The last week when I was taking pictures of Stevie, I thought I noticed his tongue sticking out.
I remember thinking “that’s strange, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed Stevie stick his tongue out while we’re playing or cuddling.” At most, Stevie drools when you pet him, but even then I’ve never seen him stick out his tongue.
I kept taking pictures of Stevie because he was so invested in watching the birds, but as I zoomed into one picture I realized that I wasn’t seeing Stevie’s tongue. I continued to let Stevie watch the birds and instead sat on the couch waiting for him to be done.
When Stevie was ready, he joined me on the couch and sat on my chest. It was a perfect time to do an oral examination and I realized that Stevie had some sort of swelling on his chin.
It didn’t really seem to bother Stevie if I touched the swelling, and he didn’t seem to be scratching at it, so I didn’t think it was painful to him. Not only that, it seemed like the majority of the sore was on the inside of Stevie’s mouth making it extremely easy to miss unless he was yawning or opening his mouth for some other reason.
I texted Stevie’s grandma to let her know that I found the sore and asked her if she had noticed it when she swung by. She responded in shock and stated that she had not seen it and that it must have been something new.
So I began looking up what Stevie might have and came across Feline Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex, which looked very similar to what Stevie had.
Concluding that this is the condition Stevie was afflicted with, we’ve taken him to the vet to receive treatment. He is currently on his 3rd day of treatment and the sore is shrinking substantially. His levels of energy are quite high and we’re glad he’s in remission.
The following is all the information you will need to know as a pet parent who is going through a similar circumstance with EGC.
WHAT IS FELINE EOSINOPHIC GRANULOMA COMPLEX (EGC)
Commonly underdiagnosed, Eosinophilic Granuloma complex is a common disease that causes swollen nodules, red lesions on a cat’s face, mouth, neck, limbs, belly or groin area and may even cause ulcers.
It is believed that all forms of EGC come from allergies and that there is no cure, other than preventing your cat to be exposed to the allergen. Though this is true, there are a number of medications used to help reduce symptoms and ensure that the cat is not left uneasy or uncomfortable.
WHAT DOES EOSINOPHIC MEAN?
An eosinophic is actually a type of white blood cell. These blood cells are commonly associated with allergic responses.
Eosinophilic is also closely related to parasites as the eosinophil counts go up when a cat has been affected by worms or fleas. The inflamation you see is a sign that the body is preparing measures to prevent an attack.
WHAT DOES GRANULOMA MEAN?
A granuloma is classified as a solid grouping of inflammatory cells. These cells come together in either a lump or a solid structure.
COMMON ALLERGENS THAT SPARK EGC
It is believed that EGC is commonly sparked by allergies to a food bowl or container in which food is being held. The most common cooperate being plastic dishware.
Plastic dishes have also been linked to forms of cat acne and other irritating skin conditions.
Though porcelain dishes are usually considered cleaner for cats to use and are often looked at as the ideal feeding tool, some cats have been known to actually have an allergy to porcelain.
Other allergins include fleas or even new food proteins, so it’s going to be extremely important that you’re keeping a close eye on your cat’s behaviour and habits.
If you are concerned that your cat may have fleas, ensure that you talk to the vet about getting a flea treatment or begin by washing your cat with Dawn Original Dish Soap. More information on that here.
It is extremely beneficial for your cat to be checked by the vet as EGC can also be a symptom of a bacterial skin infection, a fungal infection (such as ringworm) or even a viral infection (such as FIV or Leukemia). Although these causes are less likely than the EGC being caused by an allergy, it is still a good idea to check whether or not your cat has tested negative for each, especially if the symptoms are reoccurring.
IS EGC ITCHY?
Though it can be easy to assume that EGC is itchy or uncomfortable for cats, most cats are actually oblivious to the fact that they have it. Now, that doesn’t mean you’re going to want to leave this little sucker to heal for itself.
EGC can become more inflamed, especially if left untreated. EGC can also become inflamed if the cat scratching their face frequently or chooses to lick the sore caused by the disease. This is due to the sandpaper texture on a cat’s tongue.
WHAT HAPPENS IF EGC IS LEFT UNTREATED?
As mentioned, the worry is extra inflammation. If the ulcer continues to develop it may become an indolent ulcer, which causes a depression (on the lips) or sometimes even an erosion of the lips and skin in the surrounding area.
These depressions may also appear on the roof of the mouth, upper lip or even the back of the throat.
Unlike mild or early cases of EGC, this stage tends to be extremely itchy and very painful. This stage may also cause surrounding lymph nodes to become enlarged or inflamed.
TESTS THAT ARE COMMONLY DONE
In most cases, a vet will be able to diagnose EGC upon visual inspection. In cases where EGC is considered extreme or the cause is uncertain, lesions may be examined under a microscope.
