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.
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