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Vet Talks: Rodent Ulcers in Cats

Vet Talks 3 min read

Rodent Ulcers

“Rodent Ulcers”, otherwise known as indolent ulcers, are eosinophilic granulomas or a solid grouping of inflammatory cells coming together in a lump or solid structure. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell that are commonly associated and elevated with allergies. They are part of the immune system defending against parasites. Unfortunately, they can be tricked into thinking that allergens are attempting invasion. The eosinophils then release inflammatory chemicals inappropriately, creating sensation of itching, redness, and swelling. An eosinophilic granuloma complex (EGC) is broken up into 3 classes; the indolent ulcer, the eosinophilic plaque and the eosinophilic granuloma.


An individual cat may have any or all of them. It is designed to be attracted to areas where parasitism is occurring and once there it releases biochemicals to destroy the invading pathogens. Cats with rodent ulcers have an erosion on the margin of their upper lip. Sometimes these ulcers also develop on the tongue.


Eosinophilic plaques typically look like a raised thickened raw area of skin usually on the belly, inner thigh, or throat area. These lesions are extremely itchy. The Eosinophilic Granuloma produces a classical swollen lower lip or chin or a classical long, narrow lesion running down the back of the thigh. Sometimes proliferations grow from the actual footpads where they ulcerate as the cat is forced to walk on them.


Diagnosis is by a physical exam by your veterinarian, blood work and biopsy are recommended. These conditions most commonly have an underlying allergic basis though it is not always possible to determine what that allergic basis is. Fleas, food, and parasites are the most common underlying reasons. It is important to biopsy the lesions to confirm EGC and rule out neoplasia. Biopsy may also rule out other less common underlying causes such as demodex mites or ringworm fungi.


The first step is ruling out parasites, flea infestation and food allergies and treat those to start. Sometimes steroids or cyclosporine are necessary to treat tough cases. If allowed to go untreated, the ulcer can be very destructive to the upper lip and is painful. In addition to treating the problem, immune support with NHV Alge-Ex, Natures Immuno and ES Clear are helpful in supporting the immune system to fight the allergy. It may also be beneficial to detoxify the cat’s system with NHV BK Detox and Milk Thistle, and reduce the short term inflammation with Ouch Away Spray or Turmeric.

The eosinophilic granuloma is not a completely understood condition. For now, it is best to view it as an extreme symptom of another underlying skin disease.

Dr. Hillary Cook is a graduate of Virginia Maryland Regional Veterinary Medical school. She has been practicing holistic and integrative veterinary medicine for fifteen years. She certified in Veterinary acupuncture and is fully qualified in Western and Chinese herbalism. She is the owner of Animal Wellness Center, an integrative veterinary clinic in Crozet, VA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets including dogs, cats and chickens. When time allows, you can find her in the garden or on the tennis court!

Published: April 13, 2018

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