Can’t save cats’ teeth if they have this disease

Dr. Jeff NicholQ: Is my cat’s plasma cell stomatitis contagious? Can it be passed from a cat to a human?

Dr. Nichol: Mouth pain, swelling of the gums, reduced appetite and excessive salivation – it’s miserable.

What we now call chronic oral inflammatory disease can go on for a lifetime. There are lots of possible causes, including an immune reaction to dental plaque, an upper respiratory infection called calicivirus, and feline AIDS. Behavioral stress may be a factor for some. It’s complicated.

Erosive damage (resorptive lesions) of the teeth, chronic gingivitis and smoldering bacterial infection can stir this pot but despite a whole lot of study, the quest for a specific cause has been unrewarding. No medication has truly helped. Siamese and Persian cats may have more severe disease than others.

There is only one reliable approach: full mouth dental X-rays to determine the extent of the disease followed by removal of every tooth. This sounds drastic, and it is, but attempts to avoid full extractions, with medications and other treatments, have only delayed the inevitable: all teeth must go.

Teeth are rather important, aren’t they? My cats and I want to keep ours. So, if some teeth appear to be OK, why not leave them and only remove the others? This strategy resulted in improvement for only 20% of cats in one study. They still needed long-term medication to control pain and inflammation. But when all teeth were extracted, 75-90% of cats were cured, going on to enjoy excellent pain-free lives. They felt great, ate fine and maintained a healthy weight. Eliminating a constant ache is among the most important priorities in our work. We need to do whatever it takes.

Regarding the risk to humans of this feline disease: I have found no evidence to suggest a connection. Chronic oral inflammatory disease of cats is only known to occur in cats. I’ve treated a whole lot of well-loved kitties who’ve suffered with this. I have never enjoyed the tedium of sacrificing every tooth but they feel much better in the end. I am thankful that we can cure so many – and that this is not a human disease.

Dr. Jeff Nichol, a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist, provides consultations in-person and by telephone and Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.

 

Share Your Story

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Fear and pain are real, but are not a ...
Fetch!
Sometimes, we just have to have ... Sometimes, we just have to have faith that things will work out
2
'No Name,' later dubbed 'Faith' had close call on ...
Fetch!
Editor's note: This is the second ... Editor's note: This is the second in a four-part series The injured homeless cat, we later named Faith, had already became special to us. ...
3
Badly injured homeless kitty got care, brought faith
Fetch!
Faith was important not just because ... Faith was important not just because we loved her but because she taught important lessons. She has ...
4
'Back to normal' boosts pandemic pup costs
Fetch!
Some 23 million US households have ... Some 23 million US households have acquired a pet
5
Dazzling dog destination
Fetch!
New pet resort will treat your ... New pet resort will treat your pup like royalty
6
Study: Pets can catch COVID from their people
Fetch!
We can help protect them by ... We can help protect them by getting vaccinated ourselves
7
Free music returns to the Plaza, other venues
Entertainment
AMP Concerts' series opens this week ... AMP Concerts' series opens this week in Santa Fe
8
Keeping our fur kids calm on the Fourth
Fetch!
Prescription Sileo gel works well, with ... Prescription Sileo gel works well, with no sedation or side-effects
9
Healing trauma and feline politics
Fetch!
A reliable plan helped heal the ... A reliable plan helped heal the rift between a resident cat and a pair of kittens recovering from injuries