Opinions on Gingivitis/Stomatitis in Cats

Here is a conversation culled from the Angels with Fur Japan mailing list pertaining to gingivitis and stomatitis in cats. I thought I would post it on our website as I felt that it might help pet owners who are facing a difficult decision about the treatment of these diseases. As always, please consult your veterinarian for professional advice when your pet has a medical condition.

Question 1

About two weeks ago, my male 9 year old cat was almost definitely diagnosed with chronic gingivitis/stomatitis, a condition that is treatable with corticosteroids shots and antibiotics. According to my vet, it is not curable and no one really knows why some cats are more susceptible than others. It seems genetics/heredity might even play a role. We’ve ruled out FELV (feline leukemia) and FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus).

I intuitively know it is a bad idea to give bi-weekly injections of corticosteroids and keep my cat on antibiotics indefinitely but the redness in his mouth — towards the back where the tonsils are — is pretty painful, I think, especially when he yawns. I’ve heard of giving supplements of COQ-10 enzyme and buffered (vitamin) C to keep the immune system highly functional but I’m not sure of the exacts dosages. Has anyone here tried this regime? I’d appreciate any and all info before I start researching.

Will be grateful for any info from list members on the subject of chronic gingivitis/stomatitis in cats.


Answer 1

I can’t answer your question because I don’t have cats, but maybe I can help you find some answers. When my dog was diagnosed with a liver problem I was already a member of a Yahoo group called K9 nutrition. I posted on that group about my problem and people there directed me to two other Yahoo groups specifically related to canine liver problems. I am sure there are some feline health groups and you probably will find someone who has a cat with similar problem.

Also, thanks to the liver group people, I was told about various supplements and dosages. Of course none of those supplements are available here and I was directed to Dr. Jeff at Homevet in the US.

They have been fantastic about answering questions and shipping me what I need.

I hope this helps. Nothing worse than a sick pet!


Answer 2

Stomatitis can be horribly painful. It is an ulceration of the skin, and depending on where the lesions are located it can make eating very painful. They can be on the tongue, on the gums and anywhere on the side of the mouth. It is common to see it as a symptom in low immunity cats but there are many causes including viral. It is a typical reason why stray cats with plenty of access to food get thinner and thinner. You will also see some approach food and then back away, or cough or choke when trying to eat, or thinking about eating. Failure of a cat to clean itself well can be another indication of mouth ulcers.

Our dear Sumi has mouth ulcers (kuchi no kaiyo) and we take her in once a mouth for a steroid injection and everyday we give her peterna (powder you mix in food with water, made from cow colostrum, see http://www.peterna.com/index.htm) which we believe has added significantly to her well being, and some powdered meds from the vet (though not sure what is in that concoction). We are new to peterna this year. It has more than once now turned around our sick kittens and weak adults. It is more costly. Great stuff. We understand that the steroids will do long term organ damage but we have decided that the quality of life provided by once a month injections is worth the trade off

In the past for another cat we used pet tinic. Pet Tinic is a daily liquid supplement (iron, copper, vitamins). You drop it on food. I’m sure you can buy it online from any big supplier of supplements.

We read about full teeth removal (in the US) having some great benefit but decided against that.


Question 2

I appreciate your sharing the decision you made regarding Sumi’s everyday quality of life and use of steroids. I do not want to have my cat’s teeth pulled. Do they tend to pull all of them from what you understand — even the little front ones and the canines? Do vets in Japan shun the tooth-pulling option? If so, why?

My cat was in excellent health from 1999-2007 in Tokyo. He developed dental problems in April of this year — 6 months after we moved to California. He has already had two molars removed from the upper bridge. I started administering CO-Q10 in droplets yesterday and applying buffered C in powder form to his wet food. His sister also eats the wet food. Would buffered C be bad for her, since she is not affected with this condition?

I also wonder if stomatitis is related to stress. Had anyone heard about a relationship?


Answer 3

Didn’t realize you were in the US. That opens up a slew of opportunities! First of, check out the American Veterinary Dental College website. On the left they have a link to dentists in various areas. Maybe one is near or near enough to you. These are vets who have essentially gone on to specialize in veterinary dentistry.

Second, if you have time, go to the Pet Life Radio website and click on The Pet Doctor and listen to episode 41. It is an interview with a vet dentist about feline dental problems.

And last, here is a good overview from Pet Education on your cat’s condition.

As I understand it, and I am no expert, the cat’s tooth rots from within. In the case of human teeth our cavities start from the outside and go in. In cats, it goes from the inside out. That is why they recommend pulling. It relieves the pain.


