Symptoms of Oral Ulcers in Cats

Oral ulcers in cats occur on the mouth and gums and can cause painful inflammation. Oral ulcers are usually the result of either caudal stomatitis or gingivostomatitis. Vets don't know what causes these conditions, but they believe that purebred cats are more susceptible to them.

Causes of Mouth Ulcers in Cats

Vets don't know exactly what causes most cat mouth ulcers. However, they believe that feline oral ulcers might be the result of an immune reaction to the presence of bacteria or viruses in the body. Feline calicivirus, which also causes upper respiratory infection or cat flu, has been blamed for the presence of mouth ulcers in some cats. Some cats, it's believed, may simply suffer from an autoimmune sensitivity to plaque.

Some cats develop oral ulcers at a very young age, between three and five months. Others develop this condition later in life. Siamese cats appear to be particularly vulnerable to oral ulcers, though it's common in all breeds of domestic shorthair cats. Cats with suppressed immune systems are also more vulnerable to mouth ulcers.

Types of Feline Mouth Ulcers and Their Symptoms

Gingivostomatitis causes general ulceration and inflammation of the gums and tissues inside the mouth, while caudal stomatitis is the term used to refer to a single and specific ulcerated site within the mouth. Both types of ulcers can cause excessive drooling, difficult swallowing and halitosis (bad breath). Your cat may lose his appetite, or find eating too painful to manage, and experience anorexia. As a result, your cat could suffer weight loss and nutritional deficiency, the first symptom of which is a dull, unhealthy coat.

Diagnosing Mouth Ulcers in Cats

Your vet can diagnose the presence of oral ulcers via an oral examination. Your vet may use X-rays to determine the extent of the damage to the structures of your cat's jaw. Your vet may also perform blood and urine tests to determine the cause of your cat's oral ulcers.

Treating Oral Ulcers in Cats

Your vet will treat oral ulcers in cats by first administering a thorough veterinary dental cleaning. Any teeth that have been damaged may need to be pulled. Most vets will recommend tooth extraction as part of the treatment for oral ulcers in cats.

In most cases, removing all of the damaged teeth allows feline mouth ulcers to heal completely. In some cases, where healthy teeth are left behind, oral ulcers recur and the rest of the teeth must be pulled. If all of your cat's teeth are pulled, he should no longer experience mouth ulcers.

It's difficult to treat feline oral ulcers without tooth extraction. Veterinary dental cleanings must be performed every six months, and you must brush your cat's teeth every day at home. Your cat will need to eat a balanced, healthy diet and may need nutritional supplements. He may also need to take antibiotics when secondary infections set in.

All things considered, if your cat develops mouth ulcers, pulling all damaged teeth is the best option. If your cat has remaining teeth, continue to observe him closely for signs that new ulcers have formed.