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Stomatitis in Cats: Inflammation of the Soft Tissues in a Cat's Mouth

Updated on March 1, 2019

Stomatitis in cats is a condition where the soft tissues in a cat's mouth become irritated and inflamed.

In a cat's mouth, these tissues include the gums, cheeks and tongue.  The inflammation can become so severe that cats will not eat.

Treatment options are available, and the prognosis is positive for cats suffering from stomatitis.

Symptoms and Types of Stomatitis in Cats

Common symptoms or signs of stomatitis in cats can include:

  • Pain

  • Bad breath

  • Ulcerated tissues

  • Extensive teeth plaque

  • Excessive drooling or saliva

  • Fluid buildup in the gums

  • Inappetence (lack of appetite)

  • Weight loss

The primary types of inflammation are:

  1. Ulcerative Stomatitis: This condition occurs when a significant amount of gum tissue is lost in a cat's mouth, and it is frequently accompanied by inflammation of the oral tissues.

  2. Oral Eosinophilic Granuloma: This condition occurs when there is a mass or growth in or near the cat's mouth, especially on the lips.

  3. Gingival Hyperplasia: This condition occurs when gum tissue increases and may grow over teeth.

Causes of Stomatitis in Cats

In kittens, inflammation can occur as teeth become overcrowded in the mouth.

Several metabolic disorders are also known to cause stomatitis in cats, including an abnormal amount of waste products in the bloodstream, inflammation of blood vessels in the mouth (common with diabetes), lymphoma and inadequate levels of the hormone parathyroid.

Infectious diseases and injuries to the mouth can also cause the inflammation.

There may be an association between the development of stomatitis in cats and feline calicivirus. Most cats with stomatitis are carriers of the chronic form of this disease. Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) may also play a role.

Diagnosis

A veterinarian will examine your cat's mouth for lesions, teeth decay, plaque and other noticeable signs that may be causing the inflammation. In addition, laboratory blood work will typically be done to rule out any other underlying medical condition for the inflammation.

Treatment

Cleaning the mouth and preventing the buildup of plaque is the most effective management of this disease. In some cases, cat antibiotics have been proven effective in reducing inflammation of a cat's oral cavity. In severe cases, teeth will need to be surgically removed to reduce the inflammation.

It may seem drastic to extract a cat’s teeth, but it can be very effective in eliminating the inflammation and pain. Most cats return to eating the same cat food they ate before surgery.

There are several types of prescription pet medication, including pain or anti-inflammatory control and antibiotics, that can be effective at reducing the cat’s discomfort.

However, these are only management tools and, in most cases, do not resolve the symptoms fully.

Prevention

To prevent stomatitis in cats, your veterinarian may recommend that you rinse or brush your cat's mouth. There are also some topical ointments that can be used to reduce or prevent inflammation of the cat's gums.

Image: Fortish via Shutterstock