What is stomatitis in cats, and how is it related to their oral health? As it turns out, feline oral health is not that emphasized in terms of veterinary medicine. Many cats are not given the benefit of having their teeth brushed regularly or having dental cleanings.
As a result, oral health problems such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, and missing teeth are common in cats. Some cats, however, may be susceptible to a more painful predicament such as feline stomatitis, a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the mouth.
Feline Stomatitis or Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis (FCGS) is a painful and chronic condition that results from inflammation of the tissues in the mouth. Up to 4% of cats are said to be affected by stomatitis, according to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Depending on where the inflammation is found inside the mouth, there are two recognized forms of stomatitis. These are:
This form is characterized by the presence of inflammation that starts in the gums as well as the tissues around the teeth.
This form, on the other hand, involves the “fauces”, or the area beneath the mouth where both upper and lower jaws meet. This form of stomatitis is more complicated, making it more difficult to treat.
- Symptoms of Stomatitis
- Causes of Swollen Gums and Stomatitis in Cats
- How to Diagnose Stomatitis in Cats
- Treatment for Stomatitis in Cats
- Recovery and Prevention of Feline Stomatitis
- Emergency Fund
Symptoms of Stomatitis
Areas in the mouth that are affected by Feline Stomatitis or FCGS usually appear bright red, may easily bleed, and often have a cobblestone-like appearance. Because the condition is very painful, your cat may find it challenging to eat and chew.
They may also drool, have bad breath, or have oral bleeding. You may also find them pawing around their mouths. They may groom themselves less apart from not getting the right nutrition, resulting in them having a disheveled coat.
Causes of Swollen Gums and Stomatitis in Cats
At present, the cause of stomatitis in cats is still unknown. However, viral and bacterial infections as well as inflammatory dental issues (such as periodontal disease) are likely to be involved in its development. But no matter what is triggering the condition, cats that suffer from stomatitis experience changes in their immune state.
The way that the cat’s immune system reacts disproportionately to the presence of plaque bacteria when they have stomatitis could be a significant indication. When the immune system reacts to plaque bacteria more than it should, it may lead to an increased inflammatory response. This may progress to a more serious auto-immune disease if not addressed.
Recent studies also link calicivirus, in cats developing stomatitis. Other viruses that may cause changes in a cat’s immune system such as feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus, though aren’t linked to the condition directly, may also be a factor.
Read more: 7 Critical Signs Your Pet Needs Immediate Veterinary Attention
How to Diagnose Stomatitis in Cats
While there is no single test that can accurately confirm stomatitis, there are ways for veterinarians to determine whether your cat has it or not. Diagnosis is typically done by first asking about the health and medical history of the cat, followed by a physical examination. In some cases, your vet may suggest additional tests such as feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus tests, bloodwork, and urinalysis.
Such tests may rule out other diseases (eg. kidney disease, liver disease, immunodeficiency virus, tooth resorptive lesions, and cancer) that can cause inflammation in your cat’s mouth. Examinations such as dental x-rays and oral examinations may also be recommended by for vet. In some cases, a biopsy may also be suggested.
Stomatitis in cats is common and may affect cats whatever their age or breed. While it can be severe and life-threatening, the proper treatment and care may help cats with the condition to live more comfortably.
Early detection of the symptoms of the disease may help in successfully managing it. High-quality pet cameras such as the Petcube Cam allow us pet owners to be able to monitor our cats and notice when something’s amiss. Prevention and early detection go a long way and innovative products such as the Petcube Cam address this.
Apart from the camera, you also get the opportunity to access the Online Vet service, a 24/7 service that gives you the chance to talk to certified vets regarding any concerns you may have about your pet’s health and wellness.
Treatment for Stomatitis in Cats
When it comes to treating stomatitis in cats, it would depend on several factors such as how severe the disease is as well as how the cat responds to corresponding therapeutic measures. Because the exact cause of stomatitis is yet unknown, it doesn’t have a specific treatment yet. Despite this, there are various ways to manage the disease.
To manage the condition of a cat with stomatitis, providing regular veterinary and dental care gives them the best chance to live more comfortably. Because the condition causes much pain, the initial treatment is to manage the pain through medications. Antibiotics may also be prescribed if ever your cat has an infection.
Read more: How Often Should You Take a Cat to a Vet?
As periodontal disease is somehow linked to stomatitis, it’s also likely for your vet to recommend dental care measures and check-ups, including oral cleaning and dental x-rays. Even if your cat isn’t experiencing dental or oral health problems, this is a good step to prevent such conditions.
Recovery and Prevention of Feline Stomatitis
While there are ways to manage the condition, the long-term prognosis varies. Many cats that have stomatitis will need long-term medications to control inflammation, together with occasional antibiotics.
According to research, cats who don’t respond well to medications may need tooth extractions. The surface of teeth may be susceptible to bacteria, which may cause an overreaction in the immune system. If the affected teeth are removed, this prevents the invasion of bacteria. Usually, cats that get their teeth removed only have their premolars or molars extracted. In general, many cats who undergo the procedure recover well and can eat better once the wounds heal.
Feline Stomatitis or FCGS can be a very painful and potentially fatal disease. While treatment may be complicated and take a long time, many cats can respond well through combining medications, regular dental care, and oral surgery, and can live comfortably and have a good quality of life.
While it can be worrisome to have our cat’s teeth removed, after the inflammation subsides, cats often eat better as a result. Looking forward, as more studies are made about FCGS, we hope that there would be better treatment and preventive options in the future.
Because diseases such as Feline Stomatitis can potentially be life-threatening, we cat owners need to do what we can to be ready when medical emergencies arise. With this, it would help to have an emergency fund that can cover veterinary bills on time when the need arises.
Petcube’s Pet Emergency Fund is a good example of this. The best alternative to pet insurance, the service gives subscribers access to a 24/7 online vet service apart from getting $3000 in an emergency for all your pets at less than $1 a day. With Pet Emergency Fund, you know that your pet’s welfare is given priority.
What do normal and healthy cat gums look like?
Healthy cat gums are generally pink in color and aren’t too light or too dark. However, it is also important to be aware of what color shade is normal for your cat to be able to determine if something’s wrong. In addition to this, there shouldn’t be redness around the teeth or gumline.
It also shouldn’t be swelling, bleeding, or have any sores and/or lesions. If so, it is best to bring your cat to the vet for them to be able to determine what the problem is.
Note that it’s normal for some cats to have black gums instead of pink. However, black gums may sometimes also indicate a health issue, so knowing the normal color of your cat’s gums is essential.
What do pale gums in cats mean?
If your cat’s gums are pale/white, this may indicate blood loss or shock. This is a medical emergency, so it is crucial to bring your cat to the vet immediately.
Are red gums in cats a cause for concern?
If your cat’s gums are bright pink or red, it may indicate that they have a high temperature, are sick, or may be suffering from toxicity. And if there is redness around their teeth or gumline, they may have dental issues such as periodontal disease, stomatitis, or other dental problems.