Cat not eating normally more than 2 weeks after teeth extraction

hurricanemix100

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I brought my cat Xia info for a dental cleaning 2.5 weeks ago. She's only 4 years old yet she needed 8th teeth extracted due to tooth resorption. I couldn't believe it! $1500 later I have a semi toothless cat. For the first few days she ate fairly normally probably because she was hopped on painkillers between what they gave her and twice a day pills I gave her in pill pockets. Pro tip roll the the pill pockets in the crushed up treat dust of their favorite treats. I was feeding her wetted down dry food because she's not a wet food eater during this time. But on day 4-5 she started refusing that. So, I offered her dry food hoping for the best since she wasn't eating.

Normally I divide her daily dry food into 3 portions. Morning, after work, and before I go to bed. She usually eats the entire portion in minutes. But, since the extraction she's eating much more slowly. More like grazing and I'm lucky if she finishes the morning portion before the after work portion and so on. Sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn't but it's just note the same. It's not "normal".

I brought her to the vet for her follow up and they said one side of her mouth was healing great and the other side was ok, but acceptable. I explained everything I explained above and she said that's "atypical", but didn't seem concerned.

So, I'm just curious what other people's experiences have been like with something like this? More than 2 weeks after a teeth extraction of this magnitude is your cat still eating "weirdly"? She's eating enough, but it's just different and she's definitely not back to "normal" whereas everything you read online says the should be. Is this just the new normal? Or does it sometimes take longer than 2 weeks to get back to normal?
 

daftcat75

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Not all extractions go as smoothly as everyone would hope especially with tooth resorption. I had to take Krista back for follow-up dentals several times. If you don't think it healed right, insist on another dental with new X-rays or take her to another vet if your current vet doesn't seem impressed by the situation. General vets, not being dental specialists, don't always have the skill or expertise to do extractions as well as they should. When Krista finally had to see a dentist because the regular vets refused to do any more work in her mouth, the dentist pointed out all kinds of mistakes made by her previous vets: teeth drilled out with roots remaining and imbalances in her bite from asymmetrical extractions of the canines (fangs.) If one or more of her canines are extracted, the remaining ones can poke into the opposing lip or gum causing pain and discomfort. That's something you may need to follow up with a dentist about. In the meantime, if you suspect there's a pain issue going on, ask the vet who did the extractions for another short course of pain meds. If her eating picks up on pain meds, you know there is still some pain involved. If it doesn't, that doesn't always mean an absence of pain as some cats have a depressed appetite on opioids.

Finally, because tooth resorption is a chronic degenerative condition, this is likely not her last bout with it. I would get proactive now and schedule a consultation with a dentist. Have her seen and any work that's been done reviewed and the dentist could make the call of whether to proactively remove the rest of her teeth and spare her recurring bouts of pain, reduced eating, and extractions, or to put her on some kind of monitoring schedule like perhaps once or twice a year she gets reevaluated to see if new lesions have formed or if any problems are occurring from the missing teeth (bite imbalances, remaining teeth poking opposite gum, etc.)

To find a dentist:
Find A Veterinary Specialist | AVDC.org

Or call around the emergency/specialty hospitals.

A word of warning and why you should get proactive about this now. Dentists usually have a wait time of two to six months. That does not change with need. If you wait until she needs another round of extractions, that's still a two to six month wait. But once you've had that initial consultation with them, it's a lot quicker to get procedure and follow-up appointments. Start the process now so that you'll have a specialist on her case hopefully before the next occurrences. Some cats never have another issue after the first round of extractions. And for many cats, the tooth resorption nightmare doesn't end until their body or their dentist has taken every last tooth.

In addition to asking her current vet for a course of pain meds, also ask for a can of Hills A/D. This is a soft food with high calories and high appeal that may just cut through whatever is currently holding her back. You can mix it with her current dry food. Or you can offer it by itself in small portions (a spoonful to start) until her tummy is up to speed on the new food.

Another option is whatever junky wet food the grocery store (not the pet food store) sells. Popular brands on grocery store shelves are popular with cats. They would not be on those shelves otherwise. Pet food stores have more shelf space to for boutique brands that may have limited popularity. Grocery stores don't have time for that. If it doesn't sell, if the cats don't like it, they aren't likely to keep carrying it.
 
