Jeff Kahler: Cat’s inflamed lips could be allergy related

09/01/2014 4:48 PM

09/01/2014 4:50 PM

Lacey was petting Tabitha, her cat a while back and felt something out of the ordinary on her face. More accurately, Lacey’s description reflects something wrong in the area along Tabitha’s lips.

There was scabbing and thickening of the tissue and when Lacey looked closely, she saw that the involved areas were quite reddened. Tabitha objected to being touched along her lip margins indicating there was likely some pain involved with her lesions.

Tabitha has always been an indoor cat living with Lacey since she was 7 weeks old. She is now 4. Lacey shares that she feeds Tabitha a dry cat food made by Science Diet and nothing else.

Tabitha has no other four legged members of the household to contend with. Lacey is looking for direction as to what might be causing Tabitha’s lesions around her mouth and wondered if it might be diet related.

The lesions that Tabitha is displaying around her mouth are not unique to one specific disease process so I can not give a definitive diagnosis however, as many of my loyal readers will attest, that will not stop me from offering up a possible cause.

First off, let’s address Lacey’s thoughts concerning a possible diet association for Tabitha’s problem. It is possible that a diet sensitivity or allergy might be causing Tabitha’s problem. Another possibility is a contact allergy such as a plastic food and/or water bowl.

We can test these theories with a diet change and elimination of plastic food/water bowls if being used currently. If both of these things are done at the same time and Tabitha’s problem ceases, we will not know for sure what caused the problem. Tabitha I suspect, will not care.

This method however, will likely take a fair amount of time to work thus postponing relief for Tabitha.

My number one rule-out for the lesions Tabitha is enduring is a process called eosinophilic granuloma. This process in common lingo used to be called rodent ulcers as it was observed to occur with cats that ate rodents. The name is a misnomer however as there is no causative association between eating rodents and the development of eosinophilic granulomas.

The term we use here is a description of the type of cellular reaction and tissue response that occurs with this process. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell involved with the immune system and are commonly associated with an allergic response. Granulomas occur in response to chronic inflammation so in this case, we have an eosinophilic inflammatory response leading to granuloma formation.

In order to arrive at a definitive diagnosis, Lacey will need the help of Tabitha’s veterinarian. A biopsy of Tabitha’s lesions will yield the cause and from that information, a treatment protocol can be established.

If the cause is indeed eosinophilic granuloma, we will often treat with corticosteroids to stop the hyperactive (allergic) immune response and allow the lesions to heal and bring Tabitha relief. It is sometimes difficult to figure out what might be causing this exaggerated immune response although the plastic bowl scenario mentioned previously is a viable possibility. So too as mentioned, is diet.

The key for Tabitha is relief which will come with treatment tailored specifically to whatever is causing her problem.

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