More Than Bad Breath

Alleviating the unpleasant symptoms of this oral condition requires vigilant treatment.


I run a feline-exclusive veterinary hospital in New York City. Last week, scattered among the usual appointments people made because of “vomiting,” “diarrhea,” “scratching,” “sneezing” and “peeing on the bed” was an appointment made because of “fish breath.” Technically, my receptionist could have chosen a more appropriate medical term, such as “halitosis,” but I admit that “fish breath” sounded more descriptive. The cat, Miche, is an 11- year-old neutered male.

Cats are carnivores, and given their meat- and fish-based diet, no one expects their mouths to be rose-scented gardens. But this mouth was more than simple fish breath. I could smell Miche’s mouth from 10 feet away.

There are several possible causes of bad breath in cats; the most common is dental disease with accompanying gingivitis. Upon examination of Miche’s mouth, I could see that he had moderate periodontal disease, but the accompanying gingivitis was shocking. The gums were fire-engine red. Examination of the back of the throat was equally dramatic. Instead of the smooth pink tissue I expected to see in the back of his throat, I encountered tissue that had the appearance of raw hamburger. Miche’s diagnosis was unmistakable: lymphocytic plasmacytic gingivitis stomatitis.

**Get the February 2012 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article or click here to purchase a PDF version.**

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