Feline stomatitis is a common, painful and very serious oral inflammation that can affect cats of all breeds and ages, although some breeds such as Himalayans, Persians, and Somalis are more prone to developing symptoms than others. There is no single specific cause associated with stomatitis (also known as chronic gingivostomatitis or CGS), though the buildup of plaque triggers the initial inflammation. With some cases, it is thought there is an autoimmune component to this disease, where the cat’s immune system essentially responds to its teeth as though they were foreign bodies.
Signs that a cat is suffering with stomatitis include behavioral changes (irritability and aggression), excessive salivation, bad breath and reddened gums or tongue. And, in some cases, the condition can lead to oral ulcerations which spread to the lips, tongue, and the back of the throat, greatly worsening the condition. As such, eating and swallowing become extremely painful and may cause the cat to refuse food altogether.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Reddening of gums and tongue
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Ulcerated oral tissues
- Extensive teeth plaque
- Excessive drooling / saliva – sometimes tinged with blood
- Unable to eat due to oral inflammation, causing weight loss and anorexia
- Cries in pain when trying to open the mouth
- Pawing at mouth in order to ease himself
- Lack of grooming
- Behavioral changes such as irritability, aggression and reclusiveness
Proactive Dental Management:
Since stomatitis is such a common issue, and given the fact that serious oral changes can occur within relatively short periods of time, cat owners are advised to regularly inspect the interior of their pet’s mouth for any changes and/or warning signs. This means either consulting with your vet (at least every 6 months) or doing it at home. If your preference is the latter option, you will need to spend time getting kitty used to being touched around the mouth and their jaws being opened. Again, speak to your vet for advice on best methods and practices – as patience will be required to manipulate the untrained cat.
Diagnosis and Treatment:
If you notice any of the above signs and suspect your cat is experiencing pain, it’s worth booking an appointment with your vet for an oral checkup as soon as possible. Your vet will examine the oral cavity and check for any injuries or ulcerations, plaque, tooth decay, dental diseases, etc. He or she will also advise some blood work to rule out any underlying diseases which could be hormonal (e.g. diabetes mellitus), autoimmune, or infectious (FeLV or FIV). Additionally, chronic kidney disease, cancer, and a condition called “eosinophilic granuloma complex” can cause oral lesions that can look like stomatitis.
If your vet discovers indicators for stomatitis, he or she will prescribe treatment to ease the oral pain and inflammation, allowing your pet to eat normally. For this purpose, your vet will prescribe soft or wet foods which can be easily consumed by the pet until the oral cavity heals. Additionally, for quick relief, the vet will recommend topical and systemic anti-inflammatory medicines and oral antibiotics. The antibiotics will be prescribed for a prolonged period since this condition takes a while to resolve.
In rare, severe cases, the inflammation may be so bad that the cat cannot eat, and it essentially starves because it is experiencing so much pain. In such cases, the vet may recommend removal of most or all of the cat’s teeth. Cats who have their teeth removed for this cause often do quite well afterward, some even return to eating dry kibble.
In cases where dental tartar or other dental diseases are present – and for hormonal issues – the vet will prescribe medicines accordingly. He or she will also recommend a dental cleaning and provide care tips to maintain kitty’s oral health at home. Following this advice as well as proactively checking your cat’s oral cavity will help to reduce the accumulation of plaque and the associated inflammation, leading to improved dental health all round.
How Can Activ4Pets Help?
Keeping track of vet visits and the associated paperwork can sometimes be bothersome. It’s too easy to forget a follow up visit or misplace important medical records. As such, Activ4Pets helps you be proactive about your cat’s health by transferring their vet records to the cloud. We put medical information at your fingertips and our convenient mobile app allows you to set reminders so you never miss an oral check up or your next vet visit.
If your cat does suffer with a dental problem, all their veterinary records (including any tests, blood work, X-rays, etc.) can be uploaded to the platform for future reference or if you need to speak to a different specialist regarding the issue. If your veterinarian is part of our program, you can also book a virtual visit to follow up (instead of taking kitty in the car) and request a second medical opinion from your vet’s network of specialists, for additional clarity on a particular problem.
Activ4Pets membership starts at just $24 per year and you can start your your membership through our sign up page.