Symptoms of lingual ulcers in a feline

Written by cate burnette
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Symptoms of lingual ulcers in a feline
Ulcers on your cat's tongue make it hard for him to eat. (cat image by Dwight Davis from

Your cat drools or drops his food on the floor and you notice what appears to be a sore on his tongue or lips. When your vet diagnoses the sore as a lingual (tongue) ulcer called an eosinophilic granuloma, what causes the disease and how to treat it may depend on what foods your cat eats. Eosinophilic granuloma has no definitive veterinary treatment protocol and, depending on the type of lesion, may be symptomatic of other food allergy or inhalant allergy related diseases, state the veterinary experts at Mar Vista Animal Medical Center.

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An indolent ulcer (also called eosinophilic or rodent ulcer) appears on the middle upper lip and tongue of cats of all ages and breeds. Originally thought to be the result of cats eating infected mice, veterinarians still don't know what causes the disease, although a hypersensitivity to certain allergens is suspected. This lingual (tongue) ulcer appears as a thickened, brownish, defined lesion close to the side of your cat's mouth.

Tongue and mouth ulcers called eosinophilic plaque can transfer to other parts of your pet's body, usually the abdomen or thighs. Raised and well defined, these lesions appear red, hairless and oozing. Any breed, age or sex of cat may contract these ulcers.

Eosinophilic granuloma ulcers present as long, inflamed lines on the tongue and face, bottom lip, and back legs of your cat. Appearing as thin, straight lines, these lesions are pink-yellow in colour. Older, male cats contract the ulcers more often than younger toms or females and often, the lesions transfer to your cat's footpads.

Inability to Eat

Ulcers on your cat's tongue, lips and gums expose nerve endings and cause pain, making chewing food difficult for your cat. As the lesions become larger, they can travel to the areas under his tongue, to the roof of his mouth and down the back of his throat, causing swallowing to become painful. As he loses his sense of taste to the ulcer's erosion on his tongue, your cat may forego eating for comfort and start losing weight.


Some cats with oral lesions drool because the excess proliferation of eosinophilic and epithelial (skin) cells around the ulcers cause the salivary glands to produce more saliva than normal. If your cat also has ulcers on her lips and gums, the sores can cause the mouth to not close properly and drooling to occur.

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