Stomatitis is an inflamed, sore
mouth, and should be suspected when you see drooling, refusal to eat,
difficulty chewing, head shaking, pawing at the face, and reluctance to allow a
mouth examination. The inside of the mouth looks reddened, inflamed, swollen,
and tender. The gums may bleed when rubbed. Bad breath is present. Lack of
self-grooming is evident. Cats
may show pain when yawning or opening their mouths to eat.
Cats with any form of stomatitis must be examined by a veterinarian. In some
cases, stomatitis is directly attributable to periodontal disease or a foreign object caught between
the teeth or imbedded in the tongue. Other cases are associated with an immune
deficiency disease such as feline immunodeficiency virus,
feline leukemia, feline viral respiratory disease complex, or
kidney failure. Cases caused by
a specific infection include the following.
The cat normally has four pairs of mammary glands. The
upper two pairs have a common lymphatic channel and drain into the axillary
(armpit) lymph nodes. The lower pairs also have a common channel and drain into
the inguinal (groin) lymph nodes. Infections and tumors of the breasts may cause enlargement of the
corresponding lymph nodes.
This is an extremely painful stomatitis caused by a bacteria-like pathogen,
a spirochete. There is a characteristic offensive mouth odor, usually
accompanied by a brown, purulent, slimy saliva that stains the front of the
legs. The gums are beefy red and bleed easily. Trench mouth occurs in cats with
severe periodontal disease and in those who are run-down because of chronic
illness or dietary deficiency. Frontal sinus infection can occur as a
complication of trench mouth. Cats with diabetes, feline leukemia virus
infection, or FIV may be predisposed to this disease.
Treatment: Your veterinarian may decide to thoroughly clean the cat’s mouth
under anesthesia. This provides the
opportunity to treat any decayed roots, loose teeth, and dental calculus.
Ulcers may be cauterized with silver nitrate. Infection is treated with an
antibiotic. Afterward, the cat is placed on soft, canned food diluted with
water or plain broth to a liquid consistency. Aftercare involves daily
mouthwashes using 0.1 percent chlorhexidine solution, accompanied by a home
program of good oral hygiene.
Ulcerative (Viral) Stomatitis
This is an extremely painful stomatitis in which ulcers form on the tip of
the tongue and hard palate. The saliva is clear at first, then becomes
blood-tinged and foul smelling. A yellow puslike exudate forms on the surface
of the ulcers. Ulcerative stomatitis is seen most often in association with the
feline respiratory disease complex, especially calicivirus.
Treatment: It is the same as for Necrotizing Ulcerative Stomatitis, except
that antibiotics are not recommended
unless the problem is complicated by a secondary bacterial infection.
Yeast Stomatitis (Thrush)
This is an uncommon form of stomatitis seen chiefly when a cat has been on a
prolonged course of broad-spectrum antibiotics that alters the normal flora of
the mouth and allows the overgrowth of yeast. It also occurs in
immunodeficiency states associated with chronic illness. The mucous membranes
of the gums and tongue are covered with soft white patches that coalesce to
form a whitish film. Painful ulcers appear as the disease progresses.
Treatment: Nystatin and clotrimazole are the drugs of choice. Large doses of
B-complex vitamins are also recommended. Ketoconazole may also be used for
Candida infections. Correction of all predisposing causes is essential.
WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"