While the name “feline stomatitis” might make you think of a digestive issue, this condition does not affect the stomach in any way. Feline stomatitis is a painful, inflammatory condition of the gums and mouth that gets its name from the zoological term for the mouth, “stoma.”
No one knows for sure what triggers this condition, and vets have yet to settle on a cure. It usually takes multiple trips to the veterinarian for a cat with feline stomatitis to get treatment and relief from the pain.
Symptoms of Feline Stomatitis
Stomatitis in cats is characterized by severe pain in the mouth. There are a variety of ways your cat could show this:
- Making noises or making faces at him while rubbing his face against the couch
- Constantly drooling; the saliva may have a reddish hue.
- Entirely avoiding meals, or making an effort to eat but then stopping abruptly or sobbing while doing so
- Abandoning his personal hygiene routine
Your cat may be losing weight because it is having trouble eating due to the pain. An automatic response might cause him to take cover under the furniture (in the wild, an injured or ill cat takes cover to avoid becoming a target for predators).
There may be additional changes in your cat’s behavior, such as increased hostility when you approach him or try to feed him. It’s also possible that his gums will be red and swollen from inflammation, and that his breath will stink.
Causes of Feline Stomatitis
It is unknown what triggers feline stomatitis. However, veterinarians have put forth a few hypotheses about this phenomenon:
- It’s possible that the cat has an unusually high sensitivity to dental plaque. His body’s defenses could respond, causing inflammation. That’s one of the more popular hypotheses out there.
- Because of stress or another sickness, such feline leukemia virus, the cat’s immune system may be compromised.
- Some dog breeds may be more predisposed. Researchers have found that domestic short-haired and long-haired cats are just as likely to experience feline stomatitis as exotic breeds like the Siamese, Himalayan, Persian, and Somali.
However, preventing feline stomatitis is difficult because its underlying causes remain unknown. Maintaining your cat’s health requires consistent dental care.
Diagnosing Feline Stomatitis
A trip to the vet is in order if your cat displays any of these signs. Your veterinarian will likely provide a general anesthesia in order to examine your cat thoroughly. Since examining your cat’s mouth would require uncomfortable manipulation without anesthetic, this method may be preferable.
Your veterinarian may notice bloody, swollen gums when inspecting your cat’s mouth. Sores or lesions on the gums, roof of the mouth, or tonsils are also something she may notice. She may take X-rays of the teeth to look for signs of damage and perform a tissue biopsy to rule out more serious disorders.
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