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FORL is the name for Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions on the teeth. The disease is one of the most painful dental diseases in cats and affects an average of about a third of all cats in their lifetime. Read here what symptoms occur and how the disease can be treated.

My cat has FORL: What is it?

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The common and painful FORL disease occurs when the tooth substance is decalcified. Especially in the area of the tooth neck, i.e. in the lower area of the teeth, the tooth substance is attacked by the body’s own cells. These cells, called odontoclasts, dissolve the tooth enamel.

The exact cause of the disease is largely unclear. It is assumed, however, that a disturbing calcium-phosphorus balance and chronic tooth inflammation promote the disease. A cat can also develop FORL from viruses, a weakened immune system, and exposure to stress.

A distinction is made between two forms of feline odontoclastic resportive lesions: FORL type 1 and FORL type 2, whereby both types can also occur together.

FORL type 1

In type 1 cat disease, inflammation of the gums and inflammation of the mucous membrane of the cat’s oral cavity occur at the same time. If the gums are red or swollen, the vet should check whether it is gingivitis or FORL.

FORL type 2

In the second type of dental disease, the cat does not initially have any inflammatory reactions in the mouth or gums. Instead, the gums recede and the cat’s teeth break off. FORL type 2 is often only recognized late since no inflammation is apparent.

Symptoms of FORL in cats

Since the disease begins in the lower, invisible area of the tooth neck, it cannot be seen with the naked eye in the early stages. However, there are signs that even at this stage indicate the dental disease FORL, as the lesions in the cat are accompanied by severe pain.

In order to recognize FORL at an early stage, one should pay attention to the following unspecific symptoms:

  • Changed eating behavior: refusal to feed, dropping food, eating only small amounts, hissing or complaining meowing while eating;
  • Bad breath;
  • Increased salivation;
  • Inflammation around the gums: redness, swelling, bloody gums;
  • Missing or broken teeth;
  • Frequent head shaking or tilting of the head;
  • Other symptoms are suggestive of pain in the cat.

FORL – euthanize your cat?

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No, this condition is not per se a reason to euthanize a cat. Even if it may lose several teeth, a cat can still go through life happily after the treatment.

How is FORL diagnosed in cats?

To make the diagnosis, an X-ray examination and a probing of the teeth are necessary. The veterinarian can see whether there are lesions in the area of the tooth necks and roots and how far they have progressed.

However, early stages can be overlooked even on x-rays, so that dental disease in cats is often only diagnosed at an advanced stage.

Treatment of the disease FORL

As a rule, it is not possible to save the teeth affected by the lesions. Root canal treatment or tooth filling is not a suitable therapy because the tooth substance is too badly affected. For this reason, the affected teeth of the diseased cat must be extracted.

The teeth destroyed by FORL are extracted under anesthesia. The cat will be missing teeth afterward, but the pain will be relieved by the treatment. After treatment, pain relievers and antibiotics may be used to prevent inflammation.

FORL in cats: cost of treatment

Of course, the costs vary greatly depending on the severity of the disease. But because several x-rays, as well as the extraction of teeth and the respective anesthesia, often make up for the diagnosis to the symptom relief, you have to be prepared for high costs. In severe cases, the disease can cost you between $700 and $1200.

How can you prevent FORL?

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If the cat has a genetic predisposition to develop feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions, prevention is difficult. Nevertheless, changing the diet of cats with a tendency to dental problems can prevent the disease.

A calcium-rich diet and thorough dental care in cats, as well as removing tartar, can prevent the spread of FORL.

Is FORL Contagious to Cats or Humans?

If a cat is diagnosed with FORL, there is no danger to other two- or four-legged friends living in the household. The condition is not contagious to humans or other cats.