Does my cat have stomatitis?
April 29, 2012 7:26 PM   Subscribe

Does my cat have stomatitis?

Our 1.5 year old kitten has been having problems eating his dry food the past month. We've noticed he makes these weird noises and a kibble will pop out of his mouth, he'll try to eat it again and make another noise. He'll take food to another part of the room and try it again. He's basically in pain when he eats his dry. His wet is fine. His breath also smells like rotten fish. His energy seems okay, and he isn't losing weight. He does seem a little bit slimmer than last year, but could be just more active.

We took him to a vet who noticed a fissure wound on each corner of his mouth. They look like big papercuts. He also has this weird little growth on his lower gum. She's not sure what that is, but thinks it may be a wart or something formed by chewing so much on one side of his mouth, etc. Perhaps like how you bite an inside part of your mouth repeatedly. He tested negative for FLV. The vet thinks this might be stomatitis, which her own kitten had. She recommended removing all his teeth and aside from this sounding super drastic to us, it's not cheap ($800-$1,000). Of course we'd do it if we were certain this is what we're dealing with (as it sounds like the only thing that will help a cat with stomatitis). We're not sure if we should get a second opinion. The vet even noted his teeth look good aside from a bit of gingivitis, but certainly not angry, bleeding, inflamed, etc. gums like I've seen online.

Has anyone else had a cat with these specific symptoms and does it sound like stomatitis?
posted by branparsons to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am not familiar with this at all, but puling all a cat's teeth seems drastic to me. I would get a second opinion.

Can you stop feeding it dry food and just feed your cat wet food?
posted by katinka-katinka at 7:31 PM on April 29, 2012

I don't know the answer, medically speaking, but if any vet proposed pulling out all of my cat's healthy-looking teeth I'd definitely, positively be looking for a second (and maybe third or fourth) opinion.

I'm especially concerned because your cat is so very young. At age 1.5 - your cat most likely has many, many years left to live, and doing it without teeth is going to be a big project for him, and for you, too. So please don't move forward without a lot more information.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:39 PM on April 29, 2012

Best answer: If he truly has stomatitis removing the teeth isn't drastic, but is is generally considered to be the last resort. Some cats respond really well to a medication for the disease. Ours did not (she was allergic to that, too!) so we had her teeth removed in 2009, when she was about 14. She's still going strong and actually put on weight after she recovered from the surgery.

Our vet cleaned our cat's teeth first, to get a much better look at them. She also took a biopsy to see if the cause of the problem was due to something else. We were really worried about her ability to eat after we finally decided to pursue to surgery but it turns out cats don't really chew all that much. If you see the products of a vomit that occurs right after a cat has eaten dry food, it mostly consists of fully intact kibble. And they don't chew wet food at all.

All cats should have regular dental cleaning in any case. It might turn out that your kitty just needs a cleaning.

It kind of sounds like stomatitis but I'd really recommend getting a second opinion. It'll make you feel better if you do end up having to go for the surgery.

p.s. Since you've only had your kitty for a year and a half, I'll assume you just don't know that we can't possibly know if we're giving you the right answer without a picture of your little guy.
posted by cooker girl at 7:46 PM on April 29, 2012 [2 favorites]



First of all, I don't know where you are, but you should call The Tribeca Soho Animal Hospital for a GOOD recommendation to a vet in your area - I used to be a patient and when I moved across the country, that is who I called.

Coincidentally, my vet now is not affiliated with them, but he is just like them (and not coincidentally!) knew of them and was TOTALLY impressed they were my vet way back when.

His name is Dr. Robert Goldman at VCA Petville in Mar Vista, CA. His number is here.

If you feel funny about cold-calling either, just memail me, I'll do it.


Long story short, I know lots of lovely people who are vets who are absolute shite at their jobs. Oh my.

You need a GOOD vet.

Right now, you do not have one.


BTW, in your position, I would feed my kitty wet food and see if the problem doesn't clear up, although I bet there are additional non-invasive therapies to go along with that to help your cat's mouth heal.


I've had lots of vets over the years, some that were friends or friends-of-friends. Exceptional care IS out there, you just gotta put a little effort in. Even if the result is the same (your case sounds mild for such a drastic procedure at this point) you must seek alternative advice.

Best to you.
posted by jbenben at 8:09 PM on April 29, 2012

Best answer: IANYV. This is not medical advice.

So much going on here that there is no way to give you an answer. Truly, the only answer is to take your cat to get a really good second opinion. If there is a vet school around you, go there. Those sores and the possible weight loss at that age are certainly causes for concern.

Also, $800 to pull a full mouth of teeth is almost too cheap. So much so that I would be concerned about their standards.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 8:27 PM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Can you feed him all wet while you're waiting for a second opinion? Dry could just not work for him. Dry food is actually bad for cats anyway--it's higher in carbs (cats are carnivores and should only be getting protein + fat), in the wild cats get moisture from food and don't really have a thirst center, so feeding them dry food isn't great for hydration, and because they don't chew dry food bits can get stuck in their teeth and cause dental problems.
posted by Anonymous at 9:42 PM on April 29, 2012

I agree with the others that you need to get a second opinion but if it really does come down to your cat having to have his teeth removed, he will live a normal life. One of my good friends had a cat with no teeth and it didn't hinder him at all. Cats don't really chew their food like we do. In fact, when given the choice, my friend's cat always chose the dry food over wet. They have different digestive systems and the food just has to be small enough for them to swallow. The only issue is that he would sometimes drool if you got to scratching him real good because his teeth weren't there to control saliva flow...but I thought that was one of his endearing qualities.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:57 PM on April 29, 2012

Best answer: I'd definitely get a second or even third opinion. My cat's stomatis is some of worst my vets have seen, and it got so bad that it ate into her sinus cavity and caused a weird growth -- to the point where 3 out of 3 vets actually said it was almost certainly cancer. I refused to let them biopsy (hugely invasive, expensive, and wouldn't have changed the outcome -- it wouldn't have been a treatable cancer.) When it didn't get any worse, we (myself and 2nd-opinion vet, one who only deals with cats) finally decided it was worth it to remove all the teeth (also pointless if it was cancer).