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hurricanemix100

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Wow. I appreciate all that information. Yea I don't know if I think there is a pain issue or if it didn't heal right. I mean she's eating her dry food. She's not refusing food outright or behaving differently aside from eating. I guess my main concern is she's just eating at a different pace now. Not with same enthusiasm. She's eating about the same amount of as she did before the surgery, but it's just slower. She would inhale each of her 3 daily dry food servings in minutes. Now it's like a slow graze over a few hours and sometimes she doesn't finish quite all of it before it's time for the next serving. So, I guess main question is is it expected that after something like 8 teeth getting extracted that their eating habits are just normal after 2.5 weeks? Or does it take longer? Or is it just not as easy to eat with all the missing teeth and eating slower is the new normal? Or is this eating slower now totally abnormal and she is probably in pain?
 

daftcat75

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Wow. I appreciate all that information. Yea I don't know if I think there is a pain issue or if it didn't heal right. I mean she's eating her dry food. She's not refusing food outright or behaving differently aside from eating. I guess my main concern is she's just eating at a different pace now. Not with same enthusiasm. She's eating about the same amount of as she did before the surgery, but it's just slower. She would inhale each of her 3 daily dry food servings in minutes. Now it's like a slow graze over a few hours and sometimes she doesn't finish quite all of it before it's time for the next serving. So, I guess main question is is it expected that after something like 8 teeth getting extracted that their eating habits are just normal after 2.5 weeks? Or does it take longer? Or is it just not as easy to eat with all the missing teeth and eating slower is the new normal? Or is this eating slower now totally abnormal and she is probably in pain?
You can't really know. She won't tell you. Ask your vet for a few doses of buprenorphine. If she eats faster with pain relief, you can reasonably assume there is still some pain there. But is it pain from extractions or pain from her new bite? Did she have any canines (fangs) removed? Those are sharp and if she doesn't have all four to provide her bite its structure, the imbalance could leave one poking into her gum or lip. That could be uncomfortable enough for her to slow her eating.

This is also generally out of the skill level/experience of a general vet and why you need to get her scheduled with a dentist whether you believe she needs it or not. With tooth resorption, the odds are better than not that she will need a dentist at some point, and you'll still be stuck with those wait times for the initial consultation. Once you are a patient of the dentist, you won't have to wait so long. Call a few dentists and make a few appointments. You don't want your two to six months of waiting wasted if something unexpected comes up and either you or the dentist cannot keep that appointment. You can always cancel the appointments you don't need once you have had her seen by one (and you're satisfied with that one.) Make a dentist appointment now before push comes to shove.

And definitely try more wet food with her. Even if her mouth isn't painful, it could just be an awkward eating experience for her now. Or perhaps the wet food will give her mouth more of a break to recover from the extractions. I couldn't tell you specifically because I switched my Krista to wet food after the first extractions. I didn't know that cats could still eat dry food with missing teeth. I was also fortunate in that Krista took to her wet food right away.
 
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hurricanemix100

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She did not have her canines removed. She had the pre-molars on both sides removed plus one pre molar on the top. I guess what I really want to know from other users is did your cat go back to eating "normally" just they liked they used to by 2-3 weeks after their dental surgery/tooth extraction or does it take longer to get back to "normal". Or is there now just a new "normal" where they eat the same amount of food in a day, but just at a different pace? I have no reason to suspect anything is wrong other than the pace of eating. The daily amount is fine, behavior is fine, follow up appointment was fine. So, obviously with what she's been through I don't want to take her back to the vet or take her to get more x-rays unless it's absolutely necessary and I have more evidence that something's wrong.
 

daftcat75

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It might be a new normal. As I said, I converted Krista to wet food literally the same day I picked her up from her first round of extractions. I didn't know that cats could still eat dry food or that you were supposed to transition between foods over several days or that Krista was supposed to put up more of an objection than she did about her dry disappearing overnight. If you're not concerned about the amount and she doesn't seem to be having any discomfort, then maybe just give it more time.

In the meantime, don't sleep on that dentist appointment. This will very likely not be the last round of extractions she'll need and navigating tooth resorption will be a lot easier with a dentist than a general vet. Don't let it get as far as I did where the general vets refuse to do any more extractions in her mouth, and then you're forced to figure out how she's going to keep eating until you can get her a dentist appointment. The dentist may even be able to spot something the general vet did not in her follow-up. But at the very least, once you've had that initial consult appointment, any procedure appointments you may need should be a lot easier to come by. So get her in the front door even if she doesn't need it so you'll have priority access when she does.
 
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hurricanemix100

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Does anyone else have experience with this situation that could provide me some additional advice?
 

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What's happening? Is your cat still not eating her full portions of food, if I understood your first post right, or is she just eating slowly but finishing it all? Have you been weighing her?
Have you talked with the vet again?

Poppycat had two teeth pulled last year, and it didn't seem to effect him much although he started having a little trouble with bits of kibble falling out of the side that he's gap-toothed, ie has a hole there since the top and the bottom teeth are gone now. He has gotten better with that, leading me to believe he literally had to re-learn how to chew/handle the food in his mouth. It can take time sometimes.
 
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hurricanemix100

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We are over 3 weeks now and closing in on 4 weeks. She's still eating differently. For example yesterday. First scoop of the day in the morning, which normally she'd eat all of in 2 minutes, she took probably 3 hours to eat over 4 or 5 different visits. But, it was gone by the time for the post work scoop. Gave her the post work scoop and left for the evening to hangout with friends. Came back around 10pm and maybe half was gone, but right when I got home it was like she was reminded she was hungry and ate almost all of the rest of it, but not quite all of it. So I poured the nighttime scoop right on top. Woke up in the morning and it was probably 2/3 gone and while I was doing my morning routine she finished it. Then gave her the morning scoop again and she ate that again within a few hours. Now I'm sitting here after work having given her the post work scoop again and it's probably 2/3 gone.

