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Feline Gingivitis and Stomatitis


Two mouth diseases in cats that commonly come together are:

  1. Gingivitis: inflammation of the gums
  2. Stomatitis: inflammation of the entire mouth, including the tongue, inner lips, floor, and roof of the mouth

Bacteria build-up on the teeth can enter your pet's bloodstream and infect other organs. If left untreated, it will lead to tooth loss.

Gingivostomatitis is treatable and preventable. Regular dental care at home and by your veterinarian is necessary for your pet to have good dental health.


There are no proven causes, but some theories include:

  • Diseases that suppress the immune system
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Kidney failure
  • Diabetes
  • Bacterial or fungal infections
  • Trauma to the face or mouth
  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy


Obvious signs that your cat has developed gingivitis and stomatitis are:

  • Severe inflammation where the teeth meet the gums
  • Severe pain: this can cause behavioral changes, including irritability, aggressiveness, depression
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty eating and weight loss
  • Bad breath
  • Inadequate grooming
  • Bumpy gums which bleed easily


To properly diagnose your cat with gingivitis and stomatitis, your veterinarian may perform the following:

  • Physical exam: teeth and gums
  • Dental x-rays
  • Blood and urine tests: to look for underlying diseases


Most veterinarians will recommend the following treatments for cats with gingivostomatitis:

  • Dental cleaning: using anesthesia, ultrasonic scaling, and polishing tools
  • Dental surgery: to remove badly affected teeth
  • Oral antibiotics

You will not be able to remove the plaque and tartar yourself because:

  • Tartar can reside below the gumline and continue causing problems, and you can only remove tartar above the gumline
  • It's unsafe to clean the inner parts of the teeth while your pet is conscious
  • Using dental instruments may scratch your pet's teeth, which will cause further damage. Your veterinarian will polish your pet's teeth to prevent this


  • Annual oral exams
  • Brush your pet's teeth daily with toothpaste made for pets only! Human toothpaste contains ingredients that are toxic for pets. It is crucial to brush your pet's teeth daily as plaque and tartar can accumulate in just six hours after a dental cleaning. Your veterinarian will instruct you how to brush pet's teeth
  • Your veterinarian can design a prescription, dental diet to remove plaque as your pet chews
  • You can add gels and liquid products to the drinking water
  • Give your pet special chew toys which are designed to reduce tartar


The prognosis depends on the underlying cause. In simple cases, the prognosis is excellent with a professional dental cleaning and at-home care.

Medically Reviewed by Sara Ochoa, DVM

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