As I stated in my last post, I realized that Lily had shown me several signs of her stomatitis before I understood she had a problem. I hope that by sharing them here that someone else will recognize the signs of stomatitis sooner than I did. Looking back, I realized that Lily had told me many times that she was in pain.
Screaming in Pain
The very first time I recall Lily expressing her pain was when I was folding laundry. The clothes were strewn across my couch, and Lily was lying on top of them. I folded the clothes, one by one, and eventually there was nothing left but what was underneath Lily.
I grabbed onto a sock and gently pulled it out from under Lily. When I did this, Lily gave a horrible scream, then jumped down and ran away. I followed her and found her hiding behind a book shelf. I was completely baffled about why Lily screamed, and was worried that I had someone hurt her by pulling out the sock, though I couldn’t imagine how.
It took me a while to coax her out to me, and when I did I checked the bones in her legs, and her paws. I no longer remember what I thought might have happened to her, but it never occurred to me to look in her mouth (she wasn’t yet drooling, and I hadn’t yet noticed any bad breath). There was no reason for me to check her mouth, yet if I had, I might have noticed how red and swollen her gums where.
Now, I understand what happened. When I pulled the sock out, either my hand or the sock brushed up against Lily’s mouth, causing her intense pain. That was the reason why she screamed, then ran and hid.
This wasn’t the only time I heard Lily scream in pain. There was another time that I happened to catch on video. It wasn’t until about a year after taking the video, when I was looking for video of her for this site, that I understood what I was looking at. If you watch the following video, you will see Lily playing “Bed Mice” as I made the bed. She gave a small yelp of pain, which I mistook for something else. You can hear me comment on it in the video below.
Lily drooled long before I realized she was drooling. She left many drool spots around my house, but I didn’t connect the spots with drooling, or with Lily being in pain.
Here is an example of a drool spot, which was on my bed where Lily liked to sleep. Notice that the drool spots are red. That is because there was blood mixed with her saliva. The blood was from the inflamed tissue in Lily’s mouth.
Before I knew Lily had stomatitis, I didn’t actually see her drool. I only saw the spots she left behind, such as the ones seen in the above picture.
Lily stopped grooming herself because it hurt her mouth too much to lick her fur. But I didn’t realize she had stopped. What I did notice was that she started to get a lot of matted fur. Lily’s fur is medium length, and is very silky. It easily mats up, and it got so bad that our vet shaved the matted fur each time I took her to the vet.
I later understood that Lily’s matted fur was also caused by her drooling. She would sleep with her tail tucked up around her face, and then drool from her mouth would collect on her tail fur. Her tail happens to have the longest hairs on her body. Because she wasn’t grooming, the drool dried, then the matting continued to get worse and worse.
If I had realized that matted fur was a symptom of something being wrong, I would have known to take her to the vet. The same is true for all of the other symptoms that I missed. Had I just known what was going on, I would have saved Lily from a lot of pain and suffering.
Cats are incredibly good at hiding their pain. Often we, as cat owners, need to be detectives and decipher the subtle (or not so subtle) clues that they leave us. If your cat starts to act in any way out of character, a trip to the vet may be in order, to rule out any major problems, such as stomatitis.