Feline oral cavity lesions diagnosed by histopathology: a 6-year retrospective study in Portugal

J Feline Med Surg. 2020 Oct;22(10):977-983. doi: 10.1177/1098612X19900033. Epub 2020 Feb 7.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to analyse the frequency of oral cavity lesions in cats, their anatomical location and histological diagnosis, and the effect of life stage, breed and sex on different diagnoses.

Methods: For this purpose, a retrospective study comprising 297 feline oral cavity lesions was performed over a 6-year period between 2010 and 2015. Histopathological records from the DNAtech Pathology Laboratory (Lisbon, Portugal) were analysed.

Results: The incidence of oral disease was higher in male cats (n = 173; 58.4%), mature adults (ranging from 7 to 10 years old [n = 88; 33.0%]) and in the European Shorthair breed (n = 206; 73.6%). The gingiva was the site where oral lesions were most commonly found, with 128 samples (43.1%). Incisional biopsies were used to obtain the majority of samples (n = 256; 86.2%), while excisional biopsies and punch biopsies were performed in 36 (12.1%) and five (1.7%) cases, respectively. Inflammatory and neoplastic lesions accounted for 187 (63%) and 110 (37%) of the studied cases, respectively. Malignancies were found in >80% of neoplastic cases. Feline chronic gingivostomatitis was the most common histological diagnosis (n = 116; 39.1%), followed by squamous cell carcinoma (n = 49; 16.5%) and eosinophilic granuloma complex (n = 33; 11.1%).

Conclusions and relevance: The present work, involving a large series of samples of feline oral cavity lesions, from numerous geographically scattered practices and all examined at a reference veterinary pathology laboratory, adds important new understanding of the epidemiology of feline oral disease.

Keywords: Oral cavity; feline chronic gingivostomatitis; histopathology; squamous cell carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases / classification
  • Cat Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cat Diseases / pathology
  • Cats
  • Female
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mouth Diseases / classification
  • Mouth Diseases / epidemiology
  • Mouth Diseases / pathology
  • Mouth Diseases / veterinary*
  • Portugal / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Species Specificity