Coping with feline oralfacial pain syndrome


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Aga Zoltowska explains a little more about feline oralfacial pain syndrome...

Q) My five-year-old British Shorthair has got feline oralfacial pain syndrome (FOPS). After all tests, she came back clear for anything more sinister. She is on Gabapentin 50mg one per day. It all started when she was grinding her teeth, which is the best way to describe it. It usually happens in a morning when she has her first big yawn and lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes. I can distract her either by play or stroking and she will stop it. What can I do to help her even more to cope with this condition. We did try an increase in the drugs but she wasn’t my girl anymore.


Your Cat reader



A) I have treated a number of cats suffering with FOPS and I really feel for you and your little girl. It is an awful condition. Feline orofacial pain syndrome is described as a pain disorder which presents intermittently with behavioural signs of mouth pain, commonly leading to damage to the tongue. It is thought to be a type of neuropathic (related to the nerves) pain. We know that Burmese cats are commonly affected and it is suspected that the disease has a genetic component in this breed.


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We think that internal and external factors can be involved. For example, eruption of permanent teeth or any situation causing anxiety in a cat. It may be worth evaluating the stress levels in your cat? Please remember that some cats can get upset by things that we would think of as unimportant and inconsequential! 


To be able to give you more detailed advice, I would really have to look at the results of the tests and investigations which were performed. From your description, it appears that she underwent a lot of detailed tests. Did the tests include assessing her teeth? Did she have dental radiographs performed and underwent any subsequent treatment? Have you discussed with your vet changing the frequency and the dose of Gabapentin?


Have you discussed using any other treatment? Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to give you meaningful advice without knowing the entire clinical history. I would suggest that you talk to your vet about your worries. I am sure that if they cannot answer all your questions, they will be able to contact a local specialist who may be able to help.