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Balding legs

Species: Cat
Breed: domestic shorthair
Age: 2-5 years
Two month old Freddie was a rescue with mites. He went through the sulphur bath treatment and was fine. However, within the last two years he has developed what the vet calls an auto immune disease, primarily with fur missing on the back of his leg. Twice the vet said to just ignore it, and it would go away on its own, which it did. On another occasion when sores appeared around his mouth, he was given a cortisone shot. I wonder if there is anything topical he can be given to help, or what you would recommend about this condition.

Thank you.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm going to ask you some questions about Freddie before I give you a full answer.

Did the vet give you a name for the immune disease they are thinking this is? Some examples are pemphigus or lupus.

What you are describing sounds like it's possibly an eosinophilic plaque. Does that name sound familiar? Another name for this is rodent ulcer.

Also, do you know what kind of mites he had before?

Dr. Marie.

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Customer reply:

Unfortunately, we didn't think to ask what type of autoimmune disease they suspected. The affected area must itch, as he licks it a lot. The sores around his mouth (seen only once) were red slightly swollen spots, no crusting. The vet gave him 80 mg of Convenia, and 20 mg of Depomedrol, if that helps. The back of the leg problem has ocurred a few times. It looks perfectly normal, except minus some fur, and did go away without treatment.

We call him Freeway Freddie, as he was found on a freeway overpass. We took him to the Golden State Humane Society when we got him in Dec. '07. I don't recall them telling us which type of mite, but I do recall them saying it was not the worst type. He was given Clavamox and given three medicated dips over a period of 3-4 weeks, and isolated from our other three cats during the treatment. His ears and nose were crusty looking when we got him, so we knew something was wrong with him.

I'm sure that is not much help, but all I can provide.

Eosinophillic plaque does not sound familiar, but I cannot say as we don't have that specific info. Sorry.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

OK, thanks for that information.

Even though "eosinophilic plaque" doesn't sound familiar, I am guessing that this is what Freeway Freddie (great name by the way) has. There are other names for it and it's possible that the vet didn't even put a name on it.

When you first mentioned an immune condition I got thinking about things like pemphigus. Pemphigus can cause some severe skin lesions. But, it doesn't go away on its own.

If this is an eosinophilic plaque, or something similar, we don't really know the cause. We think that it could be related to allergy. But in many cases we don't know what the cat is allergic to.

I generally treat these with a steroid injection (i.e. the depomedrol). If it looks really bad then I will use antibiotics as well (hence the Convenia).

Now, if I see a cat where they are simply losing some hair but there aren't any lesions then I will often do what your vet suggested and just wait and see what happens. Often these will go away on their own.

Do you know if your vet has tested for any mites recently? This would be by doing a skin scraping. Some cats with a mite called demodex will have bald spots on their legs. Until recently I thought that only cats in the Southern US could get demodex but I've recently learned that cats all throughout North America can get it. So I am testing for it more.

The other possible reason for balding on the back of the legs is overgrooming due to "anxiety". I say "anxiety" in quotes because often these cats are not outwardly anxious. If I have a patient that is really bothered by their skin condition or has a huge amount of balding then I will sometimes put them on an anti-anxiety medication such as amitriptyline or clomicalm.

Sometimes changing to a prescription hypoallergenic food can make a difference in cases like this.

As far as topical medicine goes, if he is just having some balding areas then there is not much that I would recommend. But, if he is having some sores then your vet may prescribe a steroid cream to use as necessary.

I hope that helps!

Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

I looked up eosinophilic placque on the internet. The Esinophillic granuloma complex sounds like his condition. His legs have a strip down the back of his leg when this occurs. I have not noticed anything other than pink skin, no crusted areas, no yellow color, and it does not appear to be inflamed, but being originally a street cat, it is hard to get him to stay still to look more carefully. Our cats are indoor/outdoor and we do give them monthly flea prevention medication--Advantage. When this ocurred on his face, it appeared as swelling on the bottom lip.

Thanks for your insight into this!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Yes, eosinophilic plaque and EGC are the same thing.

It sounds like your vet is doing all of the same things I would!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for the bonus! You made my day! :)

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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.