Feline gingivostomatitis is characterized by inflammation or ulceration of the gums or oral mucosa and can become chronic. We explain how to identify if your cat suffers from this disease and what care it needs.
The feline gingivostomatitis is a disease of the oral cavity joint in cats characterized by inflammation or ulceration of the gums (gingivitis) connected often to inflammation of the oral mucosa (stomatitis), covering the palate, cheeks, and tongue. If the rash persists for more than six months, the gingivostomatitis is considered to have become a chronic process.
Types of gingivostomatitis in cats
Depending on the affected area or areas of the animal’s oral cavity, we distinguish several types of gingivostomatitis in cats:
- Caudal stomatitis: affects the deepest part of the mouth and the palate.
- Alveolar stomatitis: it focuses on the gum area that surrounds the teeth. It is the most common.
- Lip / oral stomatitis: inflammation of the lips and the inner part of the cheeks. It usually occurs in more severe cases.
- Glossitis: inflammation or ulceration of the tongue.
Factors Involved and Predisposing to Gingivitis in Cats
There is no single cause of gingivostomatitis, but the key is believed to be an alteration of the feline’s oral immune system that overreacts to one or more chronic stimuli, such as:
- Bacterial plaque or tartar.
- Dental diseases: periodontal disease, feline odontoclastic resorption (progressive disappearance of dental tissue).
- Reaction to some dietary proteins.
- Viral infections: feline calicivirus, FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus), FeLV (feline leukemia virus).
In addition, stress can play an essential role in altering the immune system, worsening the symptoms of gingivitis or stomatitis in the cat. Certain diseases such as chronic kidney failure, or some oral tumors, produce similar lesions in the oral mucosa that should not be confused with chronic gingivostomatitis. That is why it is essential to go to the vet to diagnose our pet accurately.
Symptoms of feline chronic gingivitis: how to detect it
If you have noticed for a while that your cat has discomfort in the mouth and has lost its appetite and even weight, you may suspect that something may happen to it. Well, you should know that cats with feline chronic gingivostomatitis (GECF) manifest symptoms related to inflammation and pain in the mouth that can help you identify and detect if your pet suffers from it, such as:
- Redness or ulceration of the gums and mouth.
- Decreased appetite.
- Repetitive movements with the mouth or tongue.
- Scratching of the face.
- Excessive salivation
- Bad breath.
- Oral bleeding
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
Monitoring the cat at home: how to know if it is getting worse
Some cats can instinctively hide their discomfort, especially if the clinical picture is mild. Still, we can suspect that our pet is affected by gingivitis or chronic stomatitis if it decreases its appetite or changes its behavior, hiding more than usual or rejecting contact.
If our cat allows us, we can check if it manifests pain when palpating the jaw or presenting redness of the gums. To facilitate the detection of changes indicative of worsening of the GECF, there are tables and questionnaires to evaluate weekly the appearance of symptoms, appetite, and degree of comfort of the feline, giving it to our veterinarian in each periodic review to adjust the corresponding treatment.
GECF diagnosis at the veterinarian
Suppose we notice symptoms compatible with GECF in our cat. In that case, we must go to the veterinary office to check if it suffers from the disease and determine the original cause or the factors that predispose it to suffer from it. To this end, the specialist will perform one or more of the following tests:
- Complete general examination, especially the oral cavity, to detect weight changes, symptoms related to viral or metabolic diseases, and the number and severity of oral lesions.
- Tests for detecting viruses (calicivirus, FeLV, FIV): using blood extraction or taking samples with a swab from the oral cavity, the presence of these viruses can be detected by the PCR technique, the most reliable.
- Blood and urine tests: to rule out systemic diseases such as kidney failure, which causes oral lesions similar to GECF.
- Dental X-ray: allows the observation of lesions compatible with feline odontoclastic spring disease or infection.
- Biopsy: helpful if oral malignancies, such as squamous cell carcinoma or lymphoma, are suspected.