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Feline Allergic Skin Disease

Atopic dermatitis (AD) remains less well defined in cats than in dogs. Pruritus, or itching, is the most consistent clinical feature, although the lesion distribution is less well defined in the cat. The presentation is more commonly of one or more cutaneous reaction patterns, including, but not limited to, pruritus of the head, neck and pinna, military dermatitis, self-induced alopecia and eosinophilic granuloma complex lesions. Feline AD is a clinical diagnosis based on a compatible history, physical findings and exclusion of all other pruritic dermatoses. Similar to dogs, detection of allergen-specific IgE in cat serum merely supports a diagnosis of feline atopy. This study compared a rapid screening immunoassay with a complete panel serum allergen specific IgE assay in healthy cats with no history of skin disease and in atopic cats. Findings indicated there was no significant difference in the presence of allergen-specific IgE in atopic versus healthy cats with either assay. Neither assay should be used on its own for initial diagnosis of AD in cats.  This study did, however, reveal a strong agreement (88% of serum samples) between the two assays, independent of disease status. Agreement was still notable for all allergen groups when individual allergen groups were considered. The study supported previous conclusions that allergen-specific IgE in serum is by itself insufficient for the diagnosis of feline AD.  [VT]