If nasty, raised lesions start forming on your cat, he might be suffering from inflammatory granulomas. Formally known as eosinophilic granuloma complex, in cats they consist of ulcers and plaques as well as granulomas. Most of the time, Kitty's experiencing an allergic reaction when these sores show up.
Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex
Usually, the white blood cells known as eosinophils multiply when your cat is exposed to an allergen or experiences a parasite infestation. With allergens, the white blood cells go on the warpath, but instead of protecting your cat they cause problems. Affected cats might scratch incessantly. Inflammatory esoinophilic granulomas generally appear on the face, footpads, front legs or inner thighs. The most common is the "rodent ulcer," affecting the upper lip and inside of the mouth.
While severe lesions are hard to miss, other early signs can be subtle. Your cat might start scratching or licking himself. Some inflammatory granulomas don't bother the cat, so you'll notice a lesion when petting or just observing your feline friend. Lesions can be single or grouped together, red and scaly in appearance. If your cat starts having trouble eating, take a look inside his mouth for signs of lesions.
Fleas often trigger inflammatory granuloma responses, so if you see any of the little pests on your cat or spot flea dirt, a topical or oral monthly flea preventive can get rid of both problems. If your cat is already on a good flea control program, the inflammatory reaction is more likely due to food allergies or a substance in the cat's environment, such as pollen. Your vet can take skin scrapings and blood tests to determine what allergen provokes your cat. She might also perform a biopsy to rule out other possible causes of the inflammatory granuloma, such as an infection or cancer.
Sometimes, an inflammatory granuloma disappears on its own, but don't count on it. That's especially true if it's large and irritating your cat. Besides finding out the source of feline allergies, your vet prescribes steroids to combat inflammation. Finding the right food for an allergic cat can take some time, as it consists of a process of elimination until you find a type of meat that doesn't bother your cat. It's also possible that the exact cause of the inflammatory granuloma can't be found, so your cat could be on long-term steroid, antibiotic or hormone treatment.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.