These are some pertinent details: Cat 8 years old, not eating for 2 days now. Sleeping more than usual and not usual playful self. Dry mouth
I need a reply right away? We’re terrified for our cat.
Please contact with suggestions at:
ps*******************@ho*****.com (note: MikeB deleted the email address as this is a resolved and closed issue but the information has been upgraded). See response below the picture.
RELATED: Why is my cat lethargic? 20 reasons.
Response from Michael. I am not a veterinarian. Please see a vet.
Your cat seems to be dehydrated hence the dry mouth. In this instance you do not mention that the cause might be diarrhea. But dehydration is caused by a loss of both water and electrolytes (minerals such as sodium, chloride and potassium).
This loss is due to inadequate fluid intake. This in turn is probably due to not eating or drinking. Cat food is 80% water. Fever increases the loss of water. Your cat is lethargic (sleepy) indicating that (s)he may have a temperature.
The gums are tacky and dry to the touch. The saliva is thick. If your cat is “noticeably dehydrated” (s)he should receive “prompt veterinarian attention”.
The vet will ascertain the cause and treat that plus threat the dehydration. An electrolyte solution can be given by bottle or syringe to the cheek pouch. A balanced electrolyte solution for children acceptable.
In the US, Ringer’s lactate with 5 percent Dextrose in water and solution of Pedialyte is suitable for a cat.
Decreased saliva production will naturally cause a dry mouth. There is a condition called xerostomia which refers to dry mouth. It’s a condition which affects people as well. Cats with this condition can have a reduced or variable appetite. It can result in a heavy film of plaque and tartar without the saliva’s cleansing action. It will also affect grooming because as we know cats use their saliva to groom themselves. And cats with the condition may do more than the usual amount of licking their lips. The condition is more likely to be seen in elderly cats with renal failure.
What causes xerostomia? East Valley Animal Hospital tells me that there are several possible causes of dry mouth and cats namely: anxiety or stress, medical side effects, severe dehydration, nerve damage, and endocrine (hormonal) disorders such as hypothyroidism and as mentioned kidney failure, or liver or pancreas damage.
You will certainly have to see a veterinarian if you can’t eliminate dehydration which should be fixable with plenty of water to drink and taking your cat off a dry food diet. Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins DVM who wrote the book Your Cat believed that the popularity of dry cat food has resulted in a substantial percentage of domestic cats being mildly dehydrated sometimes or perhaps all of the time. This is not to the extent where the cat suffers from dry mouth but it may be a contributing factor.
The pet MD website focuses on drugs as being a possible cause. It’s the same with people. They state that commonly used veterinary drugs that might be expected to lead to dry mouth in companion animals include: antihistamines, diuretics, sedatives, decongestants, atropine, and anaesthetic agents. The list is not comprehensive. Certainly, it would seem sensible to check with your veterinarian if your cat is on medication. It may be possible to decrease the dosage or switch to a different drug.
Another possible cause is radiation treatment for cancers which can damage the saliva glands. And sometimes a companion animal’s immune system can attack the saliva glands. An abnormal immune reaction can be directed at tear and saliva glands. You’ll need medication to suppress this immune reaction.
On the issue of nerve damage, this website refers to a condition called dysautonomia which causes the degeneration of nerves which can lead to dry mouth as well as a poor appetite. The symptoms include vomiting and pupils at don’t respond to light normally.
There are additional problems associated with dry mouth such as bad breath, a cracked tongue and dry and possibly cracking oral mucous membranes, inflamed oral tissues, difficulty chewing and swallowing and severe dental disease.
To manage the condition there is a treatment called pilocarpine which stimulates saliva production particularly before meals according to this website. A cat with poor oral health will have to see a veterinarian for treatment. You can use mouthwashes designed for pets. And providing food with a high-water content as mentioned is valuable
- Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook page 5.
- As stated in the response
This page was written before 2012 and has been republished. It was a submission by visitor because in those days I had a form which allowed visitors to submit their own questions and articles. I think it’s worth republishing because it’s a rarely discussed condition and it may help but there’s no substitute of course for taking your cat to a veterinarian in a timely manner.
Here are some contributions from visitors at that time:
Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.