Are Oral Tumors Common in Two-Year-Old Cats?


Hello, Dr. Barchas!

I wrote to you about a year ago about my kitty that was born with an overbite and asked how common were there etc etc…well, since then she has gotten a bit worse unfortunately. The vet said a tumor has infected her poor deformed jaw and could slowly suffocate her to death because it’s pressing on her throat and eye. We are currently treating her with cortisone and Antirobe, which we see a small change but these medicines never seem to last long enough because abscesses keep coming back. My question is there any hope of this turning a tumor around? Does this seem like the only thing that could be done or used to treat this infection/tumor in the bone? Is there body that could help us on the cost of further treatments? She’s only 2 years old and too beautiful to let go…I would appreciate any help or advice.

Thank you!

Middletown, Ohio

Overbites are very common in cats. Usually they are harmless. Cats are lucky to be less superficial than humans–cosmetic trivialities like overbites don’t lead to social ostracism or low self esteem.

Severe overbites can be more than a cosmetic problem. In some cases the teeth of the lower jaw can grow into the tissue of the upper jaw. This can lead to painful infections or areas of chronic inflammation (irritation).

The areas of chronic inflammation can look just like tumors. True tumors are extremely rare in the mouths of two-year-old cats.

I therefore wonder whether your cat actually has a tumor. It sounds more likely that a wayward tooth is causing chronic inflammation that looks like a tumor. I suspect that dental work (specifically, extraction of teeth that are growing improperly) might remove the source of inflammation and solve the problem permanently.

I agree that it is too soon to give up on your cat. Some local SPCAs have veterinary hospitals that offer discounted services to needy individuals. If such a facility is available in your area perhaps your cat can benefit from a procedure that will allow her to live a normal life.

Photo: no sign of an overbite on Ben.

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