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Irritation, fur loss, skin bleeding -

An alley cat who constantly frequents my home for food disappeared for about 2 weeks (this is unusual and quite unlike her). Then she returned seemingly well and happy. However, 1 week later I noticed her scalp (above the eyes) becoming red/inflamed, and covered with a thin layer of what seems to be pus. Her eyes, which used to be round, were becoming slanted and hard for her to open. And occasionally, she would scratch her head very vigorously. Assuming this was just like any animal rash that I've seen before, I believed it would go away eventually.

However, as the week progressed the "rash" on her head - what I call it - was getting worse. Either her fur was being torn off by her claws because the irritation was just too great or they fell off. Now I can see some exposed flesh, blood, and more pus. Her wiskers are also missing now. Because she grooms herself, she also spread the infection/rash to her genital area. The infected areas seem to be located in her genital area (including anus) and around her neck, chin, face, scalp, and inside the ears.

Her behavior has changed slightly (she still eats, sleeps, drinks, etc) in that she doesn't go out as much anymore. Her energy level seems to have decreased a little, based on my observations. Not as reactive to the enviroment around.

She trusts me enough that i can stand next to her, but I'm not sure if it's safe to make contact. I plan to capture (for lack of a better word) her and take her to a doctor. But at the moment I'd also like to see if I can find anything on the net.

Any help is appreciated. Thank you.

P.S. here are some pictures of her (when I first saw the infections, and now).

1 Responses
931674 tn?1283485296
Those excoriations are quite severe, and she certainly looks miserable, I am so glad that you are going to catch her and take her to a veterinarian, she is sorely need of care. Potential causes for the itchy rash include skin parasites (demodex, ectopic ear mites, notoedric mange), fungal skin infection (ie. ringworm, usually causes scaly hairloss and not as itchy as the pictures look), and food allergy. With the pus you describe, a secondary bacterial skin infection is likely.  If there are lesions actually involving the inner ear pinnae and anus, I would also consider autoimmune conditions such as pemphigus or lupus. Pemphigus is usually crusty and can be itchy and lupus is more ulcerative and less itchy. A vasculitis/autoimmune reaction secondary to an anderlying viral infection (feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, FIP) is also a possibility, and obviously a big concern in a stray cat. The first step should be a blood test for feline leukemia and feline AIDs, and if these tests are negative, then more workup would be appropriate such as skin scrapings to look for parasites and infection, fungal (ringworm) culture, general bloodwork to evaluate internal organs, trial treatment for parasites with Revolution, a hypoallergenic diet trial for possible food allergy,  +/-  skin biopsies if no answer is found in preliminary testing.
Good luck,
Kimberly Coyner, DVM DACVD
Dermatology Clinic for Animals of Las Vegas
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