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Gingivitis And Stomatitis In Cats

Feb 4, 2013 · Updated Jan 31, 2017 · ·
  1. Anne

    What is Feline Gingivitis?

    Gingivitis simply means an inflammation of the gums (Ginga in Latin). Food debris and bacteria accumulate on the teeth and gums to become plaque. Left untreated, the layer of plaque hardens and turns into tartar (also called calculus). The layer of tartar is often visible in the form of yellow residue along the line where teeth meet gums.

    The tartar can cause an inflammatory reaction in the gums and they become tender and reddish in color. Mild forms of gum disease are very common in cats. They are not limited to senior cats. Young cats and even kittens are also susceptible to Gingivitis.

    Plasmacytic-Lymphocytic Stomatitis (LPGS)

    Plasmacytic-Lymphocytic Stomatitis (or LPGS) is a severe form of Gingivitis affecting the cat’s entire mouth tissues. Stoma is Latin for “an opening” and in this context it stands for the cat’s mouth. The words “Plasmacytic” and “Lymphocytic” refer to the white blood cells which the cat’s body secretes as part of the actual immune reaction in the gum tissues.

    FGS is another term sometimes used to describe this syndrome and it stands for Feline Gingivitis Stomatitis.

    LPGS is a condition unique to cats. It is a type of Gingivitis where the gums have an extreme reaction to the plaque on the teeth, resulting in severe inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissues. Over the years we have seen quite a few LPGS Kitties in the TCS community, with Gingivitis and LPGS often being the topic of threads in the Cat Health Forum.

    What Causes LPGS?

    Nobody knows for sure why some cats are affected with this syndrome while others are not. It seems that some cats just have a strong immune reaction to plaque while others do not. While many afflicted cats have other immune-related diseases such as FIV, FeLV and Feline Diabetes, in some cases it may just be genetic predisposition. Certain infectious agents are also under investigation as possible contributing factors to LPGS. Bartonella and feline calicivirus are two such suspects.

    Feline Gingivitis/Stomatitis Symptoms

    Advanced stages of Gingivitis and LPGS have similar symptoms:
    • Inflamed, red and swollen gums.
    • Halitosis (bad breath).
    • Gums may tend to bleed when touched.
    Tartar buildup on Avalon's teeth
    Picture by tweetykiss

    Pain is obviously an issue, but cats can show their pain in various ways. Affected cats may avoid food or prefer canned food over kibble. Some cats drool or paw at their face and others may stop grooming their coat, resulting in an unkempt appearance. Pain can certainly cause cats to become aggressive and generally agitated.

    Many cats may not show the pain in any visible way and may chomp away merrily on their food even with inflamed gums. Such was the case with Mr Poe, a 2-year-old neutered male belonging to TCS forum member Catapult. Mr Poe’s Gingivitis wasn’t diagnosed until it was time for his annual check up and the vet’s examination revealed red gums. “Mind you, he'd been eating well, in fact, eagerly would better describe his appetite.” says Catapult.

    Diagnosing Gingivitis and Stomatitis in cats

    Your vet will look for layers of tartar on the cat’s teeth and inflamed gums and mouth tissues as well as other signs of dental and periodontal diseases. If LPGS is suspected, your vet is likely to perform a biopsy and possibly take X-rays as well. Your vet may suggest looking for underlying causes such as Feline Diabetes or FIV, which may require additional blood tests.

    Treatment of Gingivitis and Stomatitis

    Usually, the first step of treatment is to reduce the amount of tartar and plaque by performing a complete dental scaling and polishing. Ideally, this should be followed by a strict dental home care routine including daily toothbrushing or at least rinsing. In reality many owners cannot effectively clean their cat’s teeth, even more so when it comes to the orally-sensitive LPGS cats.

