Prevalence of Dental Disorders in Wild Cats Maintained at Captivity in the Zoo of Brasilia City
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2009
M.R. Roza; M.J. Andrade; D.C. Almeida; L.A.F. Silva; T.R.J. Borges; L.A. Prieto; L.A.C. Souza
Gama, DF, Brazil


With the advance observed in veterinary medicine in the past 15years, the veterinary specialization is gaining emphasis and veterinary dentistry is in an outstanding position. The oral cavity represents the entrance for the digestion system and any abnormality, disease or dysfunction in this region can cause catastrophic effects. Minor problems can cause pain while major oral affections can cause reduction in the ingestion of water and food, provoking debility, systemic alterations and in the end the death of the animal (Venturini, 2006). Wild cats, as well as domestic cats, can suffer from a variety of dental problems such as gingivitis and periodontal disease due to accumulation of tartar, tooth fracture, as result of trauma, which led to pulpitis and necrotic tissue accumulation on the tooth canal (Fowler & Cubas, 2001), malocclusion and oral neoplasia. Fortunately wild animals are being beneficiated with the advances accomplished by veterinary medicine as the majority of the diagnostic exams and treatments used for the small animals are being successfully applied for them although more studies in the wild animal veterinary medicine are necessary due to the importance in preservation of wild life is to the Earth. The aim of this study is to document the prevalence of dental disorders in wild cats maintained at captivity in the zoo of Brasilia city.

Materials and Methods

Were used a sample of twenty nine (N = 29) wild cats from eight (N = 8) different species: four (N = 4) Panthera tigris, four (N = 4) Panthera onca, two (N = 2) Panthera leo, seven (N = 7) Puma concolor, four (N = 4) Leopardus tigrinus, two (N = 2) Herpailurus yagouarondi, four (N = 4) Leopardus pardalis and two (N = 2) Leopardus wiedii. These animals were attended at the zoo of Brasilia city for diagnosis and treatment of dental disorders. After the animals were anesthetized with the following protocol: butorphanol 0.2mg/kg (IM) + midazolam 0.1mg/kg (IM) in premedication, ketamine 5mg/kg (IM) + xylazine 0.7mg/kg (IM) for induction and ketamine 2,5mg/kg (IV) + midazolam 0.05 mg/kg (IV) in 15 minutes intervals for maintenance, they were clinically evaluated. The teeth were examined one by one and preliminary observations about the condition and integrity of the teeth and the oral cavity were made by fulfilling an odontogram. By the data obtained in these odontograms were determined the prophylaxis and treatment protocol of the animals.


The following results are going to be presented in percentage of the lesions commonly found in the sample of twenty nine (N = 29) wild cats from the zoo of Brasilia city. Then we are going to specify the lesions in the total number of the teeth of all the animals emphasizing the teeth most committed. Calculus in variable degrees were present in 55.17% (N = 16) of the wild cats, 27.59% (N = 8) had fractured teeth, 20.69% (N = 6) presented absent teeth by the time of the examination, with no preview data to inform the motive these teeth were absent, 3.45% (N = 1) had lesions in the tongue and both superior canine tooth striped, 3.45% (N = 1) had oral benign neoplasia (acanthomatous epulides), 3.45% (N = 1) presented bilateral oronasal fistula (between teeth 207-208, 307-308), 3.45 (N = 1) had tooth cavity in upper forth pre-molar (208). Wild cats resemble domestic cats in possessing 26 deciduous and 30 permanent teeth (Standler, 1997; Saidla, 2004). The total number of the teeth from twenty nine (N = 29) wild cats represent a sample of eight hundred seventy (N = 870) teeth. Analyzing tooth by tooth 33.91% (N = 295) teeth had calculus, 7.93% (N = 69) with calculus I, 15.05% (N = 131) with calculus II, 10.92% (N = 95) presented calculus III. For the classification of the calculus scores in the vestibular surface of the teeth was used the Logan & Boyce index. The most committed teeth were the upper and down third and fourth pre-molars (107, 108, 207, 208, 307, 308, 407, and 408) and upper and down first molar (109, 209, 309, and 409). Due to accumulation of sub gingival bacterial plaque and calculus 0.69% (N = 6) of the teeth had deep periodontal pocket in variable degrees (II-IV) and mobility were presented in one tooth, 407. 3.45% (N = 30) represent the amount of absent teeth by the time of examination of the animals. Fractured teeth were described in 2.30% (N = 20) and the upper and down canine tooth (104, 304) were the most affected. All the animals were properly treated.


