Understanding Mouth Ulcers in Cats


Mouth ulcers for cats and are often caused by their immune system having an overreaction to normal levels of oral bacteria and plaque. This overreaction causes the soft tissue in their mouth to launch an inflammatory reaction and lead to ulcers developing along the inner oral cavity and gum line.

It's not always possible to determine why your cat's immune system suddenly treats the normal conditions in their mouth as a threat, but some underlying medical conditions are thought to make a cat more susceptible to developing mouth ulcers. Diabetes, lupus, being overweight and the feline calicivirus are all possible precursors to developing mouth ulcers. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for mouth ulcers in cats:


In addition to visible ulcers in your cat's mouth, which you may notice when you clean their teeth or are playing with them, your cat will have bad breath and likely lose weight due to loss of appetite. They may also begin drooling and their coat may look dull, which are clear signs that they are experiencing a health issue. Left untreated, the inflammation in your cat's mouth may progress to the point of causing lesions on their gums and visible facial swelling.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

You vet will take details of your cat's symptoms and health history and carry out an oral exam. An X-ray will likely be required to check the health of tooth roots and determine if there's any damage to the inner layers of the soft tissue. The vet will take blood and urine samples to check for signs of undiagnosed conditions that could have contributed to the ulcers developing. Additionally, your vet may swab your cat's mouth and have the skin cells analysed for the presence of bacteria, which would indicate an infection.

Treatment for mouth ulcers typically requires anti-inflammatories and sometimes antibiotics are required. Your cat will also have their teeth professionally cleaned to remove any plaque and reduce bacteria numbers in their mouth. This is done to allow their immune system to calm down and promote healing of the ulcerated tissue. If your cat is dehydrated or malnourished, they will be given intravenous fluids and nutritional support. Additionally, if an underlying health condition has been discovered during diagnostic testing, they will require treatment to manage that condition.

In cases where no underlying health condition has been found, your vet will schedule regular check-ups to ensure of any more new ulcers are treated promptly. In cats whose immune system repeatedly overreacts to oral bacteria and plaque, expect regular professional cleanings to control the environment in their mouth.

If your cat has ulcers in their mouth or if you have any concerns about their oral health, schedule an appointment with a veterinary dentistry clinic as soon as possible to prevent unnecessary suffering.     


24 February 2020

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