Feline Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex: Rodent Ulcer in Cats

A rodent ulcer is a common form of Feline Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex. The disease presents itself as a hard lesion that appears on the inside of a cat's lip. While it looks painful, the ulcer seems to pose no discomfort to an infected cat.

Feline eosinophilic granuloma complex affects a higher percentage of female cats versus males. The breed doesn't seem to matter. Confirmed cases include mixed breeds and purebreds. In addition, age doesn't seem to make a difference.

Reason behind the Name "Rodent Ulcer"

Years ago, when barn cats were getting the ulcers in large numbers, the name "rodent ulcer" was given to the sores. Farmers and their workers associated the ulcers with the fact that these cats were eating rodents, so the name rodent ulcer was given to the condition.

True Cause of Rodent Ulcer

Realistically, no one is certain why some cats get the ulcers and some don't. There seems to be a link between the ulcers and allergens. Some cats may be suffering from reactions to the foods they eat, flea bites, mosquito bites or airborne allergens.

What is known is that many cats heal when they're removed from their usual environment. For an indoor/outdoor cat, moving the cat to being strictly indoors works. For others, a dosage of antibiotics helps. Because antibiotics do work in some cases, there is also a belief that some rodent ulcers involve a bacterial infection.

In 2005, the DVM Veterinary magazine released a report that cases of feline eosinophilic granuloma complex cases are linked to one of three causes:

Bartonella Infection

Bartonella infections also form lesions on the lips and in the mouth. Your veterinarian should check to make sure the ulcers are not caused by the Bartonella infection. If tests are positive, medications such as azithromycin are effective at killing the organism.

Medications Used to Treat Rodent Ulcers

Many cats with rodent ulcers are given anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids and an antibiotic like penicillin or amoxicillin. Often, these medications cure the ulcers and keep them from reoccurring for upwards of a year.

Some veterinarians have had success treating rodent ulcers with essential fatty acid supplements. If you want to avoid prescription medications, talk to your vet about the benefits of these supplements.

Changing Your Cat's Environment

As the ulcers cause the cat no pain, you can work on pinpointing the allergen and removing it from the cat's diet or surroundings. Cats may lick the ulcer, excessively creating more inflammation than the actual ulcer. If there are fleas inside or outside your home, get rid of them. Provide your cat with a topical flea repellent like Frontline or Advantage to keep fleas away.

If the allergen involves dust or pollen, consider getting an air filtration system for your home. Place it in rooms where your cat tends to spend the most time. Tabletop filtration systems often remove enough pollen or dust to make a difference to your cat.

If you feed your cat a less expensive, low quality food, consider switching to a holistic option. Avoid foods with corn, soy and wheat products, common allergens, and look for pure protein sources over byproducts.