Her birthday is next month so we celebrate her birthday with mine. She’ll be 3 years old.
We adopted her at 6 months, she had been through 3 fosters and we were her 4th family. She is a sweet, loving and playful cat but has a painful autoimmune disorder called “feline oral stomatitis.” It’s where her gums swell up and can be caused by stress (like when we moved and she could see and smell new stray cats). We keep her inside 100% of the time.
It all started when she turned a year old. She stopped eating so we took her to the vet. The vet checked her out and told us she had a condition called Stomatitis. They said she would need steroid injections. At that time, I was working and my husband had just lost his job. We switched her from dry food to wet and she continued eating wet food. Then we switched her to pate food then eventually to baby food meat. After she quit eating the meat, we were despatately looking for options. Since she had been through so many homes we didn’t want to give her up for what we knew would be a temporary situation. Someone told us about the Care credit card so I applied and was approved. The day I was approved, we were able to get her in and got her her first injection. It took effect after just a day and within 2 days we had her eating dry food again. A little over a month later, she quit eating so we took her again. There was one time we went five months without an injection but the minute we first heard her hiss at her food, we would be on the phone setting up a visit with the vet, unfortunately most of the times the injections wore off, it would be on the weekend (typically right after the vet closed on Friday) so we woyld have to go until Monday or Tuesday for the injections. We were able to get the injections monthly for close to two years, but eventually she started going less and less time between injections until they said we needed to have her teeth removed. Last Summer, we didn’t have the money up front to have the surgery we needed and couldn’t find any charities that would help, so we went to a local financial institution and took out a small loan to pay for the surgery. She had the surgery last July and since then, we have had to take her back one time where they gave her a pain killer and injection just for precaution but overall, she is like a kitten again. They were able to keep her front teeth both on top and bottom but the rest were removed.
After the surgery, they told us that not only did she have stomatitis, she also had severe peridontal disease and TMJ and that cats who are prone to Peridontal disease tend to start around 1 year (which she did). Her quality of life is back up to high and she acts more like a kitten than she did when we first adopted her (not to mention how big she is)
We still don’t give her dry food- her diet is 100% wet food and her food budget is almost as much as our family of four per week but it is 100% worth it to see her play and eat like a healthy kitten.
What is Stomatitis?
Stomatitis is a very painful (people think Autoimmune) disorder where the gums swell up over the teeth. It is said to be an attack on the teeth and the only way to rid a cat of the painful chronic condition is to remove all the teeth. If they leave teeth, or even bone, the condition can come back. Treatment tends to be antibiotics, steroids to reduce the inflammation and pain killers.
“What are signs or symptoms of stomatitis in cats?
Feline stomatitis is a common, painful and life threatening problem in many cats. It occurs in cats of all breeds and of all ages. Some breeds such as Himalayans, Persians, and Somalis more commonly develop stomatitis although we also see this condition in many domesticated short and long haired cats as well as in the oriental breeds.
Cats having stomatitis often have bad breath (halitosis). They also have red and inflammed gums (gingiva). In time the inflammation spreads from areas adjacent to teeth to areas more distant (back of the throat or the oropharynx). In some areas, the gums (gingiva) enlarge and block off areas of the oropharynx. Eating and swallowing become difficult and painful for many of these cats.
Many cats with stomatitis also have tooth resorption. The inflammed gingiva may appear to be growing into a tooth or the tooth may appear to have a hole. These are painful teeth.” (as per http://www.mypetsdentist.com/feline-stomatitis.pml)
The easiest way for me to type the symptoms, was to copy/paste from one of the many sources I went to to read about the condition when she was first diagnosed. There are tons of websites about Feline Stomatitis.
Those are just a few sites that have information on the condition, a quick search will show many others if you know your cat has stomatitis or suspect them of having it. It is one of the most painful chronic conditions a cat can have and treatment is needed no matter the cost. With the right treatment, they will have a great quality of life but don’t forget, cats don’t show pain as easily as humans do so your cat could be in pain without showing.