Periodontal disease is the general term to refer any disease or inflammation that involves the connective tissue and bone that support the teeth (Kornman, 2008). Calculus (mineralization of the plaque) is one of the local etiological factors of periodontal disease (Fagan, 1980). Calculus was present in 55.17% of the wild cats maintained in captivity in the zoo of Brasilia city; in number of teeth it represents an amount of 33.91% of committed teeth. The vestibular face of the upper and down third and fourth pre-molars (107, 108, 207, 208, 307, 308, 407 and 408) and upper and down first molar (109, 209, 309 and 409) were the site with predominance of calculus in all the animals. The Logan & Boyce index were adequate to measure the calculus present in the vestibular surface of the teeth. Calculus score II was the prevalent score of calculus, 15.05%, in our findings. Rossi Jr. et al. (2007) observed that the prevalence of dental calculus in Panthera onca were 100% and that the upper and down pre-molars and molars were the teeth most committed and in his study the calculus index were not used. We noticed that some specimen had periodontal deep pocket (> 6mm) and one of them had an oronasal fistula. Oral nasal fistula generally is secondary to severe periodontitis that committee the maxillary teeth. Rossi et al. (2007) described the presence of an oronasal fistula in one specimen of Panthera onca. Nutrition as observed by Rossi et al (1997) increases the incidence of periodontal disease. The animals that had fractured teeth represent 27.59%, in total number of teeth, fracture represent 2.30% and canine tooth was the teeth most fractured as observed by Venturini (2006) in domestic dogs and cats. Many of the carnivores find ways to fracture their canine teeth, exposing the pulp chambers and resulting in eventual pulp necrosis (DuPont, 2005). The stress and nutrition can contribute to the occurrence of teeth fractures (Roza et al. 2008). The absence of the teeth were presented in 20.69% of the wild cats examined, Roza et al. (2008) described this same event in Leopardus tigrinus and Leopardus pardalis.


Periodontal disease is the most common illness found in the oral cavity of wild cats. Due to the nutrition and the stress of the captivity life tooth fracture is a common lesion found in wild cats. Although the wild animal veterinary medicine is gaining an outstanding position due to the importance of the preservation of the wild life more, the wild animals' veterinary dentistry had a delayed development, so more studies are necessary for better comprehension of the oral cavity illness in wild cats.


1.  Venturini MAFA. Estudo retrospectivo de 3055 animais atendidos no Odontovet® (Centro Odontológico Veterinário) durante 44 meses. 2006. Dissertação (Mestre em Medicina Veterinária)--Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Universidade de São Paulo. p. 35-37. São Paulo, 2006.

2.  Fowler ME, Cubas ZS. Biology, Medicine and Surgery of South American Wild Animals. 1st ed. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 2001. p. 298.

3.  Stander PE. Field age determination of leopards by tooth wear. African Journal of Ecology, 1997 v. 35 p. 156-161.

4.  Saidla JE. Odontologia: Considerações genéticas, ambientais e outras In: Ettinger SJ, Feldman EC. Tratado de Medicina Interna Veterinária Doenças do Cão e do Gato, 5° ed., Guanabara Koogan, Rio de Janeiro, 2004, vol2, p1184.

5.  Boyce EN, Logan EI. Oral health assessment in dogs: study design and results. Journal Veterinary Dentistry, v. 11, n. 2, p. 64-70, 1994.

6.  Kornman KS. Mapping the patogenesis of periodontitis: A new look. Journal of Periodontology 79(8), p.1560-1568 (supplement), may 2008.

7.  Fagan DA. The pathogenesis of dental disease in carnivores. Prepared for the October 18, 1980 Meeting of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians in Washington, D.C.

8.  Rossi Jr. JL, Gioso MA, Domingues-Falqueiro LM. Estudo comparativo sobre prevalência de doença periodontal em Panthera onça mantida em cativeiro e indivíduos da natureza. Pesquisa Veterinária Brasileira 27(5), p.209-214, maio 2007

9.  DuPont G. Dentistry in exotic animals in private practice. 30th World Congress of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, May 2005, Mexico City, Mexico.

10. Roza MR, Borges TRJ, Almeida DC, Zeitune AD, Azevedo JMG, Silva LAF. Prevalência de lesões odontológicas em gatos do mato pequenos (Leopardus tigrinus) do jardim zoológico de Brasília. Anais XXXII Congresso da Sociedade Brasileira de Zoológicos, Sorocaba, 2008.

11. Roza MR, Borges TRJ, Almeida DC, Zeitune AD, Ramos RR, Silva LAF. Prevalência de lesões odontológicas em jaguatiricas (Leopardus pardalis) do jardim zoológico de Brasília. Anais XXXII Congresso da Sociedade Brasileira de Zoológicos, Sorocaba, 2008.

12. Greene & Vermillion's Simplified Oral Hygiene Index (OHI-S), 1964, available at:


Speaker Information
(click the speaker's name to view other papers and abstracts submitted by this speaker)

M. R. Roza
Gama, DF, Brazil

MAIN : Dentistry : Prevalence of Dental Disorders
Powered By VIN