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.
Severe mouth pain is the primary sign of stomatitis in cats. 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.
- Your cat is either refusing to eat, or she is trying to eat but then she stops or cries during the process.
- Abandoning his personal hygiene routine
Your cat may be losing weight because it is having trouble eating due to the pain. It’s also possible that his gums will be red and swollen from inflammation, and that his breath will stink.
Other alterations in behavior could include: When you touch him or try to feed him, your cat may show hostile behavior. 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).
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. As examining your cat’s lips without anesthetic would be extremely painful for your pet, this method may be preferable.
Your veterinarian may notice bloody, swollen gums when inspecting your cat’s mouth. She may also detect lesions or ulcers on the tongue, palate, or soft palate. 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.
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 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.
Vet-prescribed pain medication is essential for cats with feline stomatitis. By administering anti-inflammatory steroids, your doctor will attempt to provide your cat with some respite. In order to cure the illness and lessen the number of bacteria, she may also recommend medications.
The initial dosages will most likely be administered via injection because of how uncomfortable it will be for your cat to take them orally. Your cat may need to see the vet again until she is able to swallow the medication.
Home medicine administration: If your cat is able to swallow pills at home, it’s important to get detailed instructions from your vet on how to do so, as their mouth will likely still be sensitive. If your cat is having trouble taking its medication, you might try mixing it with some wet food. Don’t hesitate to contact your vet if he resists taking the medication orally.
Additionally, your vet will want to perform a thorough dental cleaning on your cat, which should include scraping the tartar and plaque off of the tooth’s surface and cleaning beneath the gum line. After that, she’ll probably advise you to bring your cat in for frequent professional cleanings and to brush his teeth on a regular basis at home (though you’ll want to wait till the discomfort has eased before you do so).
In extreme circumstances, your veterinarian may recommend surgical removal of infected teeth and surrounding tissue. Veterinarians are split on whether or not to do extractions at the outset of treatment; some think it’s preferable to do so, while others would rather watch how the cat responds to the drugs first. Many cats are able to consume soft food quite soon after surgery and, once they have recovered, dry kibble. After oral surgery, most cats may get back to living normally without any discomfort.
Your veterinarian may recommend dietary supplements if your cat has lost a significant amount of weight or if his health has been jeopardized due of his inability to eat normally while ill. Once your cat’s acute pain has lessened, you can administer these to it orally.
Even though feline stomatitis is potentially quite unpleasant for cats, it can be effectively treated and the cat can return to a normal life with routine dental care.
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