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Swollen lip

Species: Cat
Breed: Calico
Age: 6-12 months
My cat gets frequent and sudden swelling on her face (her bottom lip usually but today her cheek is swollen). She appears very healthy otherwise except I rarely see her drink water. My vet seems unsure of what to do.

We have put her on 2 rounds of antibiotics and the swelling seemed to disappear quickly, but now does so without the medication. We also recently switched her to hypoallergenic food (about 3 weeks ago), but her swollen cheek today has me very worried.

She is an indoor/outdoor cat. She is only allowed outside in my backyard on a harness and leash.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This is a tough question to answer without being able to see Cinnamon. But, I do have some ideas for you.

You may want to ask your vet about the possibility of this being something called an eosinophilic ulcer. These cause lesions to appear. The most common area is indeed the lips, but they can appear anywhere.

Sometimes they are mild and go away on their own. And sometimes they can get very swollen and bothersome.

If they don't go away on their own they need to be treated with a steroid injection. Some cats will need a second injection 2 or 3 weeks later for them to go away completely.

Unfortunately for some cats these can come back repeatedly. In these cases, sometimes an allergy is the cause and we try the cats on a hypoallergenic food and switch feeding bowls (if they are plastic) to something else (as some cats are allergic to plastic).

If your vet doesn't think it is an eosinophilic ulcer then the next step would be to biopsy one of these lesions. A biopsy will almost certainly tell us what is going on.

If her cheek is really swollen though, there may be an abscess. While most abscesses go away with antibiotics some of them will not heal up unless they are surgically opened. And some of them can be resistant to antibiotics. The vet may need to do a test called a culture to determine if there is a resistant infection present.

Hope she is better soon!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.