31 Feline paraneoplastic alopecia
Feline paraneoplastic alopecia is a cutaneous marker for visceral neoplasia. This syndrome has been described in old cats in association with pancreatic adenocarcinomas and bile duct carcinomas, with or without metastases to the liver and/or other organs. A direct relationship between the neoplasm and the cutaneous lesions has been established by resolution of the skin lesions in response to surgical excision of the tumour, and their subsequent recurrence with metastatic disease in one reported case. However, often the condition progresses rapidly and affects the welfare of the cat. This report describes a case where there was sudden onset of skin lesions with rapid progression and poor health in association with hepatic neoplasia.
Nearly all reported cases have a history of short duration and may show non-specific systemic signs such as polydipsia, polyuria, poor appetite, weight loss and lethargy. Pruritus is variable, ranging from none to excessive grooming. The affected cats may have no previous history of skin problems.
The cutaneous signs, which usually begin acutely, include a bilaterally symmetrical alopecia involving the ventrum and the limbs. As the lesions progress the characteristic shiny glistening appearance of the skin is seen, together with erythema, scaling and pigmentary macules. The hair is easily epilated. The footpads may be painful and become dry, with scaling and fissuring. Generally, affected cats show non-specific signs of weight loss with abdominal pain and distension. Abdominal palpation may reveal hepatomegaly, a mass and presence of fluid. Concurrent secondary bacterial and yeast infections are common.