Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Today I am going to talk about an icky, nasty, very painful condition that you can get inside your mouth.  It's called stomatitis.  Stoma is a word that means "opening," and the mouth is an opening, so an inflammation in the mouth is called stomatitis.  People can get stomatitis, dogs can get stomatitis, cats can get stomatitis, and probably other animals can get it, too.  But today I am just going to talk about the condition in cats, because our foster kitty, Astrid, probably has it.

Maybe you remember (and maybe not) that Astrid is a ragdoll cat, and she was living in a hoarding situation.  The lady who had the cats probably did the best she could, but there were 25 cats, and she couldn't afford to get them medical care and stuff like that.  So Astrid likely never had her teeth cleaned before she came into rescue.  We're not sure how old Astrid is, but Dr. Regan thinks she is maybe 8 or 10 years old.

Anyway, Astrid had such terrible teeth and such stinky breath that Aunt Tania got Astrid's teeth cleaned right away.  Five teeth got pulled, and the plaque was scraped off the rest.  Then Astrid came to our house.  But she kept having a sore, infected mouth and smelly breath.  Also she drooled sometimes.  She liked to eat, though, which was good because she is a tiny little cat like Latifa, and she just barely weighs six pounds.

Okay, so now I will tell you about stomatitis in cats.  Nobody is totally sure what causes it, but when it happens, the inside of the mouth gets really inflamed and red and swollen.  Sometimes it is connected with Feline Immunovirus (FIV) or some other virus such as calicivirus.  Other times it acts like an allergy, where the cat has a bad reaction to bacteria in the plaque on its teeth.

Some of the symptoms of stomatitis are:  not eating, losing weight, bad breath, having trouble eating, drooling, gums that bleed, and not wanting to groom.  A biopsy can be done of the mouth tissue, and this will show if the problem is really stomatitis or if there is something else going on, such as cancer or eosinophilic ganuloma complex.

Once you figure out that the cat really has stomatitis, the best thing to do is usually to take out all the cat's teeth.  Or at least all the teeth except the canines.  It seems like "canine teeth" should be called "feline teeth" in cats, but they aren't.  I can't explain why they aren't because I didn't make up the rules.  I'm just telling you how things are.  Anyway, after cats have had all their teeth removed, and after they heal up, they usually feel much, much better.  About 70%-80% of cats are totally cured of stomatitis after their teeth are removed.

The cats that aren't cured may still have some pain and inflammation, so they have to take steroids and pain killers the rest of their lives in order to keep the stomatitis under control.  It's really not a big deal to be toothless because you can still eat soft food.  And you can even eat kibble if it is soaked first, or if you don't bother to chew it before you swallow it.  At least this is what I have been told.  And I figure almost anything is better than having horrible pain in your mouth when you are trying to eat.

But getting back to Astrid, she has now been taking prednisone for 12 or 13 days.  Mom is going to have the vet at the shelter look in Astrid's mouth today to find out if the redness and stuff looks better.  Mom has tried to look in Astrid's mouth herself, but Astrid does not like to have people messing with her mouth, so Mom can't hold onto all of Astrid's feet and also pry her mouth open at the same time.  If Astrid's mouth looks better, that will mean that she probably has stomatitis and not something else wrong in there.  The rescue group could not afford to take Astrid to a specialist to get a diagnosis and a lot of dental work done on her, at least not in the beginning.

The good news is that Aunt Tania found a nice lady who is interested in adopting Astrid.  This lady rescues Yorkies, and she knows all about Astrid's dental problems.  But she has decided she is willing to try to deal with them.  So she is going to take Astrid on a foster-to-adopt basis.  This weekend sometime she is coming to our house to get Astrid.  Probably, Astrid will have to have x-rays and get all her teeth taken out and stuff like that.  I don't know who is going to pay for that, but I am not going to worry too much about it.

Astrid is a nice cat, but none of us have been very chummy and cuddly with her.  Jason pesters her sometimes and chases her, and they make loud, cat-fight noises.  He doesn't do that as much with Astrid as he used to with Achilles.  We had to get Achilles out of here because Jason bit him on the jaw one time.  So now Achilles is at the Humane Society, waiting there to be adopted.

Mom likes Astrid because she is a sweet, friendly cat who is always wanting attention.  But when Mom goes to bed, then she doesn't like having Astrid around because Astrid keeps walking all over Mom's neck and chest, and she drools on Mom and on Mom's pillow, which Mom really can't stand.  So Mom is not too sorry to see Astrid go to a nice, new home.  And anyway, Mom has all those tiny little kittens to keep her busy.


  1. I have had a few snakes die of stomatitis... it's not a fun thing. :( I hope Astrid enjoys her new home and her new owner gets it taken care of!

    1. I think it would be very bad for a snake to have stomatitis since they swallow their food so slowly, and it would hurt a lot! We decided that Astrid will go get a biopsy and also have her teeth pulled on March 26. We hope that will make her feel all better for the rest of her life. She is still going to her new home this weekend, so that is good.

  2. Any updates on Astrid? I have a cat that I'm dealing with that has stomatitis and she is going to get her teeth pulled in 3 weeks. We're very curious about what to look forward to as far as healing and final results.

    1. She had a dental done before her adoption, and the vet who did it decided that Astrid did not have stomatitis. A few more teeth were removed, and she was on antibiotics for a while, but last I heard, she was doing fine.