Stomatitis in Cats: Causes, Identification, and Treatment

Medically reviewed by Nicole Wanner, DVM
Stomatitis in Cats: Causes, Identification, and Treatment

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Stomatitis is widespread inflammation within the mouth. "Stoma" means opening with "itis," meaning inflammation. In cats, inflammation is most commonly found in the back portion (the caudal part) of the oral cavity (oropharynx). Stomatitis is known to be a blanket term due to widespread inflammation throughout the entire mouth.

Stomatitis is a painful oral disease that affects cats. It's the immune system's overreaction to plaque buildup on the teeth' surface. The oral cavity's caudal area becomes swollen, ulcerated, and the tissue thickens. Cats find it difficult to eat and often experience poor quality of life due to the pain and inflammation associated with this condition.    


Unfortunately, the causes of Stomatitis in cats aren't clear. So, there's no exact answer to this question, although contributors to the condition have been found. In many cases, veterinarians and veterinary scientists believe the cause is thought to be immune-mediated.

When a cat has an immune-mediated response, the cat's immune system attacks its oral tissues in response to bacteria in the mouth. Many cats with Stomatitis also have an underlying health condition like feline calicivirus, FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), FeLV (Feline Leukemia), autoimmune conditions, or kidney disease.

Dental disease, also known as periodontal disease, can also be a contributor to Stomatitis. Periodontal disease occurs due to plaque accumulation (bacteria) on and around the teeth leading to excessive inflamed gums.


Inflammation is often linked to feline stomatitis symptoms. Gums that are extremely red and irritated are often the first warning. Stomatitis causes parts of the mouth to become infected and bleed easily.

Bad breath, excessive swallowing, and drooling are all symptoms of feline Stomatitis. Since Stomatitis is so painful, cats often avoid grooming themselves and refuse to eat. They may also have some trouble sleeping or be more aggressive. Stomatitis causes cats to have matted fur and lean bodies, making them look grungy.


Since Stomatitis is a blanket term referring to widespread swelling in the mouth, it is not generally considered contagious. However, some of the factors that may trigger the disease are potentially infectious.

Calicivirus, for example, is extremely transmittable, and infected cats may shed the virus in saliva or nasal or eye secretions. Feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency ( Feline Aids ), feline infectious peritonitis, and Bartonella virus are all contagious in cats.


With this condition, there are happy endings. So, if your cat has been diagnosed, you shouldn't take it as your cat must be euthanized.

Taking the proper measures can dramatically improve your cat's quality of life. Most cats that have had their teeth extracted are fine and do not need any further care. 


There's no specific test to determine if your cat has Stomatitis. Diagnosis is based on your cat's health history and physical examination with observation. Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus. X-rays and oral examination are also highly recommended.

Examining a stomatitis-affected cat's mouth can be challenging as the cat will more than likely be reluctant to allow you near their mouth due to pain. Your vet might recommend sedation to allow for a more thorough and relaxed inspection.

The severity of the case determines treatment for feline Stomatitis. There is no clear treatment for feline Stomatitis because we don't know what causes it. There are, however, ways to manage the condition.

Regular visits to your veterinarian are recommended if your cat has been diagnosed with feline Stomatitis to ensure careful management. Since Stomatitis is so painful, the first step is to manage the pain with medication and, if necessary, treat it with antibiotics. Since periodontal disease is often linked to Stomatitis, your veterinarian may recommend a thorough cleaning to support your cat, even if it isn't the trigger.

Stomatitis isn't considered a 'curable' condition, but symptoms can be greatly reduced using long-term anti-inflammatory and antibiotic medications.

If your cat doesn't react well to treatment, your veterinarian would most likely suggest tooth extraction (or a few teeth to be extracted). Teeth provide the ideal habitat for bacteria to induce inflammation. After tooth extraction, bacteria in the mouth decrease, and inflammation decreases, allowing the cat to eat normally.


First of all, you should always consult your vet as they are qualified to diagnose the issue and advise you on treatment, whether it ends up being conventional or natural.

With that being said, since Stomatitis is an inflammatory condition, CBD for cats is worth discussing with them.

There have been numerous small studies in both animals and humans that suggest CBD may support a reduction in inflammation in certain situations.

Coconut Oil for Feline Stomatitis

One of the suggestions you may see for feline Stomatitis is coconut oil. Coconut oil is excellent for a cat recovering from Stomatitis. It can also help with itchiness, dry skin, and maintenance of its coat since your cat can't groom herself during the painful moments of Stomatitis. Coconut oil can not only help your cat's immune system but also minimize bad breath, reduce inflammation, and reduce the prevalence of hairballs.

Coconut oil is also beneficial in that not only does it serve as an anti-inflammatory, but an anti-microbial as well.


If you think your cat has Stomatitis, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. If your cat is having trouble eating, grooming, or sleeping, you should see an emergency veterinarian determine the cause of the problem.

The sooner the condition is discovered, the more favorable the outcome.


Feline Stomatitis is an excruciatingly painful oral disease that must be examined as soon as possible. Scientists hypothesize the condition may have various contributing factors, including feline leukemia virus, genetics, or periodontitis.

Coconut oil and CBD and may be able to help, but its best consult with your vet as they are qualified to properly diagnose and advise you on treatment. 

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