A closer look: Pale Gums in Cats
Normal gums in cats are either light pink or darkly pigmented, depending on the cat’s color and markings. Identifying the pale gums is difficult in cats, since their natural gum color is already quite light. Careful examination of the mouth when cats are healthy can help pet owners identify any future changes. Comparing to another pet in the house, preferably a cat, is also helpful in identifying changes. Cat gums can also be compared to dogs, however cats typically have more pale gums naturally.
Blood flow to the tissues is what gives the gums their normal pink color, as the characteristic red tinge of red blood cells is visible through pale tissue. Any condition that results in changes to blood flow, like excessive bleeding, or altered numbers of red blood cells in the bloodstream, can result in pale gums.
Pale gums are uncommon in cats, and are always indicative of an emergency. Cats with pale gums require immediate veterinary care for stabilization and identification of the underlying disease. The paleness of the gums is not always related to the severity of the underlying disease.
Testing and diagnosis
Pale gums are an emergency, and affected cats often must be stabilized before undergoing diagnostics to identify the underlying condition. Stabilizing treatments include:
- Supplemental oxygen
- Warming of the animal
- IV fluids
- Blood transfusions
Once the patient is stable, diagnostics to identify the underlying condition include:
- Physical examination
- Blood work
- Diagnostic imaging
- Fecal examination
Treatment and prognosis depend on the underlying condition, and vary widely. Depending on the condition, treatment modalities may include:
- Surgical intervention
- Nutritional therapy
- Palliative care
Pale gums may be confused with cyanosis in some cases. In cyanosis, the gums turn pale blue due to inadequate oxygen delivery to the tissues. Cyanosis is also an emergency.