Wednesday, March 13, 2013
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.
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.
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.