A cat allowed out to hunt mice is likely to have better gums than a cat confined to the indoors and fed commercial cat food. Have you ever read about wild cats of any species with gum disease? I haven’t. But I am sure that you have read about the high incidence of gum disease in domestic cats. Although not in the top ten, it is one of the big problems with cat health and cat ownership.
I am sure that if you asked your vet what the most common reason for anaesthetising cats is, they’d quite possibly say gum disease. The bones and fur of the domestic cat’s natural prey is the best that nature can provide to maintain healthy gums.
I don’t really like to think of my cat crunching on a freshly killed mouse but his teeth are damned healthy. Yes, he is still young but I’d predict that his gums will remain more healthy for longer than my other beloved but now passed cat companions.
My cat is a great hunter. He regularly feeds on mice. He is dewormed. He has to be because mice can carry tape and round worms. That’s a negative aspect, certainly, but gum disease is a real problem for cat owners. It can actually end up killing a cat because vets have to anaesthetise cats to clean teeth, remove teeth and do periodontal work. There is a significant or at least notable risk of injury or death to a cat when placed under anaesthetic. It is something that cannot be ignored when deciding to have your cat’s teeth dealt with by a veterinarian.
Today my vet noted that Gabriel had healthy teeth and commented on the fact that his hunting improves gum health. I believe that you’ll find that a lot of vets agree that most feline tooth and gum disease can be avoided if a cat learns to eat bones. There is a danger from shards of bones but I think this is overemphasised. There is also the health hazard from eating raw chicken of salmonella poisoning. Also bone can get caught between the teeth in the roof of the mouth.
All these hazards are trumped by the benefits from a cat gnawing on bones. The ideal way to gnaw on bones is when the bones are inside a mouse. These bones are much lighter, thinner and easily broken in the jaws of a domestic cat. In fact, a domestic cat can crunch up the skull of a mouse with ease. There is almost no danger from bone shards under these circumstances. Throw in the mouse’s fur and you have effective teeth and gum line cleaning material.
These are just my thoughts; there is a hidden benefit to letting a cat go outside especially if he is a hunter. I know there are downsides too in respect of preying on endangered species such as some bird species. These downsides can be factored in when deciding to let your cat go outside or not. I am neither absolutely for or against letting cats go outside. It depends on the individual circumstances.
The biggest factor is road traffic. That’s obvious. Cats should never be let out when there is a busy road nearby.