Feline gingivitis or stomatitis is a very common problem in adult cats. It is painful inflammation of the gums, and mouth. Often the gums and gingival tissue is red, swollen and bleeding. Bad breath is always present and sometimes there is infection.
No one really knows what causes this problem although there are a few theories.
Some cases seem to be related to food allergy or sensitivity. Other may have existing oral cavity disease – specifically unattended to dental disease. Chronic viral infection, particularly with Herpes virus is sometimes implicated. Chemical toxicity – plastics, environmental chemicals, preservative make these patients susceptible to disease. The earlier use of suppressive agents to inhibit the immune system’s ability to function that is steroids, NSAIDs, antibiotics, and l-lysine can increase the chances of stomatitis developing. Nutritional imbalances or excesses can be a factor along with other stressors that alter immune function and predispose to chronic inflammation.
The main symptoms of stomatitis are bad breath and a painful mouth. This is indicated by pawing at the mouth, excess drooling possible with blood, decreased appetite, and behavioural changes. If your cat has these symptoms he should be checked out by a veterinarian. Many times the veterinarian has to anesthetize the cat to look in the mouth because it is so painful. At this time the doctor may need to clean the teeth and perhaps biopsy the gums. It is very important to have good oral hygiene if your cat has this problem.
The treatment for this problem will depend on the cause. Some of these cats end up with all of their teeth extracted. Some of them end up on medications like antibiotics, prednisone, cyclosporine, and pain meds. Sometimes this helps and sometimes it does not.
Alternative treatments for stomatitis focus on food therapy, immune therapy and herbs. I recommend a high protein, low carb diet with a novel protein. Homemade would be preferable but a grain free canned food could also work. Chinese herbs, Co-Q 10, acupuncture and homotoxicology may be helpful. L-lysine and immune support vitamins can also be helpful.