Are Cats with Stomatitis Infectious?

Many Possible Causes


What is your recommendation for placing an 11 month old cat who now has all but her canines removed, because of plasmacytic lymphocytic stomatitis, with other cats? I fear that whatever virus that’s involved might be transmissible to certain vulnerable individuals.


Dr. Nichol:

This is an important question with a nebulous answer. Feline stomatitis is a painful, debilitating swelling of the gums that can make eating even soft food an excruciating event. The only permanent cure for most affected cats is extraction of every tooth-including the canine (fangs) and incisor (front) teeth. There has been a great deal of research into the causes. So far it’s been a frustrating quest.


To get the latest, I consulted New Mexico’s only board certified veterinary dentist Dr. Kris Bannon. Any of several infectious agents could be responsible. Feline leukemia virus, feline AIDS, feline infectious peritonitis, corona virus, and bartonella have all been blamed. Calici virus, long known to cause upper respiratory disease and oral ulcers in cats, may be another contagious factor. There is value in testing for all of these, but the results may have limited value. Many cases have no identifiable cause.


There are happy endings with this disease. Most cats who’ve undergone full dental extractions do fine and require no further treatment. Some need life-long medication. The safest bet with this kitty would be to take no chances. I’d place her in a home as an only cat.