Heal Your Cat’s Stomatitis in 3 Steps

What is Stomatitis in Cats?

Stomatitis is a condition characterized by inflammation and ulcers in a cat’s mouth, including the gums, tongue, lips, and throat (Source). It is a complex, painful disease that causes severe inflammation of the entire oral cavity. The clinical signs of stomatitis include:

  • Drooling
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty eating
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Oral lesions
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Excessive licking and pawing at the mouth

The underlying causes of stomatitis are not fully understood, but it is believed to involve an abnormal immune response to plaque, bacteria, and other antigens in the mouth. It is also associated with feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus. The disease can range from mild inflammation to severe ulceration that affects the entire oral cavity (Source).

Diagnosing Stomatitis

Diagnosing stomatitis in cats typically requires sedation or general anesthesia so the veterinarian can thoroughly examine the mouth. The veterinarian will perform a complete oral exam to check for inflammation, ulcers, and calicivirus lesions which are characteristic of stomatitis. They will grade the severity of the disease based on the extent of inflammation.

The vet may also recommend blood work to check for underlying conditions like kidney disease, diabetes, or calicivirus. Bloodwork can help rule out other causes of oral pain.

Biopsies of the gums and back of the mouth are often needed to confirm stomatitis and rule out cancer. Multiple biopsies are taken and examined under a microscope for inflammation and infection.

According to veterinary experts, “Diagnosing stomatitis requires a complete oral exam, dental radiographs, blood work, and multiple biopsies” (https://www.livermorefamilypet.com/services/blog/what-pain-mouth-stomatitis-cats). The combination of a thorough oral exam, blood work, and biopsies are required for an accurate stomatitis diagnosis.

Treatment Options

Treatment for stomatitis in cats typically involves medications to reduce inflammation and fight infection, pain relief, and sometimes dental surgery. Common treatments include:


Corticosteroids like prednisolone are commonly prescribed to reduce inflammation and suppress the cat’s overactive immune response. According to BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, steroids help control pain and swelling but do not address the underlying cause.


Antibiotics may be used to treat secondary infections. However, antibiotics alone are not an effective long-term treatment for stomatitis according to VCA Animal Hospitals.

Pain Medication

Pain relievers like buprenorphine are commonly prescribed to keep cats comfortable. Cats with stomatitis are often in significant pain and may stop eating due to mouth pain.

Tooth Extraction

In severe cases, full mouth tooth extraction may be recommended. Removing all teeth eliminates dental plaque and tartar that trigger inflammation. According to VCA, extracting all teeth results in improvement or complete remission in approximately 75% of cats.

Home Care

Caring for a cat with stomatitis at home involves making some changes to support your cat’s comfort. Since eating is painful, providing soft foods that are easy to swallow is important. Cats with stomatitis often have a reduced appetite, so feeding smaller, more frequent meals can help ensure they are getting adequate nutrition. According to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, you can try making small ice cubes for your cat with canned food or with pieces of kibble in water to encourage them to chew the ice.

Increasing water intake is also recommended to support oral health. Using a fountain style water dish can encourage drinking. Brushing your cat’s teeth daily with a soft toothbrush and cat-safe toothpaste helps keep their mouth clean. Avoid using plastic dishes and canned foods with fish or seafood, as these can irritate the gums.

Dietary Changes

Making dietary changes is often recommended for cats with stomatitis. Since dry kibble can be rough on sensitive inflamed gums, switching to wet food is typically advised.

Wet or canned cat food has high moisture content which can make it easier for cats to chew and swallow. The soft texture is gentler on painful inflamed gums. According to this source, canned food diets are generally recommended for treating stomatitis. Even pureed or ground canned food may be necessary if the cat is having difficulty eating.

Some vets may suggest transitioning to a raw food diet for cats with stomatitis. Raw diets are thought to be species-appropriate and contain natural enzymes. According to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, raw food diets may help reduce inflammation. However, raw diets should only be fed under veterinary supervision due to potential risks.

Certain supplements may also be beneficial. Probiotics can support good oral bacteria, while omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation. Research indicates diet influences the oral microbiome in cats, so dietary changes and supplements should be considered.


