RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

Feline Friday – #13 – Frankie’s disease with the long name



As the whole world knows by now (!) Frankie chose to come live at our house in December, 2013. From the beginning he has been a spunky little cat causing as much trouble as is felinely possible.

From day one I discovered he had really bad breath. And as time went on it got to the point where his breath could kill a skunk. This was not so cool as he has always liked sleeping with his head under my chin and I was getting a good whiff every time I breathed in!

He was also drooling and smacking his lips loudly all the time.

In August of last year I took him to his regular vet as his worms had returned. At the same time I asked the vet about the halitosis and drooling. He took one look in Frankie’s mouth and said everything looked okay.

I wondered if it had something to do with the worms returning so I figured I would let it go and see what happened.

The bad breath got so bad I was really thinking a mouse had died in his tummy! And the lip smacking and drooling also had not gone away.

I called a friend who recommended another vet so I could get a second opinion.

When I called and described the symptoms over the phone to the receptionist she said it sounded like something to do with his teeth. I thought, how could she know that when she hasn’t even seen the cat?

Well, the vet took one look inside his mouth and said, this is the problem! (Warning! Do not read any further if you are squeamish.)

Oh my goodness. I was not ready for what I saw. She had pulled down his lower lip to show me his gums that were bright red, raw, bleeding and covered in ulcers. Poor baby!

The condition is known as lymphocytic plasmacytic gingivitis stomatitis… the words rolled right off her tongue like she said them every half hour! She said this was the most severe case she had ever seen… and certainly never in a cat so young. Usually they don’t develop this until they are much older. And Frankie is only eighteen months.

Apparently it’s caused by a cat being allergic to the plaque build-up on their teeth. It can either be an auto-immune syndrome or leukemia. In serious cases like Frankie, ultimately all the cat’s teeth have to be removed.


If you really have a strong stomach and want to see what this looks like, Google the words “lymphocytic plasmacytic gingivitis stomatitis photos”… and I assure you the worst of these is not as bad as what Frankie’s mouth looks like.

The vet gave him a steroid and anti-biotic shot. I made an appointment right away with the dental surgeon to have the plaque removed from his teeth and the removal of three teeth that couldn’t be saved. While he was anesthetized I authorized a biopsy. The good news on the biopsy, if anything about this can be good, is that his disease is an immune problem, not cancer.

After I adopted Frankie from the animal shelter, I read the pages and pages of his medical history and realized he had been one really sick cat rescued from wandering the streets. So it isn’t a huge surprise that he has this disease. My feral cat Pharoah also has an auto-immune disease that affects his left eye in which he has very little vision, if any. I did a lot of research on the topic and found that administering L-lysene to Pharoah in the form of treats and powder mixed in his food has helped him greatly and saved him from having the eye removed.

So I’m now starting Frankie on low doses. He will still have to be given more antibiotic and steroid shots and probably have to undergo more plaque removal. At least now his bad breath has abated and he is no longer drooling and smacking his lips. So I am hoping we can avoid the removal of all his teeth.

If I had know about Frankie’s medical history before he adopted me, and had I seen all this coming, would that have changed my mind about him being part of the family? I doubt it. Frankie is the sweetest, if naughtiest, cat on the planet and without him there would be a big hole in my life. I am sure Freddie and Pharoah would tell you the same thing.

At this point we are all crossing our fingers, toes and paws that Frankie will have a good long life.

But the question remains, given the obvious symptoms, even without seeing the gums, why didn’t the original vet catch it last year?

Photos: The first photo was taken a few months ago. The second photo I just took five minutes ago showing his leg shaved for the IV.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


Author: RMW

I am an explorer and creative person. I've had many jobs, careers and interests... everything in life and the universe fascinates me. Born in Brighton, England, I've lived my entire adult life in Los Angeles, California. A few years ago I rediscovered photography which is a great excuse to get outside and look. I'm also in the process of re-writing some of my unpublished short stories and possibly a novel. .

