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What are Mouth Inflammation and Ulcers?

Mouth inflammation and ulcers in cats is termed feline stomatitis, characterized by gradually worsened inflammation of the oral mucosal tissues. Feline stomatitis etiology is assumed to be an immune-mediated disease caused by dental disease and viral infections, such as feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus. Mouth inflammation and ulcers only affect about 3 percent of the feline population with purebred cats being the majority of those affected. Feline stomatitis, although rare, is a very serious and painful disease for cats that can eventual becoming life-threatening if it is left untreated. 

Mouth inflammation and ulcers in cats create an extremely painful condition. A cat with this condition may have a difficult time eating or drinking, may have bad breath, drool, and paw at her face. Mouth inflammation often causes a cat’s mouth to develop ulcers on the back throat, gums, tongue or lips, which may even prevent the cat from opening her mouth. Mouth inflammation and ulcers are not linked to a single underlying cause, but dental disease is believed to be the main culprit. Mouth inflammation and ulcers in its early stages resembles dental disease, plus it can be highly contagious, making an appointment with the veterinarian essential. 

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Symptoms of Mouth Inflammation and Ulcers in Cats

Mouth inflammation and ulcers in cats is one of the very few conditions that will cause a feline to show obvious signs of pain. It is in a cat’s nature to not freely express pain, but feline stomatitis is so painful cats often cry out in pain with a simply yawn. Cat owners also report a type of behavior veterinarians call, “approach-avoidance.” This behavioral term is used to describe a cat who hungrily approaches her food, only to hiss at her bowl and run away. Approach-avoidance behavior is a symptom that develops over time as the feline anticipates the consumption of food to be painful.Behavioral changes may be the first signs of feline stomatitis a cat owner notices, as inflammation and ulcers in the mouth are not easily seen. The following additional symptoms may also be noted in a cat with mouth inflammation and ulcers: 

  • Severe pain
  • Vocalization or crying out upon the opening of the mouth
  • Dropping food while eating
  • Refusal to eat or drink
  • Facial pawing
  • Weight loss
  • Halitosis (bad breath) 
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • Ptyalism (hypersalivation, drooling)
  • Poor hair coat
  • Red, swollen gums and/or mouth
  • Ulcers or lesions 
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Causes of Mouth Inflammation and Ulcers in Cats

The exact cause of mouth inflammation and ulcers in cats is unclear, but what is clear is that the condition appears to be immune-mediated. In other words, feline stomatitis is believed to be an overreaction of the immune system, causing the feline’s own immune system to attack bacteria in the mouth as well as its oral tissues. The immune system is triggered by plaque in the mouth, making feline dental disease the prime suspected cause. Mouth inflammation and ulcers in cats can be caused by dental disease, but also infection and viruses, including: 

  • Periodontal disease
  • Bartonellosis
  • Feline calicivirus (FCV)
  • Feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1)
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
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Diagnosis of Mouth Inflammation and Ulcers in Cats

Diagnosis of mouth inflammation and ulcers in cats begins with an examination of your cat’s medical history, including dental records and procedures to rule out standard conditions of the teeth. A physical examination of the mouth will be completed in order to evaluate the level of ulceration. Sedation may be needed during a physical examination to allow the veterinarian to open the feline’s mouth. A visual identification of mucosal inflammation and ulcers will give the veterinarian a diagnosis, but to determine the cause, further testing will be made including: 

  • Systemic disease evaluation (detection of organ disease)
  • Virus isolation test (detection of virus)
  • Retroviral test (detection of immune-related virus)
  • Histopathological evaluation (detection of oral disorders)
  • Biopsy (detection of oral neoplasia) 
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Treatment of Mouth Inflammation and Ulcers in Cats

Treatment of mouth inflammation and ulcers in cats initially begins with pain control and anti-inflammatory medication. Feline stomatitis is an overreaction of the immune system, so your veterinarian may prescribe a steroid or immunosuppressant drug to suppress the immune system, and suppress the disease. Although effective, treating feline stomatitis with therapeutic drugs is only temporary, therefore, many veterinarians suggest total dental extractions. 

Plaque is the known trigger of feline stomatitis. Plaque is a bacteria that only remains in the mouth when it adheres to the teeth. Therefore, a total dental extraction of your cat’s teeth is the only potential cure of feline stomatitis. Unfortunately, a total dental extraction is costly, drastic and in the end, may not cure your cat’s stomatitis. 

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Recovery of Mouth Inflammation and Ulcers in Cats

The refractory treatment of mouth inflammation and ulcers in cats makes recovery as well as management of the condition frustrating to both parties. Pain management will be continuous for cats with feline stomatitis to improve the quality of their life. A soft food diet will be required for cats who have undergone total dental extractions and routine dental cleanings may be required of those who have not. 

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Mouth Inflammation and Ulcers Average Cost

From 455 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$850

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Mouth Inflammation and Ulcers Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Ask a Vet

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cat

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Amoxicillin, cat Gruel, aloe Vera liquid and Feline upper respiratory medicine that looks like nitroglycerin we were told not to touch

Jan. 14, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Hello, this may be infectious. It would be best for you to keep this cat away from the other.

Jan. 14, 2021

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Tabby Cat

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Sixteen Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bad Breath

A few months ago, my cat started pawing at her mouth aggressively after she would eat or drink. Now, she will do this more often and she will paw at her mouth for longer than before. Also, her breath stinks now and her coat is all matted now as well. Oh and either her nose is running or she is drooling out of her mouth. I can’t tell if the stuff is coming from her nose or her mouth. Do you know what could be wrong with her? Would it be worth trying to fix her problem or not since she’s 16 years old?