The prognosis for cats with stomatitis is generally manageable but incurable. Stomatitis is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects a cat’s mouth and gums. While treatments like steroids and antibiotics can provide temporary relief of symptoms, stomatitis often recurs in most cats (PetMD).

One of the most effective long-term treatments is full mouth tooth extraction, which removes all of the teeth except the fangs. Studies show that approximately two-thirds of cats who undergo full mouth extractions experience a complete remission of stomatitis symptoms afterwards and require no additional treatment (BluePearl). The other one-third continue to have milder symptoms that can be managed with medications and dietary changes.

While stomatitis cannot be cured, full mouth tooth extraction significantly improves the long-term outlook. Ongoing management of diet, home care, and immune support can help maintain a good quality of life for cats with this chronic condition.


Since the exact cause of stomatitis in cats is unknown, prevention focuses on maintaining good oral health and hygiene to reduce inflammation. Annual professional dental cleanings are recommended to thoroughly clean the teeth and remove built-up tartar and plaque that can irritate the gums (Source).

Brushing your cat’s teeth at home can also help prevent plaque buildup. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and cat-safe toothpaste. Brush gently along the outer surfaces of the teeth daily if your cat will tolerate it. This keeps the teeth clean and reduces bacteria (Source).

Feeding dry food is not recommended, as the hard kibble can scrape against the gums and exacerbate inflammation. Feed a high quality canned or wet food diet instead. The softer food is gentler on inflamed gums (Source).

Coping with Chronic Stomatitis

Cats with chronic stomatitis require lifelong management, so coping with this disease can be challenging for both the cat and its human companion. Regular vet visits are crucial to monitor pain levels, adjust medications as needed, and stay on top of flare ups. Treatment plans often involve a combination of medications, dental extractions, and dietary changes. This requires patience to find the right approach for each individual cat.

Affording the costs of care for chronic stomatitis can also be difficult. Extracting teeth, medications, and special foods add up over time. There are some ways to save money – using online pharmacies for cheaper prescription costs, applying for financial assistance programs, and making homemade food. But extra expenses are the reality of managing stomatitis. Planning ahead and budgeting for these recurring costs is recommended.

While coping with chronic stomatitis has its challenges, the condition can often be well-managed with commitment from the cat owner. Working closely with your vet and being consistent with treatment is key. Patience and adaptability are also important when dealing with ups and downs of this lifelong disease.

Supporting Immune Health

There are several natural ways to help support your cat’s immune system when dealing with stomatitis including probiotics, anti-inflammatory supplements, and reducing stress.

Probiotics can help promote a healthy gut and balanced immune response. Giving your cat a high-quality probiotic supplement or probiotic-rich foods like kefir, yogurt, or fermented fish broth can increase good gut bacteria. This study showed probiotics helped reduce inflammation in cats with stomatitis.

Natural anti-inflammatories may also provide relief from stomatitis inflammation and pain. Supplements like turmeric, omega-3 fatty acids, and reputable anti-inflammatory blends can reduce swelling. Herbs like chamomile, thyme, licorice root, and marshmallow root also have anti-inflammatory properties according to this source. Always consult your vet before giving any supplements.

Since stress can aggravate immune issues, reducing anxiety is key. Using calming pheromones, keeping routines consistent, and allowing cats to engage in natural behaviors like scratching can decrease their stress levels.

When to Seek a Specialist

If your cat’s stomatitis symptoms are severe or fail to improve with at-home treatment, you should seek a specialist’s help. Signs that indicate advanced stomatitis and the need for professional veterinary assessment include:

  • Severe inflammation and redness in the mouth
  • Ulcers and lesions on the gums, tongue, cheeks or palate
  • Excessive drooling or difficulty eating and swallowing
  • Weight loss despite appetite
  • Poor response to antibiotics, steroids or other medication
  • Tooth loss

In advanced cases, a specialist may recommend full mouth tooth extractions to remove the sources of inflammation and allow the gums to heal. Cats with severe stomatitis often improve dramatically after extractions. According to the experts at BluePearl Veterinary Partners, “Full mouth tooth extractions have the highest success rate for treating stomatitis and are considered the ‘gold standard’ of care” (source).

Seeking prompt veterinary attention and specialist care can greatly improve quality of life for cats with stubborn, painful stomatitis. Don’t delay if standard treatments fail to resolve your cat’s oral inflammation and discomfort.

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