Feline Stomatitis or Gingivo Stomatitis

Oral Agony for Cats

stomatitis catFeline gingivo stomatitis, also known as lymphocytic plasmacytic stomatitis is a very painful disease that affects the gums (gingivo) and/or the back portion of the mouth in cats. While eating might be causing a cat agony, many show no symptoms that their owners are able to recognize. Due to the painful nature of stomatitis, all cats should have regular oral examinations by a veterinarian to ensure that stomatitis is not present.

Cause and Symptoms

The cause of gingivo stomatitis is unknown but we do know the condition is related to the pet’s immune system overreacting to bacteria present in plaque. The cat's immune system actually sends huge quantities of immune cells to attack the gum tissue which create a severe reaction in the gum and/or back portion of the oral cavity.

There have also been many studies that show a correlation between chronic gingivo stomatitis and the presence of calicivirus.

Other than oral cancer, gingvo stomatitis is the most serious disease of the mouth. Symptoms vary (see Symptoms of Feline Gingivo Stomatitis below) and unfortunately, cats are notorious for not showing symptoms until they are extremely ill, hiding signs of even serious diseases that could be diagnosed with regular veterinary visits. Feline stomatitis is no exception.

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Symptoms of Feline Gingivo Stomatitis

All cats do not show signs that they have this painful condition so twice-yearly check ups are important, but contact your veterinarian if your cat has any of the following symptoms.


Historically, treatment for feline gingivo stomatitis has been unrewarding. Medical treatments can provide temporary relief of symptoms, but until we understand what causes the condition, treatment is aimed at reducing tissue inflammation. Steroid injections can help control inflammation, but they can cause serious side effects in cats and must be used sparingly and with caution.

Steroid injections also become increasingly less effective over time. Antibiotics can help somewhat, but they also become less effective as time goes on. Laser treatment is sometimes used to provide a temporary positive benefit; but must be repeated every few months. Immuno suppressants and immune stimulates have booth been used with varying but generally unrewarding success.

Cats with gingivo stomatitis may have other diseases affecting the gums and/or the teeth in front of the mouth (canines and incisors) that also require care. A thorough oral examination, including an x-ray evaluation, may uncover periodontal disease or defects in the enamel known as resorptive lesions, which are troublesome because they are painful to the cat. Resorptive lesions are usually eliminated by extracting the affected teeth.

Due to the painful nature of disease, all cats should have regular oral examinations
to ensure that gingivo stomatitis is not present.

Extract the Problem

Currently, the only treatment that has proven to show significant results is extraction of the affected teeth. Most cats that have had extractions require no further treatment. Soft food is prescribed for two weeks. After this time some cats prefer to return to their dry kibble. For the remaining cats, some form of medical therapy is needed. A small number of cats do not improve regardless of the type of treatment.

We do know from experience that younger cats treated with extraction
are less likely to require further medical therapy.
While older cats that have suffered long with this disease are more likely to require additional treatment.

Pain Control

Pain management is particularly important before and after treatment. New understanding of different ways that the cat’s body maintains pain allows us to use a combination of pain medications before and following surgery that provide much more effective pain relief for your cat than was possible in the past. This generally requires intravenous and injectable administration of pain medication before extractions are done, but helps avoid extended hospital stays and feeding tubes that were required in the past. Many cats eat very well a few hours after surgery even if they had poor appetites beforehand.

Difficult Disease

Feline gingivo stomatitis is painful and serious. Symptoms may be vague or absent in some cats. Therefore, it is extremely important that cats visit the veterinary office twice yearly for a thorough examination. The mouth should receive special attention due to the severe consequences of this disease in our feline companions.


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