23 thoughts on “Feline Friday – #13 – Frankie’s disease with the long name

  1. Oh the poor baby! Good thing he has you!


  2. Since I don’t have a strong stomach, I couldn’t Google the photos. Poor Frankie, but he sure is lucky to have you as his nurse, Roslyn. 🙂


  3. Good to know Frankie is coming along well with your tender loving care.
    The question still remains, why didn’t the original Vet discover this quite obvious problem, or understand the signs and symptoms ?


  4. Poor sweet Frankie. He’ll get better for sure with all the love he receives from you.


  5. Poor little guy … thank goodness you sought the opinion of a secondary veterinarian. It’s tough when we entrust the care of our fur babies to someone, and they let us down, especially when we specifically bring the symptoms to their attention. It seems that first vet should certainly have been able to diagnose Frankie’s issue, and if it was me, I would likely contact the first vet to let them know that they had missed the diagnosis. Hard not to be upset with them, since poor Frankie could have begun receiving treatment months earlier, if only they had properly diagnosed his condition. Perhaps they need to be educated on the disease, so any future cases that come into their office can be diagnosed properly (and promptly). Yep, I would likely have a conversation with the vet.

    I once had a vet completely mangle the surgery for neutering my Cocker Spaniel, (and I very nearly lost him), and it scared me half to death. He caused intestinal bleeding, infection, and the sutures all ruptured. It took several months before my poor Mackie’s sutures healed properly, and he ended up having to have two additional surgeries to correct the problems that resulted from the initial neutering procedure. It was horrific. It also ended up with me never, ever, ever taking an animal to that vet’s office again. If he couldn’t properly handle a routine neutering procedure, what would happen when something very serious might come up? Luckily, I found another vet that turned out to be very trustworthy and knowledgeable, who helped us get through the months of recuperation and restorative surgery, (and I’m still taking my animals to him twenty years later). I now have a senior Akita, with various issues (arthritis, glaucoma, hearing loss) and my veterinarian is my strongest ally in helping Bruiser live a comfortable life.

    p.s. Even though I’m technically a “dog person”, I’ve shared my home with a few kitties over the years, and as cats go, your little Frankie is incredibly adorable. Love his coloring and those gorgeous eyes. What a sweetie. Hope his (super long medical term for his disease) is under control now, and he never has to suffer through those painful blisters again. Poor little guy. Thank goodness he found himself a home with a mommy willing to go the extra mile to ensure his health and well being. Lucky him, lucky you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Yes, I had thought about writing a note to the previous vet… but as usual that will probably slide by. At least I now have a vet I have some confidence in… at the previous place it was like Grand Central Station…. just too busy. In future I’ll be taking the boys to the new vet… but then again, nobody is perfect. But for right now she seems to be my best option.
      May Bruiser live a happy long life.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Poor little Frankie. He’s so fortunate that you rescued him. I’m so glad the problem has been diagnosed and is able to be treated. Hope he recovers soon and can keep his teeth. 🙂


  7. Big fail by the first vet, Ros. That steams me. Poor Frankie, suffering because of that missed diagnosis.

    The good news is, you kept at it, and Frankie now will be on the mend from his big and very bad gum disease. That must have been so painful. Now you will have minty-fresh cat breath back with your companion, too, I hope. 🙂


  8. My Joe had many teeth removed and still likes his dry food. Good Luck Frankie. Hope you’re not in too much pain. You have a good caring mom. (What do you call a DVM/DMV who graduated the last in his/her class? A vet)


    • I read that cats with no teeth learn to eat dry food with their jaw bone… I certainly hope this doesn’t happen but he is a resilient little chap. As for the original vet…. aaaargggghhhhh……..

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Captivating stare Frankie ! You have magnetized me,my boy!
    Your loving care,Roslyn, will be the best medicine for him … Poor little soul,hope he soon gets better:)


  10. Pingback: Feline Friday – #26 – never a dull moment | One Good Life in Los Angeles

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