Pemphigus foliaceus in cats is an extremely serious disease that can cause pustules and blisters in isolated places on your pet, or if it is severe, it can literally attack their entire skin.
It is also a very painful disease and it has no breed preference but it does seem to attack primarily middle aged and older cats.
This disease can place you cat in a very serious situation, and if it is not treated quickly and very aggressively, it can and has been fatal.
At the current time, there is no known remedy to prevent it, but it can be controlled.
What Is It?
Pemphigus foliaceus in cats is a severe skin as well as an autoimmune disease, which makes it a tremendous risk to your cats overall health.
Any type of a skin disease that causes pustules and blisters can spread rapidly in your cat.
But when combined with an autoimmune condition it makes it almost a perfect storm of trouble for your cat.
An autoimmune disease is a situation where your cats own immune system mistakenly identifies something that your cats body makes naturally as a allergen or other types of invaders, and attacks it.
In a normal set of circumstance where it is an antigen or something foreign, this is what helps in keeping your cat healthy.
However, when it is an attack against itself, things can go horribly wrong.
With Pemphigus foliaceus in cats, your pet manufactures what is referred to as desmoglein, which is a glycoprotein.
Desmoglein is extremely important in your cat epidermis, as they are the agents that basically glue epidermal cells to attachment points called desmosomes.
When your cat lacks this critical component, it causes the outer layer of their skin to start to split apart. As it splits apart, it fills with fluid.
This split is commonly referred to a cleft with in your cats skin and it fills with both fluid and white blood cells.
The cells that are not attaching properly will start to attach to each other and float into the middle of the fluid causing pustules.
These pustules are very fragile and as a result can rupture quite easily leaving a lesion that is generally covered by a crust.
Pemphigus foliaceus in cats almost always starts to form on the either the bridge of your cats nose or on their ears.
The first symptom you can watch for is where the skin on your cat’s nose starts to lose it normal shape as well as most of its normal coloring.
At first you may think it is acne, but acne almost always affects the chin, not the nose.
Once this starts to occur, it should immediately tell you that something serious is about to happen to your cat.
Cats will face several types of skin infections and diseases during their life, but any time a skin infection starts in or on your cat’s nose, it is an autoimmune disease.
The next set of symptoms with Pemphigus foliaceus in cats will be the actual development of blisters and pustules that will rupture and then very rapidly develop into a crust.
If you can catch it very early and treat it aggressively, it can be suppressed. However, most owners do not identify it properly. Once this disease has firmly affected your pets nose, it is basically off and running.
It will than progress very rapidly to your cats ears and then their feet, including their footpads. From there it spreads to the legs.
Once it spreads to the legs, it will affect their entire body. At this point your cat is becoming extremely ill, developing a very high fever, and as a result will not eat.
Even if you cannot get your cat to eat, you must force them to drink.
Cats can survive for several days without food, but if they lose over 10% of their body fluids, it can be devastating.
Other like skin diseases:
Pemphigus foliaceus in cats can easily be confused with other skin diseases but it is extremely important to remember where they actually start to develop.
Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection that can develop anywhere in your cat, and although it too can be quite serious, it is not an autoimmune disease; it is a bacterial disease.
Discoid lupus is also an autoimmune disease but it is almost also limited to just the nose and it will not spread any further and is nowhere near the threat that this disease is.
There two other diseases that can cause confusion; Pemphigus vulgaris and pemphigus vegetans.
They are from the same pemphigus complex but they are extremely rare in casts.
Treatments for Pemphigus foliaceus in cats will vary, depending on the severity and how aggressively you can treat it and how quickly you get your veterinarian involved.
As soon as you notice anything at all different about your cat’s nose, topical steroids can provide a lot or relief to your cat.
This disease is extremely painful to your pet and although topical steroids won’t stop it, they are a good first step.
Immunosuppressive drugs such as corticosteroids like prednisone are the most frequently used drugs. Since this is an autoimmune disease, it must be suppressed so your cats system no longer attacks itself.
For these drugs to be successful, they will have to be given in very high doses by your veterinarian.
However, corticosteroids have several side effects that can cause almost as much damage as the disease, especially if used for any length of time.
They can cause muscle loss as well as affecting the liver and adrenal glands of your cat.
Once this wicked disease starts to stabilize, it is very important to request that the corticosteroid dosage be reduced and eventually replaced with antibiotics.
Gold salt injections have also been suggested as treatments, but they are extremely ineffective with autoimmune diseases and have even worse side effects than corticosteroids.
Pemphigus foliaceus in cats has no real preventive measures. Even the strongest of immune systems can be attacked by autoimmune diseases.
However, they can be slowed and stopped early if you learn to understand your cat’s nose in detail.
Learn its shape and its color, as only you can tell when something is changing.
This disease, as well as any other autoimmune disease, always starts in your cat’s nose.