Perhaps the biggest challenge veterinarians face is the fact their patients can’t speak for themselves. While it can be clear that a pet is acting strangely, figuring out why can be difficult.
Season Gilliam said she adopted her cat, Greycie May, over 11 years ago. “She was born a stray underneath a neighbor’s car and I took her in when she was probably 3-6 months old,” Season said. And by “taking her in,” Season said she means she lured her into her home with food until she could close the door behind her. “She is the epitome of a scaredy cat,” she said. “From the day I met her she wouldn’t let anyone near her. No petting, no cuddling, no holding. This is how it has been for the last 11 years.”
Greycie May hiding in a corner
As many cats tend to be more skittish, Season didn’t think much of Greycie’s behavior. She continued to eat, drink and act like her normal self throughout the years, making it appear there was nothing to be concerned about. Season became a client at Eastown Veterinary Clinic in 2016. At that time, doctors noted that Greycie May was missing several teeth.
“Before coming to Eastown, I don’t recall ever hearing about any issues with Greycie’s teeth,” she said. “If it was mentioned, I’m sure it went in one ear and out the other because I never thought dental care for animals was a thing.”
Despite missing teeth, Greycie May continued to eat and drink normally, and her behavior never changed.
Season’s view of pet dental care changed in October, when she brought Greycie May to EVC because she noticed a broken canine tooth. “With further examination, that tooth, and others, were abscessing,” she said. “I was shocked and nervous.”Despite Greycie May likely being in significant pain, she displayed very few signs of discomfort. This is a common occurrence among animals, making regular veterinary exams that much more important. Greycie May was going to need the abscessed teeth extracted, and several others were questionable. Season said the cost of having the dental procedure done paled in comparison to what could happen if she was to wait. “I knew if I didn’t get it taken care of, it could get much worse, more expensive, and I had no idea if she was in pain,” she said.
Greycie May’s mouth prior to the dental procedure. Note the inflammation of the bone near the upper canine, tooth resorption on the lower molar and heavy tartar on the upper molar.
Season brought Greycie home after her procedure, and almost instantly noticed a change in Greycie May’s behavior. Even after having extensive dental work done, Greycie seemed more comfortable than she had ever been.
“At first I thought it was temporary because of the medicine, but in the months since the surgery, she has been more and more affectionate and social!” she said. “She is still a little skittish, but she actually lets me walk up to her and pet her. She comes up to me to get attention.”
Season said that for the first time in 11 years, Greycie May actually let her hold her!
A once skittish cat, Greycie May now gives head rubs to her mom, Season
“Sadly, what I think this means is that she was living with pain in her mouth all these years,” she said. “She was always a scaredy cat and I never thought that could be her way of dealing with pain.” Season said she is now an advocate of pet dental care, and recommends that everyone keep up on their pet’s dental exams and cleanings.
“I think taking Greycie in for a cleaning years ago would have revealed the seriousness of her problem,” she said. “And I’ll add that it’s hard to know definitively if your pet is in pain. They can’t tell us and it doesn’t always show in their behavior so really keep this in mind if you ever have to consider getting dental work done for your pet.”
Season said she is thankful for Dr. Tittle and the staff at Eastown. “What started as something we needed to do to keep her healthy became something that completely changed her life and our relationship together,” she said. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and Eastown Veterinary Clinic is offering big savings on dental cleanings! Call us today at (616) 451-1810 to schedule an exam or for more information!