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Feline stomatitis or FCGS (feline chronic gingivostomatitis), is a very painful and often life-threatening condition where the soft tissues in a cat’s mouth—the gums, cheeks and tongue—become inflamed and irritated. Luckily, I’ve never had such an ailment, because despite the fact that I have an inverted rib cage, I am the picture of kitty cat health (flattery will get you no where, evil vet).
If you notice your cat having a hard time eating and that their gums are red, swollen or bleeding, they might be suffering from feline stomatitis.
Luckily, treatment options are available and affected cats are mostly still able to recover and continue living a normal, pain-free life.
Signs And Symptoms Of Feline Stomatitis
- Halitosis or bad breath
- Red, swollen gums and tongue
- Lack of appetite
- Inability or reluctance to eat
- Excessive drooling or salivation
- Tooth resorption
- Bleeding gums
- Undergrooming or not grooming at all
- Pawing at the mouth
Causes Of Feline Stomatitis
It is not entirely clear what causes some cats to develop feline stomatitis, but it is believed that certain viruses, bacteria and inflammatory diseases are involved in triggering the development of the condition. Although generally, it is considered that the most probable cause for feline stomatitis is the response of the cat’s immune system to the buildup of plaque bacteria.
Their immune system’s overactive response to the accumulation of plaque bacteria leads to an excessive inflammatory reaction that can sometimes progress into a more serious auto-immune condition where the cat’s body will start to attack its own oral tissues. Another trigger for the condition can be the calicivirus, which is a virus that can affect a cat’s oral cavity. Other viruses that affect the immune system, like FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) and FeLV (feline leukemia), may also play a role.
A veterinarian will examine your cat’s oral cavity for plaque, lesions, inflammation, redness and other visual signs of feline stomatitis. Complete laboratory blood work and screening for feline diseases such as FIV and FeLV will then be done to rule out other medical conditions. If the inflammation is localized, biopsy may also be done to rule out oral cancer and localized infection.
At the veterinary clinic, your cat will be given analgesics or pain medication to help with pain management and some steroids to reduce inflammation. Your veterinarian may also prescribe them some antibiotics to treat the infection and reduce bacteria.
Since your cat won’t be able to orally take the medicines, your veterinarian will most probably administer their medication via injection and you will need to follow-up on vet appointments until your cat is well enough to take the medicines by mouth.
Once your cat feels better and they’re able to take medication orally, you can continue giving them their medicines at home. But, be sure to ask your vet for specific instructions on how to properly administer them. If your cat is refusing to take their medication orally, contact your vet immediately.
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Professional Dental Cleaning
Given the circumstances, your veterinarian will most likely give your cat professional dental cleaning that cleanses their entire oral cavity including the teeth under the gum line. They’ll also recommend you to continue coming in for professional cleanings and to regularly brush your cat’s teeth at home—after their mouth completely heals, of course.
In severe cases, some veterinarians will want to surgically extract teeth and inflamed oral tissues during the early stages of treatment, while others may prefer to see how the cats will respond to medications first.
After the surgery, many cats are able to eat soft food several weeks into the healing process. Once they’ve healed, they’ll manage to eat dry kibble. Then, after they’ve fully recovered from the oral surgery, most cats resume a normal, healthy life.
Many vets will suggest giving your cat dietary supplements after recovering from feline stomatitis since majority of the time, cats who have been affected lose a substantial amount of weight and end up with compromised health because of their inability to eat properly during the illness.
Regularly brushing your cat’s teeth at home and following up on annual professional dental cleaning sessions is the most effective way to prevent your cat from developing feline stomatitis and other dental diseases.