What is stomatitis in cats?
Stomatitis is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes painful inflammation and ulceration of your cat's gums, back of the throat, and oral cavity. The open sores that develop due to stomatitis can result in significant mouth pain that leads many cats to refuse to eat.
It is estimated that about 10% of domesticated cats suffer from stomatitis at some point. Any breed of cat could develop stomatitis however some breeds, including Persians and Himalayans, appear to face an increased risk of suffering from this common oral health issue.
What causes feline stomatitis?
The exact cause of stomatitis is not yet fully understood, however, it is believed to be an immune-mediated disorder that occurs when a cat's immune system overreacts to dental plaque and bacteria.
Some professionals have determined that there are viral and bacterial components to your cat developing stomatitis, but the exact source of this type of bacteria is unknown. Inflammatory dental disease, such as periodontal disease, also appears to have a direct tie to the development of feline stomatitis.
Can I prevent my cat from developing stomatitis?
Regardless of the cause, most veterinarians recommend regular teeth brushing at home combined with professional dental cleanings and examinations at your vet's office in order to help prevent stomatitis.
Some breeds can have their teeth brushed once daily to remove food particles and any bacteria, while other breeds should only have their teeth cleaned once a week or during professional grooming appointments.
Annual dental appointments with your veterinary clinic can provide your veterinarian with an opportunity to monitor your cat's oral health and spot the earliest signs of stomatitis. Speak to your vet to learn more about their recommendations for keeping your kitty's mouth healthy.
What are the most common stomatitis symptoms in cats?
Predictably, one of the first things you are likely to notice if your cat has stomatitis is a change in their eating habits accompanied by bad breath. Stomatitis is extremely painful for our feline friends. In more severe cases cats can become malnourished because it is so painful for them to eat.
Other stomatitis symptoms in cats to watch out for include:
- Red patches/blisters in the mouth
- Oral bleeding
- Bad breath
- Excessive salivation/drooling
- Less grooming than is typical
- Dropping food/crying out while eating
- Pawing at the mouth
- Weight loss
- Swollen red gums
What is the treatment for stomatitis in cats?
When you bring your cat in for irritation or bleeding of the mouth, your vet will first perform an oral exam. If your cat has mild stomatitis, at-home care might be enough to treat their stomatitis. Severe cases require surgical intervention. Consult your vet for a better understanding of how to best treat your kitty.
In the scenario where your veterinarian deems surgery necessary, they will likely recommend the extraction of the affected teeth in order to make your cat comfortable again and allow the area to heal.
On top of treatment, dental checkups will likely be added to your kitty's medical routine, rather than just general routine wellness exams. The frequency of dental checkups will be determined by the degree of periodontal disease in your cat. If your adult cat's teeth are overcrowded, or if it still has its "kitten" teeth, your veterinarian may once again recommend a tooth extraction.
Aside from medical intervention, your vet should show you how to properly clean your cat's teeth and schedule follow-up appointments to review your feline's dental health.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.