Ask A Vet: My Cat Has Stomatitis. What Does This Mean?

| Published on August 22, 2015

If your vet says that your cat has Feline Stomatitis, what exactly does she mean?

The word “stoma” is derived from the Greek word for mouth. Stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth) is somewhat common in our feline friends. It is most often noticed by owners who smell a foul odor emanating from the mouth of their cat. Upon closer examination, the gums are swollen, infected and red. The teeth that remain are often caked with tartar and the cat may resist handling and oral examination. Sometimes owners will report that the cat acts interested in food, but will turn away as if pained. But many times cats will muscle through the pain and hide it.

No one has identified what the exactly causes stomatitis, but we do know that it is a source of significant pain to the cat. Some say that it is an auto-immune issue possibly linked to viruses that cats commonly see in their lives and certainly affected cats should be tested for concurrent infection with Feline Leukemia virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Other common disease of cats must be tested for as a part of every stomatitis work-up, like diabetes and hyperthyroidism. Your veterinarian will review your cat’s medical history and suggest needed diagnostics specific to your cat.

Affected cats can benefit from a through dental exam and cleaning under anesthesia. Dental radiographs will reveal the involvement of the teeth and help make an effective plan for addressing the disease.

Treatment may include immune suppressive medications, antibiotics and even dental extractions. Many cats’ symptoms will recur despite therapy and complete remission is more likely to obtained from a visit to a veterinary dentist for evaluation and probably extraction of all of the teeth and any remaining retained tooth roots.

Because extraction must be meticulous and complete, only a veterinarian equipped with dental radiology should attempt this type of extraction. Most clients report a dramatic improvement in their cat fairly quickly after surgical extraction of affected teeth, but all post-operative cases should be closely monitored for complications. Occasionally post-operative cats will refuse to eat for a time and may require a temporary feeding tube. Talk to your vet about how aggressively your cat’s disease should be treated.

Stomatitis is a frustrating and difficult problem requiring emotional and financial commitment from the owner, but with the help of your veterinarian, your cat’s pain will be addressed and his quality of life improved.

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vet thumbnailAbout The Author: Dr. Kathryn Primm is a practicing small animal veterinarian. She has consulted on articles for national magazines, done numerous radio interviews and appeared on local television. She has contributed to an article for Prevention magazine and Woman’s Day in Feb 2014 and June 2015. Her radio segment Chattanooga Pet Talk airs each week on all the local iHeart Media affiliates.

She has a social media presence on TwitterFacebook and Google+ and enjoys interaction with others about her passions, animals and communication. She is a regular contributor to Boomeon, the online community which can be found at . She has also written a book, Tennessee Tails:Pets and Their People. The book received recognition as Runner Up in the Memoirs category at a national book festival. You can read more about Dr. Primm and how to get the best value for your pet care dollar at her website,

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