    Lucy drooling following her extraction

    In some cases it is possible to temporarily control LPGS with medications, including antibiotics and steroids (anti-inflammatory drugs). This is not a good long-term solution due to the side effects of steroids, but it does offer instant relief for the cat. Lucy is an LPGS cat treated with steroids in the form of Depo-Medrol shots. Her owner, TCS member txcatmom describes the first time Lucy had her shot: “...the results were dramatic. Four hours later I saw her give herself the most amazing all over bath.”

    In many cases of LPGS the only long-term solution is to extract the teeth to prevent any accumulation of plaque in the mouth. Some cats do well with a partial extraction, where the canine teeth, and sometimes the small front teeth as well, remain intact. However, in many cases the only course of action is a full mouth extraction.

    Surprisingly, cats do very well without any teeth at all. If you’re concerned with the effects of a complete extraction of a cat’s teeth you should read this article: Can Cats Manage without Teeth.

    The Effect of Nutrition on Gingivitis and LPGS

    Bugsy's mouth mid-treatment - note the thin red line between the teeth and gums

    While there are no published studies at this time pertaining to nutrition and LPGS, it is clear that feeding kibble does not prevent accumulation of plaque/tartar. It is worth mentioning that many of our community members report significant improvement in both Gingivitis and LPGS after switching to eating raw food.

    Long-term forum member and raw-feeding advocate Carolina can testify to the effects of Raw Feeding on her Bugsy’s LPGS. It was a fairly severe case of Stomatitis, as she describes: “blisters on the roof and the back of the mouth, going on the throat, and the gums were very inflamed”. Bugsy was treated with several kinds of medications and was eventually switched to raw food. Several months after discontinuing medication and following a strictly raw diet, Bugsy’s mouth is beautifully pink with just a trace of Gingivitis left.

    If you wish to look into raw feeding please educate yourself on the risks as well by reading this article: Feeding Raw to Cats - Safety Concerns. Keep in mind that all leading veterinary organizations object to raw feeding. With that in mind, TheCatSite does not in any way or form advocate raw feeding.

    Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions about your cat? Post them in the cat forums.

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  1. cosmos17
    Has there been any reports of cats compelled to pull out their fur associated with prednisolone?
    This is not a grooming issue.
    1. Furballsmom
      Hi Cosmos17! If you haven't already, you will want to post your question in the Cat Health
      That's where our forum members hang out and they can provide you with advice regarding this issue. Thank you!
  2. Niecee
    Hi. . First time on this forum. My 9 year old tuxedo, Juliet, was diagnosed with stomatitis last week. I'd taken her in bc she'd stopped eating and had lost weight. My vet said her case was mild. She was treated with a steroid and is on an antibiotic. She's eating again. I go back tomorrow evening for a follow up. I wanted to post here, bc everything I've read on stomatitis has been so negative. Has anyone had any positive treatment?
  3. joy123
    To all my fellow cat parents, I feel compelled to share some remarkable news with you regarding feline stomatitis. My 7 year old orange tabby has been afflicted with this awful condition since she was 2. To make a long story short, she has received every known medicine prescribed for this condition, but nothing helped long term. The last trip was to an animal dental specialist who does full mouth extractions. As I was in the process of saving my money to afford this procedure I decided to try giving her nascent iodine which I regularly take myself. I put one drop in 2 cups of fresh filtered water which I changed out every 3 days. Three months later I dropped her by the veternary clinic for an update on her shots and asked that her mouth be checked to track the progress of the disease. To my astonishment it was reported that there was no sign of stomatitis present. In disbelief, I asked if they were examining the right cat and, of course, they were. It is now 6 months later and I am continuing to use this treatment for her and she is continuing to do well. The brand of nascent iodine I used is "Detoxadine" from a company called "Global Healing Center". I am not affiliated in any way with this company other than being a customer. I am sharing this information in hopes that it helps you and your beloved pets.
    1. madamemultari
      Dear Joy, thank you for your post. May I ask how your cat is now?
      Was there any other condition that your cat may have had at the time?
      Thank you!
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