Stomatitis in Cats: Become an Expert

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Stomatitis in Cats

Table of Content


What is Stomatitis in Cats?

Stomatitis (‘stoma’ – opening and ‘itis’ – inflammatory disease) is a hindering condition that causes severe, painful inflammation in the mouth.

The specific areas targeted by stomatitis include:

  • Inflammation of the soft tissues of the mouth (gingiva [gums] which are part of the mucosa [mucous membrane])
  • Oral lesions (ulcers) around the teeth,
  • Tongue,
  • Lips,
  • Roof of the mouth,
  • Back of the throat (caudal stomatitis)

Stomatitis in cats is also referred to as:

  • Feline chronic gingivostomatitis (FCGS),
  • Lymphoplasmacytic stomatitis, or
  • Mucositis

There are two different focuses of stomatitis in cats. This depends on the area in which it resides. These are:

  1. Inflammation and oral lesions around the gums and teeth (less severe, still painful, easier to access)
  2. Caudal Stomatitis – inflammation and oral lesions at the back of the throat (this is the most severe and infuriating condition both for the cats and for treatment)

How do Cats Contract Stomatitis?

There is no complete answer to the contraction of stomatitis in cats.

It is thought that some of the conditions of stomatitis are related to the cat’s immune response to bacteria (plaque) in the mouth. Essentially, the immune system is attacking the cat’s own mouth.

Evidence from microscopic examinations shows that there are usually large amount of plasma cells on inflamed tissues. Plasma cells are a form of white blood cell produced when the immune system is attempting to fight the infection.

Cat’s that have weakened immune systems, which may be from viral infections such as Feline Immunodeficiency Viral (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV), are more susceptible to stomatitis.

Other causes include: ingestion of poisons and systemic diseases (e.g., kidney failure).

What are the Symptoms of Stomatitis in Cats?

The symptoms of stomatitis in cats can be clinically characterised by observing the following:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Red, swollen, painful looking gums
  • Drooling (may contain blood)
  • Pawing at the mouth (irritation)
  • Resistance to eating
  • Difficulty eating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Any signs of ulcers
  • Poor self-grooming (too painful)
  • Resistance to an inspection of the mouth
  • Sudden change in character (e.g. depressed)

If you are to observe any of the above, you should seek expert veterinary advice as soon as possible. Especially the more serious symptoms to do with the condition of the mouth and behaviours that indicate pain.

How is Stomatitis in Cats Diagnosed?

If you notice any of the symptoms above, you are advised to take your cat down to your local veterinary practice. Here, your vet will be able to take many different approaches toward the diagnosis of stomatitis. These are:

  • Oral examination (may be done under anaesthesia in extreme cases where the cat resists inspection due to pain)
  • Biopsies (extracting a small tissue sample – finding out if cancer or autoimmune diseases are the cause)
  • Blood tests (to eliminate any other causes of infection)
  • Viral infection tests (to eliminate any other causes of infection)
  • Urinalysis (to eliminate any other causes of infection)
  • Tooth extraction (don’t worry – this won’t harm domestic cats’ ability to eat)
  • X-rays (determine if the surrounding bones may be part of the problem)

How is Stomatitis in Cats Treated?

There are a variety of treatments available to ease the symptoms of stomatitis. However, whether they will be effective depends on your specific case. We have listed some treatments below:

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatory (stomatitis has low response rates to medications)
  • Immunosuppressant drugs (can be effective in controlling harmful immune responses)
  • Laser therapy (promotes healing, decreases inflammation)
  • Frequent teeth cleaning

If the condition can be brought under control, then everyday cleaning of the subject cats’ teeth will be required along with professional veterinary cleaning appointments as well.

  • Tooth extractions (when all else fails – severe cases)

Since the stomatitis, in most cases, is an immune response to bacteria attached the teeth (plaque), removing the teeth would be extremely beneficial in reducing oral inflammation and removing the trigger of the disease – leading to a happy and pain-free life.

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