Long story short -- I now have a healthy, happy, normal yet toothless cat who eats everything (dry included) but I wouldn't have gotten here without the many opinions sought. It's a pretty painful procedure, but if it is necessary, can drastically improve your cats quality of life. My vet warned me that the biggest side effect would be my cat would gain weight from eating too much, and she's right :) But I'll agree upthread that $800 seems cheap. I paid double that, and can't even get anesthesia for less than $500.

So I'd definitly recommend getting the second opinion, on all accounts.
posted by cgg at 10:57 PM on April 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, this has been very enlightening!! Thank you all for your input :) I'll definitely get another opinion... Even if he needs the surgery, at least I'll know that we've gotten many opinions to get there. The vet did mention that we could possibly just do steroid shots for a while, if he responds well, and see how he goes. Is that the medication, cooker girl?

Ah yes, I do have a picture! Not a great photo, but:

I should add that we actually took him to the vet before this (now that I do the math, it's been more like nearly two months he's had this problem) and the vet did the FLV test and had no idea what was going on. He got the steroid shot and seemed to be better, so we thought he'd maybe injured his mouth on a toy (threw out suspected toy) and was now healing. This past week he's having difficulty again, so it's definitely something chronic.

We've also been feeding him mostly wet lately, for sure. We just felt that if we only fed him that for the rest of his life, we'd still be ignoring an issue that hadn't been there previously. He's never had a problem until now.

jbenben - We live up in Canada, but thanks for the vet contact and offer!

cgg - The vet did sound say the cat would be very happy afterwards, as her kitten was, and could probably eat small kibble still.
posted by branparsons at 11:25 PM on April 29, 2012

Response by poster: I don't know how to edit my post -- I meant to say a different vet didn't know what was going on and did the FLV test. Not this current one.
posted by branparsons at 11:28 PM on April 29, 2012

There are vets that do nothing but teeth, and I know this because my cat has a specialty dentist.

I know. Crazy cat lady here.

This is my crazy cat dentist. I would think they would be able to direct you to someone reputable in your area or to a service to help you find that person. Please find another vet. My cat had terrible breath and tooth resorption, and has had to have a few teeth out, but he's healthy and happy now.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:47 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am not a vet. This is not veterinary medical advice.

I'm at veterinary technology student who just finished up their dental rotation. Full mouth extraction is usually the surgical treatment of choice for advanced stomatitis. Some vets in my area have been trying laser therapy.

We're not sure if we should get a second opinion.
Always get a second opinion. Preferably from a veterinary dental specialist.

Has anyone else had a cat with these specific symptoms and does it sound like stomatitis?
This is really one of those things were you can't trust an internet diagnosis or anecdata.

Also, $800 to pull a full mouth of teeth is almost too cheap. So much so that I would be concerned about their standards.
Veterinary care is pretty expensive where I'm located. I just had to have two extractions on my dog an it cost $789. I've lived elsewhere and have recieved excellent veterinary care for much lower costs than where I'm currently located. But $800 does sound strangely cheap.

I adopted a toothless cat from the local shelter several years ago and he eats fine and is a happy kitty.

Best to you and your cat. Second opinion! Not internet diagnosis!
posted by OsoMeaty at 6:17 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

When our client's refused full mouth extraction the vet I worked with would treat with prednisolone one a month or on as needed basis.
posted by OsoMeaty at 6:24 AM on April 30, 2012

No, steroids weren't the medication that Katie is allergic to. It's some sort of dairy-derived thing. She responded well to steroids but only for so long; too long on them and liver damage occurs.

Glad you're getting a second opinion! Good luck, and if you need any more stomatitis advice/anecdotes, please feel free to memail me.
posted by cooker girl at 12:03 PM on April 30, 2012

I'm glad you're getting a second opinion as well!

That said, if you do reach the point where other treatments aren't working, the extraction route doesn't have to be as terrible as you might think. Two of mine have stomatitis - one's had to have just a few teeth out and mostly does fine with rare flare-ups, but the other didn't respond well to any treatment, couldn't eat and lost a terrifying amount of wait, would growl in pain when she tried to eat, and it was awful. Most of her teeth came out as a last resort and after a couple of days of cranky recuperation, it's like we got a whole new cat back. She's healthy and happy, eats dry and wet food no problem, is a normal weight again, and I have no regrets at all about going that route with her.
posted by Stacey at 4:39 PM on April 30, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks again guys!

OsoMeaty - I definitely wouldn't want the Internet to diagnose my kitty, but was feeling overwhelmed with the vet's assessment and hoping to hear someone else's experience regarding a situation like this (maybe someone to say, 'we went through that - that's probably not what it is!', I guess for some reassurance). I didn't think of a veterinary dental specialist though and found one in my area! Thanks so much for that!

Cooker girl - Good point on the steroids... I didn't even think that it might cause any long term damage! May contact you soon for anecdotes, thanks!

Stacey - That's reassuring to hear... I felt like it sounded so unnatural and cruel to the cat, I can see that, if necessary, it will give me a happy cat. He's definitely been moody the past day, moaned while eating dinner and hissed even when my brother in law went to pet him (never does this!) I feel so bad for him.
posted by branparsons at 6:11 PM on May 2, 2012

Response by poster: (Dinner was wet food even!!)
posted by branparsons at 6:12 PM on May 2, 2012

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