally feed my cats a mixture - they have kibble available at all times, and get one small can of wet food each in the evenings. This seems to be working fairly well at keeping gingivitis at bay (there is a genetic component: although I've done this will all the cats I've had, some have had more tooth and gum issues than others). Raw bones (not cooked - cooking makes them brittle and likely to splinter) can also help.

Reference: http://www.vetinfo.com/preventing-gingivitis-in-cats.html

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  • Thanks for sharing your experience. Is the water from a can of wet food sufficient for my cat? It doesn't drink water from the water bowl. – Ram Oct 28 '14 at 11:52
  • @Srikanth Cats get water from their food, but I do catch my mine drinking water from their dish at night, so I wouldn't rule it out completely. – Spidercat Oct 28 '14 at 19:18
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If dry food cleaned cats teeth, we could stop brushing our own teeth and just eat pretzels (yum). The best food to feed your cat is wet food (for the hydration issues mentioned in the linked post) and then care for your pet's teeth separately.

The bacterial cause of gingivitis and periodontitis in humans and in all other animals in which it has been studied is firmly established, and specific species of predominantly gram-negative anaerobes have been implicated.

Gingivitis/stomatitis in cats, Williams CA, Aller MS. Blue Cross Animal Hospital, Fairfax, Virginia. The Veterinary Clinics of North America. Small Animal Practice [1992, 22(6):1361-1383]

Because gingivitis is caused by anaerobic bacteria, keeping your pet's teeth clean of plaque/tartar make it more difficult for the anaerobes to find an oxygen free location to latch onto and start multiplying. In addition, bacteria feeds on sugars, so if you feed your cat a low carb food (nearly impossible with commercial dry foods), there are significantly less carbohydrates to feed the bacteria.

For most cats, regular dental care (brushing at home, dental cleanings under anesthesia as necessary) is the only preventative for gingivitis (the exception are cats with an immune response to the bacteria, but that's still not caused by wet food).

I've tried a variety of dental treats, raw chicken necks, and other foods to try to affect the plaque/tarter in my cats' mouths, but nothing works better than brushing.

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Wet meat chunks, that the cat has to chew on are far better at cleaning teeth, than canned or pouched wet food. Dental kibble fed in conjunction with this helps. Raw chicken necks (chopped into bite size chunks) and chicken wings are also good for teeth but cats with gingivitis are not keen to eat them. Probiotics are also a must as it supports the immune system.

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