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Feline Sebaceous Adenitis

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)


|January 2017

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This report reviewed a feline case of sebaceous adenitis, a rare dermatosis in cats, and its treatment with a topical fatty acid supplement. A 5-year-old neutered male Norwegian forest cat was presented for a 5-month history of progressive scaling, which began on the face and neck. Initial diagnostics failed to identify a cause; over the next 12 months, clinical signs worsened.

Histopathology revealed multifocal, lymphocytic mural folliculitis, perifollicular dermatitis, moderate hyperkeratosis, and sebaceous glands that were either absent or effaced by lymphocytic infiltrates. Sebaceous adenitis with concurrent mural folliculitis was diagnosed, and cyclosporine therapy was recommended. The owners declined because of difficulty with oral administration and concerns about potential side effects. Trial therapy with a topical application containing fatty acids, essential oils, and other ingredients was initiated. Clinical response to therapy was excellent but incomplete. When therapy lapsed, there was a severe relapse of clinical signs along with fever and lethargy. Treatment for clinical signs resolved the fever and anorexia, and reinstitution of the topical essential fatty acid resulted in a good but incomplete response. Persistent mild periocular and perinasal adherent and mild generalized surface scaling persisted through the last follow-up.


This is an interesting case report from several perspectives. First, sebaceous adenitis is uncommon in cats, and facial and nasal crusting is not usually a sign of this disease. Second, the treatment of choice for sebaceous adenitis is cyclosporine, which the owners declined. Interestingly, the cat responded to a commercial topical treatment. The case report did not specify the frequency of application, but this commentator recommends using it q1-2wk. Third, this treatment was proven beneficial by the relapse of clinical signs when treatment was stopped.

Although cyclosporine is the treatment of choice, complete resolution of clinical signs is uncommon. This topical treatment may be an alternative and/or adjunct treatment for sebaceous adenitis in other animals.—Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD

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