Cat Plasma Cell Stomatitus
Veterinarian Reviewed on January 5, 2008 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Plasma cell stomatitus is an oral disease that is very painful for a cat, and will influence its ability to eat normally. It is usually seen in older cats, and is thought to be resulted from a malfunctioning immune system that reacts against plaque or the tooth itself; however, the exact cause of this disease is still unknown. Plasma cell stomatitus is often associated with feline immunodeficiency virus, and calicvirus. The condition is chronic and can be difficult to treat. Since the exact cause is not known, prevention is not easy; nevertheless, good oral hygiene is always a crucial part of an animal’s overall health, and can certainly help reduce the chance of plasma cell stomatitus by removing excess plaque that may cause problems later on in life.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Cats affected by plasma cell stomatitus have red, inflamed gums that may bleed at touch. Excessively foul breath, inability to eat, and drooling are some other symptoms associated with this painful disease. The areas most frequently affected are in the back of the mouth, and the irritated gums may appear swollen and have proliferations growing outwards.
Diagnosis may be possible through a physical examination, but an oral biopsy is needed to confirm the presence of plasma cell stomatitus, since other illnesses might cause oral ulcerations that are similar in appearance.
The pain and inflammation can be relived by medications such as prednisone. Oral administration of the medicine may be difficult due to the painful mouth, in which case the medicine can be injected. Antibiotics are also often prescribed to decrease the chance of secondary bacterial infections. Fentanyl patches can be used for pain control during a particularly severe episode; the patch is applied to the back of a foot and can provide long-acting pain relief.
After the pain and inflammation are controlled, it is important to have the animal’s teeth cleaned regularly to avoid further plaque build-up, which can lead to future episodes of painful flare-up. Immune system modulators such as interferon may also help regulate the condition, since it is basically an excessive immune reaction. In more serious cases, bovine lactoferrin and other stronger immunosuppressive medications can be used. The animal is usually required to remain on these medications long term to manage this disease and prevent recurrence of inflammation.
If all medical treatments have failed to keep the disease in check, the affected teeth must be extracted. In many cases full mouth extractions are needed. Since cats do not chew their food a lot to begin with, a cat with all its teeth extracted generally adapt really well and will be able to live a normal life.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan