Feline Fans | Volume 13 – May/June 2015: Does your kitty have itchy skin?


Are you enjoying watching the ducks this May??

I hope that all my feline fans are enjoying the great Orange County ‘duck watching’ this time of year. From my kitchen window I can see the return of my favorite pair of ducks this season. Before long there will be babies…I just wait patiently until they hatch and parade through my yard!

This is also the time of year when we see lots of skin issues at IVS. Not nearly as much fun as watching ducks!

We felines are known for beautiful sleek coats of fur, but sometimes we need help being beautiful. Our Vets tell me that skin problems for felines have lots of causes…nutritional deficiencies, food hypersensitivity, bugs like fleas, fungal causes, or viral and bacterial infections. Worse yet-dust mites and storage mites in our home can contaminate dry food and cause us to be allergic! Yuck!

Best practice? Check out our coats for hair loss or scabs around our ears and eyes. Take a few moments and run a comb or brush through our coat and make sure you don’t find fleas or flaky skin.

I certainly don’t like a trip to the Vet any more than any other cat, but skin issues can make us uncomfortable, create infections, and cause us to hide from the ones we love. Learn all about my friend Mocha and her road to recovery! She now has her beautiful coat back!

And don’t forget to make your boarding arrangements at IVS. Vacation season is coming! You can get your itchy and non-itchy friends a bath before they go home so they look and smell great!

In the meantime enjoy the duck watching!!!!

From your friend-



Auto-immune Disease can create skin issues, too

By Dr. Marian Pascucci, DVM
University Park

Mocha is sweet 11 year old female spayed Persian who presented to IVS for crusting lesions and hair loss around her eyes and mouth. She also had crusts around her toenails. After she wasn’t responding to traditional medical management a biopsy of her skin revealed that she had an autoimmune skin disease called Pemphigus foliaceus. Based on this biopsy we were able to create a treatment plan that she has responded to beautifully and she is back to her gorgeous self.

Auto-immune skin diseases are relatively uncommon; however, Pemphigus foliaceus is one of the more common auto-immune diseases seen in domestic animals.

What is Pemphigus foliaceus?

Pemphigus complex is a group of immune mediated skin diseases involving inappropriate attack against one of the normal layers of the skin. This disrupts the attachment of the skin cells to one another. Pemphigus is classified by which layer is being attacked. From the top of the skin to the bottom the layers are Stratum corneum (horny layer), stratum lucidum (clear layer)

Pemphigus Foliaceus occurs when the attachment of the granular cells to one another is attacked. The separation of the granular cells creates crust and ulcers. This can be seen around the eyes, ears, footpads, groin, and bridge of the nose. Cats can have toenail bed crusting as well which can create sore feet. The Akita seems to be more predisposed to this skin disease. This disease is usually spontaneous, but can also be drug reaction induced or can result as a reaction of chronic skin disease.

Other classifications of Pemphigus include:

Pemphigus Vulgaris the attachment of the basal cell layer and prickle cell layer is attacked forming fluid filled blisters called vesicles. These can easily rupture leaving painful ulcerative lesions.

Pemphigus Erythematosus the attachment of the stratum corneum is attacked. This is a benign form of pemphigus foliaceus and more common in dogs. This disease is usually limited to the face and ear pinnae (bridge of nose and around the eyes). Superficial erosions, scales, and crusts are typical and concurrent nasal depigmentation is common.

Bullous Pemphigus the attachment of the whole epidermis to the dermis is attacked. This leaves ulceration especially on the head, neck, axillae, and abdomen, oral cavity, anus, vulva, prepuce, conjunctiva, and foot pads. Pets with this disease can become anorectic, depressed and have a fever.

How is it diagnosed?

A skin biopsy is required for a diagnosis of any of the auto-immune skin diseases.

Treatment for auto-immune diseases

The treatment for these diseases is immune suppression with medication, typically high doses of steroids and managing the secondary skin infections. It can take months of treatment to see resolution. This disease takes time and patience to treat. Sun exposure should be avoided as it can exacerbate the problem.

Met Mocha, a kitty with Auto-Immune Disease

By Kathleen

Mocha is 11 years old and is actively looking forward to many healthy years ahead. Times have not always been easy for this little 6 pound Tortie Persian feline.

She was “rescued” from a local pet store at 9 months of age, she was so sickly, weighed only a little over 3lbs, had “non-stop” diarrhea and had so little fur (just mostly “tuffs” of black fur, with just a couple of caramel spots), the groomer who bathed her could barely find enough fur to attach a tiny bow.

Because of the loving, expert care that she received from IVS at the time of her adoption, we were able to aggressively (and successfully) treat what we now know was probably a genetic autoimmune disorder.

Because of her history, this tiny cat seemed to have a “failure to thrive” syndrome as it took over 3 months of giving her liquid meds several times a day to finally heal her. She ultimately gained a few pounds, became very affectionate and LOVES to run around the house a few times a day – sometimes acting like a flying squirrel to get to her destination.

At about age 5, she developed a cough, which IVS (Dr. Cole) then did x-rays and found that little Mocha has asthma and multiple allergies. This was successfully treated and her allergies were under control until another intestinal challenge occurred about the time that her little brother, Scottie was adopted, three years ago.

After a few months of Scottie joining the family, all three cats developed intense intestinal allergies and Dr. Oakley worked successfully over a couple of months to get Mocha, Cinnamon and Scottie back to their healthy, active selves. Not an easy process as it took trying several meds and dietary changes to heal them.

Mocha was playing and doing well, but we took her to Dr. Oakley as we noticed what seemed to be “very small black pebbles” under her chin. Over the course of the next 6 months, Drs. Oakley, Cole and Pascucci worked SO diligently to help Mocha. Her “black pebbles” became aggressive and overtook her ears, much of her face and literally would grow back overnight after we would remove them (which also removed much of her fur). Dr. Cole did a skin biopsy on our little “Baby Cat” and a definitive diagnosis for Pemphigus Foliaceus came back from a dermatology pathologist.

Not only did IVS make our return VERY joyous – Mocha’s biopsy results dictated new, effective treatment! – but the IVS staff would take my daily calls and they would EACH check on her and give her some extra cuddle time.

While we will always need to be vigilant with watching Mocha’s skin for allergy flare-ups, her medication levels have tapered down to low levels and our recently, almost hairless-faced cat, is now fluffy, furry again and happily playing with us.

Prevent those Flea Bites and Itchies!


It’s warming up here in Southern California and the fleas are coming out to feast! According to our very own Dr. Caitlyn Snyder, “Fleas, ticks, scabies, and other mites cause pets to itch. Monthly pest preventatives are super important in a warm weathered climate like California. Some cats (dogs too) are allergic to flea saliva, so just one bite can make all of a pet’s hair fall out!”

The CAPC recommends starting your pet on “preventative flea and/or tick products as close to birth as possible (consistent with the label claims).’ At IVS, we recommend products like Revolution and Comfortis for your cat.

Irvine Veterinary Services offers bathing and grooming services as well. We offer a special shampoo to help get rid of the fleas and flea dirt left behind.

You can read more about dermatological issues by visiting our website. If your pet has itchy skin schedule an appointment today.

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