Feline Stomatitis

What is Feline Stomatitis?

There are actually three forms of stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth) recognized in cats to date, but the cause of stomatitis in cats remains undetermined. At this time the most plausible theory is that cats with stomatitis are “allergic” or have an inflammatory reaction to their teeth.

Feline Juvenile Stomatitis (FJS)

is characterized by a hyperemic (red), proliferative gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) occurring just prior to the eruption of the permanent teeth. There is generally a thin film of plaque covering the teeth at this stage that may not even be visible to the untrained eye. While any cat can develop FJS, it is most commonly seen in Abyssinians and Persians.

Juvenile Onset Periodontitis (JOP)

is primarily seen in Siamese, Maine Coon Cats and Domestic Short-hairs, but again, may be seen in any breed of cat. Large amounts of plaque and calculus develop rapidly in these young animals and the clinical signs of pain and inflammation appear at the eruption of the permanent teeth. The gingiva in these cats is swollen and inflamed. They tend to have severe oral disease including gingival and bone recession, periodontal pockets, root exposure and resorptive lesions.

Adult Onset Periodontitis (AOP)

Clinically, inflammation of the oral mucosa and the pharynx (back of the mouth) is very severe in these patients.

What is the Treatment for Stomatitis?

Treatment for all forms of feline stomatitis is aimed at complete removal of plaque and calculus from the teeth by performing a professional dental cleaning every three months and removal of diseased teeth with resorptive lesions. Stringent home care including daily brushing and cleaning is mandatory in between hospital visits. Cats with FJS tend to improve by two to three years of age and require less frequent (bi-annual) professional cleanings, although stringent home care must be maintained. Use of corticosteroids or other drugs such as cyclosporine can sometimes be beneficial in the management of AOP, however many patients become resistant to the benefits of corticosteroids over time. Typically cats with stomatitis have very painful mouths due to the severe inflammation making stringent home care difficult or impossible. In these cases the only alternative to constant treatment is removal of all of the teeth. In some patients, even with removal of all of the teeth, enough plaque is retained in the tongue to cause ongoing problems. These cases are typically managed with low doses of cyclosporine and chlorhexidine mouth rinses for life. Hypoallergenic diets are often beneficial as well.

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