Oh, hey! It’s been a while, huh? I have so many things going through my poor brain these days, but today I wanted to post about my little stomatitis kitty. Most of y’all probably have no idea what that is, and I’ll explain here in a few, but for those who have cats suffering from stomatitis my hope is this post may help.
You see, when I first moved to Georgia some 8 years ago, I had only one cat. A few days before I moved, I had to put my beloved Alabaster down due to cancer which only left Loki. Without another cat to keep her company, Loki became fat, spoiled, and lazy. So after a few months I decided to get her a companion. I went up to the humane society, and this little kitty Sweetpea totally suckered me in. I took her home where Loki proceeded to make it know that she was top dawg, err kitteh, in our house. Eventually, they settled down and actually began to like each other.
After having Sweetpea for quite a while, she began to paw at her mouth and even cry out every once in a while. Being a good kitty mama, I took her to our vet only to find out she had stomatitis. I’d never heard of stomatitis before, but the vet explained what it was and most of the treatment options. I say most because what ended up working for her wasn’t among the first options presented to me. At the time, the best option was a combination of antibiotics and steroids, thankfully given in shots, that usually lasted around 6 – 8 weeks. We became regulars at the vet, Sweetpea and I.
Eventually, we moved to TN which meant starting over with a new vet. It was a rough start, too. The first time I took her in, the vet yanked open her mouth which caused her cry out in a way I’d never heard. I cried. Seriously, I immediately started to cry and could not get myself together. I left feeling like the worst pet parent in the world, but at least Sweetpea had her shots so she’d feel better (and hopefully forgive me some day).
After a while, I settled on a different vet at the same practice who had a gentle nature (it helped that there’s also a HUGE note written in Sweetpea’s chart that says “DO NOT TOUCH HER MOUTH”). The new vet and I decided that we’d done the whole steroids and antibiotics dance long enough, so I took the plunge and let them do a dental exam on her with permission to remove the worst of her teeth to try to calm down the stomatitis and give her some relief.
You see, stomatitis is an auto-immune disease where the animal’s gums attack their teeth as foreign bodies. Basically, her body turned on itself. The gums become very inflamed and painful making it difficult to eat or, really, just enjoy being a cat. The steroids would knock down her immune system enough for the stomatitis to subside between visits, while the antibiotics would ensure any infection in there would heal. It was a painful, God-awful cycle for her.
So, the day of her dental procedure, I dropped her off and went home to wait out the dread of wondering how the procedure would go. When the surgeon called, she said her mouth was a lot worse than they thought it would be, so they removed all but her 4 canine teeth. My heart sank, my eyes filled with tears. Just the idea that my poor kitty had all of her teeth but four yanked out made me feel terrible. They said I could pick her up that afternoon. By the time I got there, I was flat out devastated.
We had a helluva time with the recovery. She got an infection. I couldn’t figure out how to get her to eat anything. Nerves were shot, stress levels were high, and my poor kitty was in so much pain. I had syringes of pain meds to give her (and, by the way, if you happen to stick yourself with a dirty syringe after giving your cat her pain meds, most likely nothing will happen but you’ll wonder for days if you’re turning into a cat now that you share DNA with this little creature), but they only seemed to make her lethargic and even less inclined to eat.
Eventually she recovered, and she also began to eat canned food only again. After she fully healed, she even started to eat dry food. Can you imagine? A cat with 4 teeth eating dry kibble?
Then it happened.
The stomatitis came back. I was devastated that I put my cat through the pain of having all her teeth removed only to find out that it didn’t solve the problem. Removing the canines was not an option for me, and the vet also agreed. We started the steroids and antibiotics again, and he vowed to find another solution.
He called me one day and said he’d found it. It was an off-label use of a well-known medication called Atopica. It was a liquid and would need to be given orally. Crap. How in the world was I going to manage to give oral meds to Sweetpea when her mouth was in pain? At first I tried mixing it with her food, but she’s pretty smart (and it smelled pretty bad). Eventually, I sucked it up and gently placed the tip of the syringe at the side of her mouth until she smacked it open. Then I squeezed. She became accustomed to the routine, and still today allows me to give her the medicine.
Here we are about 6 weeks later, and I’ve seen absolutely no sign of the stomatitis yet. The Atopica appears to be working miracles for my sweet little girl. She takes a dose every day, but eventually the vet is hopeful that we can move her to an every-other-day dose. The difference in her is amazing! She’s a happy little kitty, again. She’s mischievous again (much to the chagrin of our other cats), and she’s enjoying a mix of wet AND dry food!
I hope you’re still reading, and I hope this gives a little glimmer of hope to all you fur-parents out there with a cat suffering from stomatitis. Please talk to your vet about Atopica. It may not be the solution for your kitty, but it has changed my life and the life of my little Sweetpea.