Feline stomatitis or cat mouth inflammation can have an adverse effect on your cat’s health. Learn more about its diagnosis, treatment, and management.
Feline stomatitis, also known as cat mouth inflammation, is a painful condition that affects the mouth and gums of cats. It is a serious condition that can cause significant discomfort and even lead to weight loss and malnutrition if left untreated.
In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for feline stomatitis. We will also explore ways to prevent this condition from occurring and how to manage it effectively to ensure the best possible quality of life for your feline friend.
Feline stomatitis, also known as chronic gingivostomatitis, is a severe inflammation of the mouth and gums in cats. The exact cause of the condition is not fully understood, but it is thought to be an immune-mediated reaction to plaque and bacteria on the teeth and gums.
Symptoms of feline stomatitis can include:
Refusal to eat or difficulty eating
Pawing at the mouth
Ulcers or red, swollen gums
Sensitivity or pain when the mouth or gums are touched
In severe cases, the inflammation can spread to other parts of the mouth, including the tongue and cheeks, making it difficult for the cat to eat or drink. If left untreated, feline stomatitis can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, and other complications.
It is important to consult your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms in your cat. Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination, including a dental examination, and may take x-rays or perform a biopsy to determine the cause of the inflammation.
The exact cause of feline stomatitis is not fully understood, but it is thought to be an immune-mediated reaction to plaque and bacteria on the teeth and gums.
Certain factors are thought to contribute to the development of feline stomatitis:
Dental plaque and tartar: Plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth can lead to inflammation of the gums, which can then progress to stomatitis.
Bacterial infection: The presence of certain types of bacteria in the mouth, particularly Fusobacterium and Porphyromonas species, has been associated with feline stomatitis.
Viral infections: Some cats may develop stomatitis as a result of a viral infection, such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
Genetics: Some breeds of cats, such as Siamese and Burmese, may be predisposed to developing stomatitis due to their genetics.
Trauma: Cats that have a history of trauma to their mouth, such as from a fall or from being hit by a car, may be more likely to develop stomatitis.
It is also believed that stress and hormonal imbalances can trigger the onset or worsen stomatitis symptoms, as well as exacerbate underlying chronic diseases (like diabetes and hyperthyroidism) that could predispose the cat to dental or gum issues.
Multiple factors may be involved in the development of feline stomatitis, and a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors may contribute to the development of the condition.
A veterinarian will typically perform a physical examination and a dental examination to diagnose feline stomatitis. They will also ask about the cat's medical history, including any symptoms that you have observed and any recent changes in their behavior or eating habits.
During the physical examination, the veterinarian will look for signs of inflammation in the cat's mouth, such as red, swollen gums, ulcers, or bad breath. They will also check for other signs of illness, such as weight loss or dehydration.
During the dental examination, the veterinarian will examine the cat's teeth and gums for signs of plaque, tartar, and dental disease. They may also take x-rays of the cat's teeth to check for any underlying issues.
A sample of the cat's saliva or gums can be taken and processed to check for bacteria or viral infection.
A biopsy, which means taking a small sample of the tissue and analyzing it under the microscope, may be needed to rule out other possible causes, like neoplasia, or to check for the degree of inflammation.
Based on the results of the examination and any diagnostic tests that are performed, the veterinarian will be able to determine whether or not feline stomatitis is the cause of the cat's symptoms and will develop a treatment plan to manage the condition.
Feline stomatitis can have similar symptoms to other conditions, such as dental resorptive lesions, neoplasia, and other types of oral diseases. Therefore, further tests may be needed to rule them out.
Depending on the severity of the stomatitis, treatment options may include:
Dental cleaning and extractions
Antibiotics to control any bacterial infection
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Steroids, such as Prednisone, to reduce inflammation
Pain Management, local or systemic
In some cases, a multi-modal approach may be needed, including long-term management like daily oral care and consistent check-up.
It is important to note that even with treatment, feline stomatitis can be a chronic condition that requires ongoing management to control symptoms and prevent a recurrence.
The recovery process for feline stomatitis can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the specific treatment plan that is recommended by the veterinarian.
In general, the goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and eliminate any underlying bacterial or viral infections. This may involve a combination of treatments, such as dental cleaning and extractions, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and special diets.
After treatment, most cats will experience significant improvement in their symptoms and should start eating better. Some cats may have reduced pain and inflammation but still have eating difficulties and need to have more frequent follow-ups.
The veterinarian may also provide you with information about oral care and diet to help manage the cat's condition at home. In some cases, feline stomatitis can be a chronic condition that requires ongoing management to control symptoms and prevent a recurrence. This may include regular dental cleanings and extractions, long-term use of antibiotics, such as Clavamox, or anti-inflammatory drugs, and oral care at home.
If the cat has a good response to the treatment, follow-up evaluations should be performed regularly to monitor the progress and adjust treatment if needed. Some cats may require more frequent evaluation (like every 6 months) if they have chronic cases or are more prone to recurrences.
In some severe cases, the cat may need to be referred to a veterinary dental specialist or a veterinary internal medicine specialist for additional management.