Broken-tooth cat - what to do?
August 26, 2006 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Our feisty little cat has snapped a canine. What should we do?

Last night he wandered in and we noticed that one of his canines has snapped about halfway down.

It doesn't seem to be bothering him at all. I've had a look. The pulp is not exposed and the break is clean. Is there anything worthwhile we can do for him?

And how the hell does a cat do this anyway? He's a small tabby, less than two years old, rescued from a shelter.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"Is there anything worthwhile we can do for him?"

Take him to the vet!
At least call them up and ask to speak to the vet.
posted by amethysts at 2:21 PM on August 26, 2006

Cats have pretty fragile canine teeth, this is pretty common. If it were my cat I'd might get it checked by the vet, but I've had two different cats with broken canine teeth and the broken teeth didn't seem to bother them at all (both lived to very advanced ages), so odds are it's no big deal.
posted by biscotti at 2:31 PM on August 26, 2006

This isn't an answer, but I thought I should share that when I read your question, I honestly thought you meant that your cat had broken a dog.
posted by chrismear at 2:48 PM on August 26, 2006

Take him to the vet

I may do. But first up, it's Sunday and there is no vet who's open close by, and second, it's not obvious to me what a vet might do. I will ring the vet on Monday.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:55 PM on August 26, 2006

well, you know, they might tell you it's nothing. but it doesn't hurt anything to call and ask.
posted by amethysts at 2:59 PM on August 26, 2006

My Vet Tech wife says, as long as the pulp is not exposed, it's just a cosmetic issue, and will cause no problems with eating or otherwise. You may want to take it in to the vet, though, as a visual exam is not always enough to determine if the pulp is exposed. The cat may not exhibit pain symptoms, either. If it is exposed, that is a good source of infection, and it's worth it to take it in and be sure.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:16 PM on August 26, 2006

Grill him?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:38 PM on August 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

I had a cat who did the exact same thing when he was about two, I have no idea how. It never bothered him in the least, and he managed for another 13 years or so with the half-tooth. The vet checked it when it was first done, and regularly after that, but it never needed any treatment.

As Rock Steady says, if there is no nerve exposure, he'll be just fine, but get it looked at to make sure.
posted by essexjan at 4:51 PM on August 26, 2006

Upper or lower canine? If lower, his tongue may lol sideways out of his mouth in a comical way (my dog had this). BTW, many cats with a broken canine have been very successful.
posted by Dunwitty at 4:58 PM on August 26, 2006

I also had a cat with a broken canine. It was snapped a long way down and left a spiky stump with the middle of the tooth showing (I was sure the pulp was showing but I'd guess that would hurt? and this didn't). Never bothered the cat and the vet told us not to worry. Apparently it's fairly common and not a big deal. We eventually got it removed after about three years because the gum around the tooth was swollen. Not sure if it was an actual infection or just that food kept scratching the gum while he chewed (because the tooth was so short).

My cat broke his tooth after being hit by a car. They ran over his tail as he was running and he faceplanted on the road. He also wrenched apart the vertebrae in the tail ('tail separation injury') and he had to have it removed. I'm sure you would have noticed something like this by now, the tail doesn't move once the nerves are snapped and there's a lot of swelling, so your cat probably did something different. I assume you've checked him over for other injuries?

In your shoes I'd wait til during the week then take him in and get him checked over. There may be something else wrong (e.g. if he did it fighting a cat-bite abcess won't show for a few days) and/or this may be one of those cases where the tooth needs to come out straight away. The actual tooth removal isn't a big deal, some general anaesthetic and no stitches etc in the mouth, just a small, fast healing wound. Chances are you won't need to do anything and it's not an emergency right now. In the meantime keep an eye on the gums for signs of infection, that would make it more urgent.
posted by shelleycat at 6:43 PM on August 26, 2006

Like chrismear, I too thought your cat had broken a dog. It was fun while it lasted.

Good luck with the kitty, though, and I hope he's okay.
posted by malaprohibita at 7:25 PM on August 26, 2006

Take him to the vet to be sure he's okay. My mom's cat had recurring abcesses from having a snapped canine, and it was not fun nor was it pretty, nor did it smell nice or make for a happy cat.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:54 PM on August 26, 2006

My cat broke a canine (not a dog) by jumping from the top bunkbed. When he landed, he had his chin out and hit it and bam. Like the others, no pulp showing, no harm. Vet said a lot of cats broke their canines by long falls or jumps.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:17 PM on August 26, 2006

Looks like a trip to the vet is in order. He does seem fine in all other respects.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:46 PM on August 26, 2006

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