Although it is fairly rare, a cytologist may review a biopsy sample to give better information about the condition.
EGC does not have a single treatment, however, treatment may be chosen dependant on what it was discovered in the vet visit. Most treatments will include a steroid to shrink the lesion and/or an antibiotic to help fight anything the immune system is fighting and prevent future infection.
In our case, since the vet was unable to pinpoint the true cause of the EGC we were prescribed two weeks’ worth of Otizole (a steroid) and Depo-Medrol (an injectable antibiotic), which was administered by the vet.
WHAT WE THINK CAUSED IT FOR STEVIE
As mentioned the vet is uncertain what caused this to happen to Stevie, though he would like to reexamine Stevie in another week to see how the steroids have worked.
The vet gave us a similar list to what we knew causes could be, though he did add that trauma to the lip (such as running into a door) can also cause EGC.
I will admit that there have been times I’ve checked on Stevie and the beds, floor mats and blankets have been splayed around the room. So there is a good chance that Stevie ran into something, but that doesn’t mean that we can completely rule out another underlying condition.
Since I am not Stevie’s owner I have relayed the following information: until it is confirmed what is the cause of Stevie’s symptoms it is a good idea to place Stevie on a single type of food (or at least a controlled diet versus a rotational) and it is also a good idea to remove any porcelain bowls for the time being.
Though I will not be actively trying to find the factor that caused this to happen to Stevie, I will still be checking up to see the progress the vet has made in regards to what the underlying cause is and what further aftercare will look like.
IS THERE ANY EXTRA AFTERCARE OR TREATMENT AFTER THE EGC IS GONE?
Absolutely, since EGC is only considered a symptom it will come back time and time again if the underlying condition hasn’t been dealt with.
In cases where the underlying condition is a longterm disease such as FIV or Feline Leukemia, symptoms are often monitored to ensure that they do not progress or get worse.
In cases that EGC was caused by an allergen, some tests can be done to help figure out what the possible allergen is, though a lot of the work will be done by you. It is best to be aware of all of the ingredients in your cat’s food, what you’re feeding your cat out of and how often your cat’s eating apparatuses are cleaned.
If your cat suffers from conditions such as acne, make sure that you are washing out their food bowls regularly and that you are checking their chin for any black dots.
Begin talking to your vet about feeding a hypoallergenic diet or talking to them about problem proteins. Take note that even if your cat has eaten the same food for years, they may still develop an allergy to said food.
Though a vet diet is not always the only choice, it does help you factor out a number of ingredients and will help your vet and you work towards the solution. After your vet and you have concluded what the potential allergen is, you may then slowly re-introduce a limited ingredient diet that is not vet-specific.
CAN ECG CAUSE MY CAT TO DROOL?
Absolutely, and this is something that happened with Stevie. Dependant on the placement and severity of the ECG a cat may drool, though this shouldn’t be a problem.
If you take notice of your cat drooling more than usual, it would be helpful to take your cat to the vet to ensure that the condition isn’t getting worse, but otherwise, your cat’s drooling behaviour should return back to normal after treatment has been facilitated.
Though the Eosinophilic Granuloma complex is not considered fatal, there are some precautions you’re going to want to take to ensure that it gets dealt with quickly and painlessly.
Note that no at-home treatments should be used to help solve this problem. Whether it be for anti-inflammatory or as a pre-biotic, all treatment should be facilitated by the vet as EGC is always a symptom of an underlying condition.
It is extremely important that you have a medical history as well as a husbandry history that includes what foods your cat has been eating, what they have been eating from and whether or not they have been in any accidents as of late.
Steroids should never be prescribed for more than 2-weeks at a time and should never be given further than instructed from the vet. This will ensure that there are no complications such as skin thinning that are caused by the medication.
EGC is unfortunately not a “one-time” symptom and may appear regularly if the underlying cause is not dealt with. EGC should not be treated regularly unless suggested by the vet while trying to figure out what the underlying cause is.
EGC is not a condition that can be left “untreated” and will get more severe as time goes on. While the first stages tend to be painless and benign, there is the risk that the sores will grow in size, burst or get infected. In cases like these a surgery may be required or a heavier dosage of certain anti-inflammatories, steroids and/or antibiotics.
EGC can also be a sign of dental disease such as gingivitis. That being said, it is extremely important that you are getting your cat’s teeth checked regularly to help prevent the development of any dental disease. You can also look into brushing your cat’s teeth or purchasing chew toys that will help keep your cat’s teeth cleaned. It is important to note that the majority of cats begin developing dental disease by the age of 3.
So, pet parents, I’m curious, have any of your cats gotten EGC? What did you have to do for them? What ended up being the problem and is it solved? Let me know in the comments below!