Stomatitis in cats

Stomatitis in cats

Stomatitis is widespread inflammation throughout the oral cavity.  Stomatitis can affect the tongue, gums, the inner surface of the lips and the roof of the mouth.  While stomatitis in cats is an uncommon condition, it is very serious and painful.

The cause of stomatitis in cats is unknown.  It is thought to occur due to an inappropriate immune response to bacteria in the mouth.  Several studies have shown that a high percentage of cats are chronic carriers of feline Calicivirus. 

Clinical Signs of stomatitis in cats:

  • pain
  • weight loss
  • excessive salivation
  • reluctance to yawn
  • failure to groom
  • difficulty eating
  • bad breath

Stomatitis in cats is so painful that many cats will jump and cry out in pain when they yawn or open their mouth to eat.[Tweet “Stomatitis in cats is so painful that many cats will jump and cry out in pain”]

Diagnosis of stomatitis in cats is typically based on physical exam; however, biopsy of the affected tissue is the only way to know.  Testing for feline Calicivirus will help confirm the diagnosis of stomatitis in cats.  In a recent online survey of veterinarians, 20% of cats with stomatitis were positive Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. 

Treatment for stomatitis in cats:

  • Extraction of all the teeth.  While this sounds extreme, this treatment has proven to be 80-85% effective in the improvement of clinical signs in affected cats.  It’s important to confirm complete extraction of the teeth, including the roots, with radiographs. 
  • Immunosuppressive drugs.  Cyclosporine and steroids are the two main drugs that can be used to treat stomatitis in cats.  Cyclosporine is expensive and because it suppresses the immune system can make cats more susceptible to other infection.  While steroids are inexpensive, long-term use of these drugs can lead to increased risk for diabetes.  Treatment with steroid injection usually becomes less effective over time.
  • Good oral hygiene and frequent dental cleanings can improve cats with mild stomatitis

Oral antibiotics have proven ineffective in treating stomatitis in cats, because there is not a single antibiotic that can kill all bacterial species in the mouth. 

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Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family.  Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and, therefore, treat every four-legged friend as part of the family.

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