Diagnosing and Treating Stomatitis in Cats

Stomatitis, also known as Lymphocytic Plasmacytic Stomatitis/Faucitis or Ulcerative Stomatitis, is a painful disease characterized by severe and widespread inflammation in the mouths of cats. Unfortunately, Stomatitis is a common and often painful disease that can be very challenging to treat. We don’t know the exact causes(s) of this disease, but it is thought to be caused by an overreaction of a cat’s immune system, to the plaque that is present on the teeth. It is normal for the immune system to react to plaque, which has many bacteria in it, but in patients with Stomatitis, the response seems to be much higher than in the average cat. Other possible causes that have been proposed include unusual types of bacteria present in the mouth and possible viral influences.While some inflammation is normally present along the gum line as calculus (tartar) builds up, in these patients the inflammation spreads to the soft tissues away from the teeth, under the tongue and sometimes in the back of the throat. 

The severe oral inflammation in these cats leads to painful ulcers, foul breath, resorption of hard dental tissues, and difficulty in eating, sometimes at a very early age. Some cats have large areas of their oral cavity affected with painful, raw areas. Cats that are most severely affected have large ulcerated areas in the back of the throat, referred to as “caudal mucositis”. The very act of eating can be very painful for these cats. Stomatitis can be a very debilitating condition for the cat, and should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. 

Signs and Symptoms of Stomatitis in Cats

Knowing the signs and symptoms of stomatitis in cats can help owners to identify a potential problem and get their cat to a vet for treatment as soon as possible. The signs of stomatitis in cats can include:

  • Weight loss
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased sleeping
  • Bad breath
  • Decreased grooming
  • Attitude changes or reclusive behavior

Treatment of Stomatitis in Cats

It is important to rule out other diseases that can mimic stomatitis. We see cats that have been previously diagnosed with stomatitis that actually had other treatable problems. Once your cat has been diagnosed with stomatitis, the course of treatment depends on the severity of the lesions and where they are located in the mouth. Some cases can be treated with various forms of medical therapy, while others require some level of extractions. Extracting teeth removes the surfaces on the teeth where plaque forms. In some cats partial mouth extraction can provide relief, while in others all the remaining teeth and any retained roots need to be extracted. If medical therapy is not an option for your cat, extractions will usually provide relief. Some cats require additional treatment to control the disease after extractions. Treatment plans and procedures vary from patient to patient, depending on the severity of the condition, distribution of the disease in the mouth and symptoms. Most cases have positive outcomes and the cats live much better lives after the condition is treated.

When we do major surgery on cats, we are careful to control and treat pain. Pain is much easier to prevent than it is to treat after it starts. With that in mind, these surgical patients receive local anesthetic blocks before the surgery starts, multiple pain medications preoperatively, constant rate infusions of pain medications during the procedure, post-operative pain medications as they are recovering from anesthesia and go home on pain medication.

While major extractions may seem like an aggressive course of treatment, this is frequently the best way to get your cat back to his happy and healthy self. Your cat can live completely normal lives with no teeth. In fact, your cat will be much happier after the painful inflammation in his mouth is resolved! If you have concerns about your cat eating with no teeth, you can read our previous blog on feeding cats with no teeth.

Call Us to Set Up an Appointment Today!

If you think your cat may have signs or symptoms of stomatitis, give us a call to set up an appointment to be seen by Dr. Tony Woodward DVM, AVDC, the only board-certified veterinary dentist in Montana, located in Bozeman, 


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