Dec. 21, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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4 Recommendations

Hi there. I'm sorry to hear this. She likely has dental disease and may also have an abscess. Other possibilities include ulcers and/or a mass. Absolutely, this is something we can help her with. We would usually prescribe antibiotics and pain relief and she may require a dental. If you have had tooth ache yourself, you will appreciate that treating it is really essential ! All the best, Dr Linda.

Dec. 21, 2020

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domestic long hair

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two years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Mouth Ulcer And Itchy

My cat has mouth ulcer that keeps coming back. She is also very itchy and will not stop locking herself.

Dec. 16, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello I'm sorry to see that your cat is not feeling the best. She may have skin allergies or a condition called eosinophilic complex which is kind of like an immune-mediated disease. Sometimes antibiotics and steroids are recommended. I advise that you take your kitty in to see a veterinarian for an exam soon. Good luck.

Dec. 16, 2020

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cat

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Four Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Mouth

Hi my 4 month old kittens mouth/face just became swollen over the last few hours but mostly in the right side and has a slimy feel on the outside. She is acting very strange and stand off and when I try to feed her she won’t open her mouth. Also why I try to touch and open her mouth she cries. I’m not sure if I should immediately take her to the vet now or wait until the morning

Nov. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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0 Recommendations

Hi there, I would bring her to the vet right away if you can. Tjks is because, whatever is going on, she would likely benefit from some pain relief. There are a few possibilities here including am abscess, allergic reaction, bite or string from an animal etc

Nov. 2, 2020

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Domestic cat

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

Swollen lips Swollen cheeks Hard swollen chin / jawline

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is okay. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment that might be needed.

Oct. 24, 2020

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Kiki

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Indie

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8 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Excessive Drooling
Excessive Drooling Lesion On Tongue

I have 3 female cats who were recently sterilised. Came back normal but one,Tofu,who was taking time to recover and one day started drooling, and showing difficulty to eat. On advice of the vet I administered 2ml of azithral 200mg and it immediately showed results. Course is yet to finish. However one of the other healthier cats started showing the same symptoms but with mouth ulcers/lesions. Kiki isn't eating and drooling excessively. Inappetence is obvious. The vet suggested the same dosage. She went missing on the first day when she showed symptoms and luckily after catching her the next day I administered her with 2ml of azithral 200, but she vomitted about 40 minutes after that and is yet to show any improvement. She is trying to drink water every once in a while but mostly sleeping. In India vet related issues are yet to find good consultations and diagnosis, especially if you're not loaded enough to spend big-bucks, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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Muji

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Exotic Shorthair

dog-age-icon

10 Months

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Lesion
Bad Appetite
Ulcer At The Back Of Lips

My 10-month-old cat has a small ulcer at the back of his lip. Other than that, his appetite is not as good as before. He did his health exam 2 months ago and everything was great except there was a small lesion at his lip and the vet said it was probably because he bit something and that it would heal; however, that lesion is still there. I'm not sure if that lesion was an early indication of his dental problem which might have caused the ulcer now. In addition, he recently has a pretty bad hair loss condition but it's getting better as I started feeding him salmon oil daily. Because the ulcer condition is mild as of now and he's still pretty lively, it'd be great if I could find the right treatment for him without taking him to the vet. Does someone know what kind of ointment/meds I should get for my cat? Much appreciated!

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Angel

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Medium hair grey kitty

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7 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Refusal To Eat
Bad Breath,
Sticky Drool
Unkept Fur

My cat currently has mouth ulcers and I just took her to the vet today so I don’t have much to say about the healing process but I wanted to offer some support to anyone who sees some of the experiences and gets scared and overwhelmed because not all experiences are so bad! My cat did not have the FV disease, its not a definite long term thing! They were caused by a house plant, and her vet says they should heal in less than two weeks and they should never come back. I only spent about $225 for our vet visit, and that includes testing for the chronic disease and also take home medicine, which I do have to give her orally twice a day. She was back to eating by the end of the day, I had to help her a bit but Im glad shes improving immensely. But overall, this is not something to get too worried about, just see your vet as soon as possible!

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mia

dog-breed-icon

Snowshoe

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Paws Atmouth, Salvates, Lic
Mouth, Salvates, Lic
Mouth, Salvates, Licki
Mouth Salvates, Licking

out of nowhere, my cat started licking kinda funny and pawing at the side ofher mouth after eating. she is an 11.5 yr old snowshoe and or ragdoll with siamese colors. really beautiful. i then noticed black flaky stuff stuck all around her mouth. not blood (not reddish), not flea dirt and not black acne..... vet didn't know what black stuff was...wanted to do blood test and dental work after. i think my cat needed an antibiotic but vet wouldnt give until blood results. hi thyroid count came back. dr gave thyroid pills. 2x a day & a pill for antibiotic. vet said she had to treat thyroid b4 dental work. cat was barely eating the crunchies she ate for 11 years. i went to a different vet as she had so much black junk on lips and salvated all over. new guy found abcess in mouth, gave antibiotics shot and i found she'll eat turkey breast. won't touch crunchy food anymore. been two weeks since. does not seem to be in pain but she's not right. she stopped cleaning herself so i do it. i clean her mouth with mild cleanser every two days and she's a little better. not salvating excessively and black smutz is almost gone. only eats turkey n water but will see if she gets better.

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Blossom

dog-breed-icon

Siamese

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Weight Loss
Poor Appetite
Salivation
Depressed
Hard To Eat
Harmful
Dont Want Us To Touch Her

Her ears becomes red, when she want to drink, it looks hurtful. She doesn't want to eat and she just sit. Her saliva looks sticky and causes her side mouth becomes dirty (black) i gave her some medicine from the vet for 2 days now and she now can walk and try to drink or lick water. I saw ulcers around one of her teeth, it is white yellowish.

Mouth Inflammation and Ulcers Average Cost

From 455 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$850

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