Gingivitis, stomatitis, calicivirus in cats: What are the solutions?

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Gingivitis, stomatitis, calicivirus in cats

5_gingivitisIf you notice that your cat doesn’t want to eat, cries out in pain at mealtime, has inflamed gums, has a bad-smelling mouth or drools, he is probably affected by one of the common cat diseases: gingivitis, stomatitis, calicivirus or another form of mouth disease, that unfortunately our kitty friends catch far too often. Do you want to know how to heal him yourself and what’s more, in a natural way? Well then, this article is for you.

How can you diagnose an infection / mouth inflammation in your cat?

You can very easily do it yourself, if your cat lets you open his mouth.

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You are looking out for red and inflamed gums, as well as unhealthy and ulcerated teeth. Be very careful, because the pain can make your animal violent and he can scratch/bite you without meaning to. If you take him to the vets, insist that the vet looks inside the cats mouth before diagnosing him. There are some cats who are very uncooperative, especially when they’re in pain, but blindly prescribing medicines without knowing the cause of the pain is unacceptable. It is essential to know which disease it is, in order to adapt the treatment. So a thorough examination must not be neglected. It’s up to your vet to find the right solution. The vet can try to take a saliva sample so as to determine the disease, and smell the mouth odour (when the cat has a strong unpleasant mouth odour, it’s generally a case of a bacterial infection or kidney failure).

What should you do in the case of mouth disease in your cat?

In certain cases it’s only an inflammation, which will pass without aggressive treatments that are dangerous for your animal (corticosteroids, long term antibiotics, needless extraction (avulsion)).

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Everything depends on the extent of the damage, and above all the immunitary defences of your animal. Whatever the disease, you must act to alleviate the pain.

1. Extraction and/or descaling

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First of all, if your cat has unhealthy or particularly plaque-ridden teeth, there needs to be a descaling and extraction of the rotten teeth. It’s the only solution. At this stage, neither antibiotics or natural products can do anything. Bacteria are the principal source of infection and plaque is the greatest contributor. Lots of serious infections can follow, and if your cat has immunodeficiency on top of that, things can quite quickly get dangerous for him. You must know that descaling reduces the bacteria but doesn’t eliminate them completely. So, if your cat continues his old lifestyle, you will have to renew the descaling and all the inconveniences that follow: anaesthetic, pain, vetinary fees. If his lifestyle is particularly unhealthy, you must repeat the process often. Alternatively, you can take care of your cats teeth yourself, without being obliged to brush his teeth morning and night with a toothbrush. Your cat can clean his own teeth through mastication. You can give him pieces of meat, like chicken or quail wings, but only raw meat! Never give cooked bones to your cats, it can be very dangerous as cooked bones easily splinter and can perforate your cats organs, which isn’t the case with raw bones!

If some of your cats teeth are rotten, the vet can carry out an extraction. All the same, in my opinion there must be a selective extraction of only the worst-affected teeth. Some vets say you need to take them all out, but in my experience it’s not worth making your cat disabled. If you take out all of the teeth, his life will never be the same again. A cat without teeth can drool, can never chew grass in order to purge, or chew his dry food, or meat etc. Some vets think that teeth are the source of all evil, whatever the state of them, even healthy ones. In my opinion, they get diseases mixed-up, or don’t look hard enough for the real cause. This is unfortunately what happened with my cat. After my experience, I will never do a complete extraction of healthy teeth, especially when the cause is stomatitis at the junction of the tongue and the palate, or at the pillars of the pharynx ( see the case of my cat Chouchou).

2. Naturopathy

If you and your vet decide that the inflammation is not very severe, you can consider the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve your cat. There are also natural methods that will calm your animal (Warning!!!as long as the animal is not in great pain!!!) The mouth inflammation needs to be reduced, but before anything it’s a case of reinforcing the immune system, which is at the root of every problem. Since that’s the preferred method of this website, I’ve dedicated a whole article to it, with a list of naturopathic products and their dosages, which will reinforce the immune system of your cat- you can read it here.

When you’re at the vets, don’t be scared to speak out. First of all, the vet doesn’t know what your animal gets up to at home, and it’s not the cat who’s going to tell him. Secondly, the more you know and are interested in, the better the effort your vet will make to take care of your animal. Some vets use methods that are too general, and which can prove fatal for your animal, and it’s the same thing with doctors. We need to stop idolising these people! Anybody can make a mistake and no one is perfect. If he tells you not to teach him how to do his own job, change to a different vet.

3. Antibioticotherapy and non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

If an infection is very serious with purulent ulcers, an antibioticotherapy is possible (antirobe, stomorgyl), which enables the destruction of bacteria residing in the mouth of your cat. Meanwhile, don’t forget to protect his stomach and intestines against this attack, by giving him pro and prebiotics.

If an inflammation is deeply serious, non steroidal anti inflammatories can be prescribed by your vet.

4. Corticotherapy

If nothing works and your cat is in great pain, you can plan a corticotherapy with your vet. Nevertheless, try small doses in tablet form, which you diminish in order to find the minimal effective dose (every 2 or 3 days). Avoid injections of long-acting cortisone: these are large doses and once they’re injected you can’t do anything. In the meantime, don’t forget that cortisone does not eradicate this virus, it just masks the symptoms. What’s more, cortisone diminishes immunitary defences,  and so the virus will become even more virulent. Your cat can also become tolerant to cortisone, and require stronger and stronger doses. Don’t forget that cortisone is dangerous for vital organs like the kidneys and the liver. If the other methods don’t work at all and the cat is in great pain, refusing to eat, he needs some relief. There are secondary effects of cortisone which can be fatal, but a life of continual pain is worse.

Warning

Never leave a cat without food, or water! It can be fatal for him! And even more so if he’s obese (feline hepatic lipidosis!). When the cat is in too much pain and refuses to eat, try raw beef/poultry in minced steak or finely diced into cubes, organic (or at least farmers market) and very fresh! If your cat prefers fish, you could also give him special cat tuna, almo nature brand (not tinned supermarket tuna! Too salty!), or cooked fish mixed with a bit of cooking water (salmon, cod, sardine fillets, mackerel fillets, all rich in omega 3), or also softened dry cat food. You must also avoid stress as much as possible, which in an ill cat can provoke a drop in immunitary defences. Let him rest in a peaceful environment, and don’t wake him up to take his medicine, as sleep is reparative- it doesn’t matter so much if you have to push back the time of his treatment a bit.

Tip

Minced meat can stick to the gums and hurt your cat, if this happens you can use linseed water. Put a bit of linseed in a glass and add water, leave for about 15 minutes. Stir, wait for the water to separate from the seeds and take just the water, which has become a viscous fluid. Mix it with the minced meat, which will slide more easily past the gums without sticking to either them, or to the sore throat.

Conclusion

Mouth diseases affect many cats, and especially immunodeficient cats (FIV, FELV) which illustrates that the immune system is the foundation of good health. When dealing with a cat who doesn’t have this immunodeficiency, in my opinion you must look to his lifestyle, his hygiene and also review his food, but above all carry out further clinical tests before identifying the problem, in order to find the cause of the mouth disease.

With this article, I have shared with you my own experience of mouth problems with my cats, and the cats that I have taken care of in an animal protection association. I invite you to give your advice/opinions, or to share your own experiences concerning this disease.

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