Answer 4

My intuition would be that stress would aggravate stomatitis but not cause it. I think stress can be an aggravate for almost all cat illnesses. If there are already dental problems I would think that would be connected. My Japanese vet felt like removing all the teeth would take a lot of time, and would be costly, and he wasn’t sold on the benefits. We presented the idea to him based on US articles.


Answer 5

The day I read your post, one of our cats was in the clinic getting the procedure done (pulling out all his teeth.) There is no single tooth left in his mouth. I wanted to wait to see how he is doing before responding. He is doing great now and gaining weight.

Background:
This cat of ours was generally healthy until he started to have teeth problems. It started sometime 6-7 years ago and he is now 10 years old. Prior to developing teeth problems, he was having his teeth brushed almost everyday. His teeth problem started with red gums, which the vets said was due to his autoimmune problem. We lived in Hong Kong and U.S before with him and now Japan. All vets have said that, eventually, all his teeth needed to be pulled out. I asked of how he was going to eat then and they also said that he would be able to eat normally as their jaws are very strong. When I heard this, I couldn’t believe how this could be. (Now, our tooth-less cat eats normally and eats both wet/dry foods happily.) During those 7 years that he had problems with his teeth, he had to go in twice to get some teeth pulled and cleaned. He also was constantly treated with Prednisone and antibiotics. Between treatments, I also gave him golden seal, echinacea, colostrum, and probiotics. Golden seal seemed to help a lot with infection. I needed to give him probiotic later as his poops would be very soft as the tooth problem (I think) was giving him a digestive problem as well. Over the years, he slowly started to lose weight even though he was eating and taking Prednisone.

Some vets may be more aggressive in suggesting pulling all teeth out than others. Truly, from my experience, if I’d known that he would have more normal life, which was less painful, I’d have had pulled all his teeth out as soon as a vet suggested instead of subjecting him to all medications and digestion problems. However, please note that some cats do have an improved condition after having their teeth cleaned and removing a few bad teeth. And, a few may have their problems goes away completely. Prednisone has a lot of side effects but helps with his condition. His behavior changed with Prednisone as he became more aggressive and moody. He is now drug free, eating normally, enjoying his wet/dry/raw foods, gaining healthy weight, in a better mood, and no longer has wet poops.

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6 Comments

  1. Nell

    Hi Ive adopted a stray cat last year and she seems to have this chronic virus that swells her mouth, throat etc. Shes been given 3 shots by now and is on prednisolone. My vet said its either the medz or shell starve to death. Before I took her to the vet she wasnt eating, always with her tongue sticking out, would not eat dry food and the last week green saliva was oozing out of her mouth, obviously because of the infection ( I was very busy with work before the condition got this worse, it was christmas and couldnt find vets by then, so I saw the worse things it could do to a cat. The vet said the medication is given to prelong the shot’s effectiveness as much as possible.. Its chronic, but I was hoping some day the virus hibernates or that it allows her atleast more time between each shot like every two months or more instead of every month. So if you start noticing the above symptoms, youll know what ur probably be dealing with and goodluck! Its amazing what change I see when after she takes her shot and feels better ^_^

  2. Nell

    Ps. Ive had cats all my life and had never come across a cat with this condition. Ive never seen stray cats like my cat was either, anyone knows if its rare or if this condition has suddenly increased? Thanks.. Btw vet said its not contagious to humans!

  3. Nell

    And today Ive noticed most of her teeth are missin 😦 probably bcoz of the swelling..

  4. Norma

    My cat had all her teeth removed 6 years ago due to gum disease.she is as overweight now as she was before losing her teeth. She is lazy and loves food. Eats only dry food and has no problems with it I.now have had to have most teeth removed from another cat but not worried as the other cat has done so well. .All my 6 cats are ex feral kittens but have eaten only Hills dry food and are in good condition.They have regular and good vet. care. They are indoor cats with access to an outdoor run/enclosure.

  5. christine

    My Cali has had stomatitis since she was 6 months old, I tried many different antibiotics including pulse therapy and she was on prednisolone for an extended amount of time. At 4 years old I had to make the decision to pull her teeth where the stomatitis was prevalent. I was able to save her small teeth and her fangs. Her stomatitis has improved but is not completely gone. She has no problems at all eating her dry food or treats. The surgery may not have cured her but she is in a lot less pain. As of now 2 months post op she has been taken off all meds, I will go back next month to see if it will be necessary to start pulse therapy again. Cats are remarkable healers and I do recommend the surgery

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