Lick Granulomas (Eosinophilic Granulomas) in Cats

Eosinophilic granulomas, formerly called lick granulomas, are a group of skin diseases producing ulceration and granulation of the skin. Some sores may be associated with an allergic skin disorder, such as feline miliary dermatitis, food hypersensitivity, or inhalant allergy. In others, the cat's immune system may be suppressed by a condition such as feline leukemia.

Indolent (rodent) ulcers are most often found on the middle of the upper lip, occasionally on the lower lip, or in the mouth behind the last upper molar. The ulcer is not itchy or painful. It has the potential to develop into cancer.

Eosinophilic plaque is an itchy skin condition that occurs in young to middle-age cats (the average age is 3 years). It is characterized by well-circumscribed, raised, red plaques with hair loss. These plaques are found on the abdomen and inner thighs. They are believed to be caused by an allergy, including flea allergies. The diagnosis is made by a biopsy of the plaque.

Linear granulomas, also called feline eosinophilic granulomas, occur in kittens and young cats (the average age is 1 year), more often in females than in males. They are circumscribed, raised, and red but present a linear rather than a circular appearance. They occur on the backs of the hind legs, in most cases on both sides, one side being the mirror image of the other. Linear granulomas also involve the foot pads and may occur in the mouth or on the chin. This condition is believed to be the result of an allergy. Cases just involving the foot pads may be a reaction to something in the litter. Diagnosis is like that for eosinophilic plaque.

Mosquito bite hypersensitivity affects the bridge of the nose and tips of the ears and produces itching of the pads of the feet. Characteristically, you will see crusty sores with erosions and scabs. When the condition is severe and generalized, it is accompanied by fever and swollen lymph nodes. It disappears in winter (when there are no mosquitoes). Cats with hypersensitivity to mosquito bites should be kept indoors.

Treatment: Identify the underlying cause of the problem, if possible, and treat it accordingly. Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) can help relieve the itching. Cortisone can be administered directly into the sore by injection. Oral cortisone preparations are required in most cases. Intramuscular injections of methylprednisolone acetate have also been used. Treatment should be vigorous, because eosinophilic granulomas are difficult to treat and tend to recur. Veterinary supervision is essential.

This article is excerpted from “ Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” with permission from Wiley Publishing, Inc.