So, she manages to finish her daily allotment, but in more of a grazing fashion instead of eating it all in 3 minutes and then not eating again for 8 hours. So, it's different, but she's still eating a days worth of food to maintain weight. I will say I think she's been a bit more lethargic lately. A little more wandering a way and sleeping for 3 hours than usual. She's not as excited when I shout the word food which normally brought her running to me. The last 2 days she hasn't come when I shout food. That's definitely not normal.

So, I don't know. I'm torn. Things are different. But, not bad. She's not starving. Last week the vet said one side of her mouth was healing good and one side still had stiches in it that hadn't dissolved or come out yet. She said give it 10-14 days and see if she's getting back to normal. It's been 10 days and she's not "normal", but also not concerningly abnormal. Just abnormal enough that I'm noticing.

I don't want to bring her back to the vet if I don't have to because it's so stressful for both of us and they'll probably just say give it some time again. Mostly I'm hoping that maybe other people have experienced something like this where after a major dental surgery they can tell me that things are just different afterwards. And as long as they are still eating a good amount, even if it's slow and not as enthusiastic now, that's just the new normal. Or maybe it takes longer than 3 weeks to get back to normal.
 
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daftcat75

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Can you ask the vet for a small prescription of buprenorphine? Maybe a few days' worth. If she eats better or faster with a little bupe in her, then you can reasonably assume that she's still got a little pain going on. And if the bupe doesn't change her eating, well, you can't really draw a conclusion from that because bupe can affect the appetite of some cats.

I hope you made that dentist appointment. If not, please do. This may be some odd corner case that is outside your vet's experience or expertise. If she starts eating like "normal" again between now and the appointment, you can always cancel that appointment. But there's also the possibility that whatever is bothering her now might not be bothering her enough to slow her intake. But maybe as time goes on, it gets more bothersome. She might be eating through discomfort today that could become pain tomorrow. I'd rather she see the dentist and not need it than the other way around.
 

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The last 2 days she hasn't come when I shout food. That's definitely not normal.
I'm with daftcat75 daftcat75 regarding the vet appointment because rather than improving it sounds as though she's actually taking a bit of a step back.

If you don't already put a light towel over the carrier, and see if maybe a calming spray or wipe might help her stress.
 

daftcat75

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I'm with daftcat75 daftcat75 regarding the vet appointment because rather than improving it sounds as though she's actually taking a bit of a step back.

If you don't already put a light towel over the carrier, and see if maybe a calming spray or wipe might help her stress.
I was talking about a dentist appointment eg with a specialist in the more medium to long term depending on those wait times. Do this on a parallel track while you consult with your vet or seek a second opinion or wait it out in the short term. Bupe can be part of the short term. And if she likes wet food, you can try adding more wet food to her diet in case the dry food is causing discomfort. But you should make that dentist appointment because this may not be something a general vet can handle or she may still need more work now or in the future. Sometimes what seemed like smooth extractions may have in fact left root fragments behind. If you do take her back to the vet in the short or medium term, you might look into another round of X-rays.

The other reason to make that dentist appointment is that tooth resorption often keeps going. It’s good to engage the dentist now when you maybe don’t need him yet than to wait til you need him and discover it is still a six month wait time for an initial appointment. Once she’s been seen by that dentist the first time, the subsequent appointments are a lot easier to come by. Get her feet in the door now so you don’t have to wait six months for an appointment when she really needs one.
 
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hurricanemix100

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Hello just wanted to say I really appreciate everyone's advice and I wanted to provide an update. Xia has finally come around and got back to normal. It took a full 5 weeks post surgery. The past 3 days she's inhaled all her meals in one sitting just like before the surgery. My theory is she still had stitches on one side that were bothering her. When I brought her in for her follow-up the vet said one said was healing good and the other side the stitches were still present. She said give it 10 to 14 days before I started to worry to give the stitches a chance to dissolve. I have to say she was right. About 2 weeks after the 2 week follow up things finally started to get back to normal.

So for anyone whose cat has had a pretty major dental surgery I'd say maybe everything you read about back to normal right away or in 2 weeks isn't always the case. Xia took a good 4-5 weeks, I think until all the stitches dissolved, to get back to her old eating habits. Hope this helps someone worry less in the future!
 

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Eating speed might also be effected by how many teeth are left. My Missy had like 14 teeth extracted last November right before her brother cat passed away...and that was not including previous dental extractions or the teeth that's got absorbed. She's not got many teeth left..I think 8. Picking up kibble is more challenging but she makes do...just takes a lot longer.

Fwiw it also took Missy the awhile before I could get her to touch kibble but how much of that was from the dental vs her brother passing and everything related to that I can't say. She definitely didn't bounce back from this dental like she did in 2019.

Glas your kitty is back to normal!
 
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