25 June, 2015


We've called Louhi "Toothless" ever since How to Train Your Dragon came out.

We did not expect that nickname to be prophetic.

She has lousy teeth. We always end up with one cat who does. The teeth themselves are fine, but the gums get all plaque-y inflamed. Pooka, as he got older (like, 9 and up) had to have yearly cleanings. Louhi's only seven, but we put her on a yearly cleaning schedule last year.

So fast forward to the vet calling and asking us to come in and 'talk about some options.' That's never good. We knew her bloodwork was fine, so we weren't thinking omg, she will die! or anything. And indeed, she will not die. But she does have relatively severe feline stomatitis. This is a fancy way of saying her gums and the rest of the mouth membranes are inflamed.

The vet was surprised. Most cats stop eating when it looks like her mouth does. She, of course, did not stop eating. (That's really our metric for cat health. If the cat eats, s/he's fine. If s/he doesn't, go to the vet ASAP.) And since she's all of 7.5 lbs, the eating is important. Neither of our cats now carry much body-fat insurance against major illness.

It's an immune response, stomatitis, but in cats, they aren't quite sure why or when or how. She doesn't have a compromised immune system (like leukemia or FHIV). She has no apparent food allergies. And our vet was not all about 'stop her food now! let's do something else now!' He's pretty cautious and conservative with treatments. Always do the smallest thing first. Wait and see. Nothing drastic unless it's obvious that's what we need.

Which is good, because the treatment for stomatitis in cats is... well, there's steroids, which we will try first, but in severe cases (and the vet's on the fence about whether her case qualifies, since it's not the whole mouth affected), they remove the teeth. All the teeth. The vet thought maybe he could leave her a couple incisors and her lower fangs, because those parts of the mouth aren't mad yet. She's already down two. They sent them home with us in a little test tube.

On the one hand, steroids would be preferable to major mouth surgery. On the other, once the teeth are out, it's done. No more dental stuff. No more stomatitis, ever. We'll have to see which way she goes. She's a rescue, like Idris; her whole litter was bottle-raised from birth, but she was the runt. As in, our vet (who happened to be the vet who dealt with her litter, since he's one of the vets who works with the shelter) didn't think she'd make it. The foster mom insisted she would, and here she is. Does that mean she has issues that will manifest and kill her? I don't know. She's tiny. She's always been tiny. She was a PITA eater until we put her on a raw diet, but she's never been sickly or frail. So we'll see.

This has been one hella year for vet bills.