Feline gingivitis/stomatitis is defined as inflammation of the gums and oral cavity commonly seen in many cats. While there can be specific causes of this chronic and frustrating inflammation such as viral infection with feline herpes virus (rhinotracheitis), calicivirus (FCV), feline leukemia virus and/or feline immunodeficiency virus, most of the time no specific causative agents can be found, placing the cause as ideopathic/immune mediated, which means that the cat’s immune system is attacking its own gums for unknown reasons.
While secondary bacterial overgrowth with bacteria such as Bartonella and many others can occur, these bacteria are rarely the primary cause of a cat’s red and inflamed gums. Symptoms include the appearance of a red line or swelling around the tooth line, which can progress up the gums, and/or to the rest of the oral cavity and tongue. Heavy and often offensive salivation and drooling, difficulty and painful eating, as well as quivering jaws on manipulation on touch can all be seen to varying degrees. The inflammation often extends to the root of the teeth leading to progressive dental decay and bone loss of the underlying jaw.
Various prescription antibiotics such as Metronidazole, Clindamycin, Antirobe and/or Doxycycline can help many cats with controlling overgrowth of bacteria, and periodic ultrasonic dental scaling can help but the condition often recurs. Due to the immune nature of this condition, many veterinarians will often prescribe cortisone and other immune suppressive medications. However, these drugs usually don’t have long lasting beneficial effects. Ultimately the only therapeutic option that often works is extraction of especially the back teeth, but sometimes entire mouth teeth extractions are needed to lessen the inflammation. Even when this procedure is needed, results are still not guaranteed. Feeding cat species appropriate diets, including canned food and/or properly balanced meat based homemade diets can be helpful before severe inflammation takes hold.
In my opinion giving cats raw meaty bones such as chicken wings help to sometimes remove plaque and clean the gums better than any commercial products. Natural products like Fidodent by Animal Essentials and Vetz Life Oral Care spray or gel can help in some cases. I’ve seen some cases respond to classic homeopathic treatment by trained veterinarians when patiently treated and evaluated over time.
Animal guardians can learn more about homeopathic treatment options at www.theAVH.org. No matter which approach is chosen, treatment of feline gingivitis/stomatitis is never easy, and will require long term commitment and patience on both feline guardian and veterinarian’s part.