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Skin Biopsy / Skin Cancer

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
If Mattie doesn't respond to the next round of antibiotics (2-3 weeks, depending) + corticosteroid cream for her chin acne (she's had the blackheads ever since I got her in the beginning of October, it's been pus-filled infected acne since Thanksgiving), the vet wants to do a biopsy of the skin on her chin from 2-3 different areas. She said that wounds like Mattie's that don't heal even with aggressive treatment could be skin cancer.

Does anyone have any experience with this with their own cats? I was surprised that the vet wanted to do this. I didn't ask how much $$ it will cost, any thoughts on that? (It doesn't matter though).

If it *is* cancer (and at this point, I'm having a hard time believing that it is), what does that mean for Mattie?

post #2 of 15
It would be very rare for her to have cancer, but it is certainly possible. I have performed skin biopsies on a cat with a similar condition, but he was also positive for Feline Leukemia, so we were expecting cutaneous lymphoma. He did not have cancer however.

I would keep the kitty on antibiotics for three weeks, and if you don't see an improvement, definately get the biopsies. They are simple, and usually diagnostic (although not always). If your kitty has cancer, it will likely be cutaneous lymphoma, but you will need to talk to a veterinary oncologist to know what her long term prognosis will be.

I wouldn't worry too much for now. Its not fair to you or your kitty to spend the next month worrying when it could just be a deep/resistant infection.
post #3 of 15
What kind of bowls do you use to feed out of?? I had cats that had that happen too, it turned out the bowls I was using were causing it! *WHOOPZ*
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by glitch View Post
What kind of bowls do you use to feed out of?? I had cats that had that happen too, it turned out the bowls I was using were causing it! *WHOOPZ*
Stainless steel. This is usually the case for feline acne and was the very first question asked by my vet 5 visits ago. I wish it were that simple for her.

post #5 of 15
Sometimes when we treat babies at work (i am a preemie nurse) it takes what seems like forever and several different treatments to cure skin infections.

It's so frustrating when it takes a long time to find out what is wrong.

I hope your purr baby is better soon and no cancer!
post #6 of 15
I was reading posts yesterday and saw a paragraph in one of Pookie-poo's posts that could be very, very important for you. She wrote:

For what it's worth, all three of my cats are allergic to something in the Purina One, which gave them all open, weeping, purulent, chin acne. Antibiotics, creams and washes didn't cure it, or even help it. The only thing that made it go away, was to discontinue feeding it.
Link to her post:

Food allergy is a very real possibility with chin acne, I've seen it for myself, so please do think about this and start working with the diet.

Info that mentions food allergy and other allergies:



With my cat too the chin acne cleared up after I figured out which food she was allergic to. But I wondered if I could have been mistaken about the connection, so I let her have the same food again. Well, the acne returned - and then cleared up again when I stopped feeding the same food. I'm convinced now that the food connection is no myth.

I hope you can solve Mattie's problem so you can stop wondering/worrying about skin cancer for once and for all.
post #7 of 15
Stimpy had a really nasty case of chin acne a couple years ago. It took a couple different treatments before it cleared up. And we use ceramic bowls that get run through the dishwasher daily, fresh bowls at each meal.

No experience with skin cancer, but Stimpy had a mole removed and sent for testing (it was benign). Raven had a biopsy done and sent in for testing last may. It was less expensive than a dental each time. But it did cost around $70 for the University to test it.

I hope that it's not skin cancer.
post #8 of 15
Lilly is going through EXACTLY what Mattie is. Lilly's acne started in the middle of October. She's now about to start on her second round of antibiotics and Silavdene cream. Although the swelling of her chin is gone, there are still horrible scabs which bleed. She's starting to run from me now because she thinks my only function in life is to mess with her chin - which she hates.

The vet and I have already tried the food allergy route and have mostly ruled that out. Her bowls are clear glass, changed out twice a day. We're now down to thinking it may be stress related due to Forrest the kitten. I've used Feliway diffusers, Feliway spray, Rescue Remedy and have been putting Forrest in the back half of the house at night so she has alone time with my Husband and I for sleeping. None of this has helped. I'm hoping the change in antibiotics will work. We're really at our wits end. The only positive note is that there is a slight bit of hair growing back on her chin in the spots where her hair had fallen out. She also seems to feel ok, eating well and still likes to play and is frisky.

My vet hasn't recommended a biopsy yet...but that may be next. Our poor babies - I wish I could wave a magic wand and make them all better.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for your support! I have a hard time believing that she has cancer, but at the same time I am weary of even 'rare' chances becuase a 30-year-old friend of mine was just diagnosed with an ultra rare form of ovarian cancer. So I don't care about odds, I'm a worrier even if it's a bit irrational.

The antibiotics were doing really well and her red bumps were going away (yay!!!). She started them last Friday. This was until yesterday, and now her chin looks worse again. She is taking Clavamox 2x a day and then also Animax ointment on her chin 2-3x a day.

The *only* thing that I haven't ruled out is a food allergy (well, "only" isn't the right word. It could be some fungal thing I guess, but I mean I've ruled out stress (for the most part), her bowls, etc.). Violet has been very helpful in sending me links, and I am just trying to get started with going down that route. I asked my vet about the food allergy business and she said it would be rare for her to have a food allergy that only exhibited itself on her chin and not elsewhere on her body. I am going to start feeding her the Natural Balance Allergy formulas to see if that helps, I don't know what to do about her dry food. I've read that fatty acids and Vitamin E can improve the skin, so I am going to use more fish formulas (I used to avoid them because of UTI prevention). BUT this is the same vet's office that highly advocates dry food....so....

I have 2 more weeks to see how the antibiotics play out.

New Questions:
1. Is a skin scraping the same thing as a skin biopsy? If they are different, how so? I'm wondering if there is another way they can look at her skin without doing a biopsy.
2. Can I ask my vet for an allergy panel, with a blood sample? Is that how they do it? Going through food by food and eliminating one thing at a time just sounds like a slow and looong process. If that's how it's done, how much is that about?

AudioCat - I know *exactly* how you feel!! When Mattie sees me, she runs very fast. It's the only time of the day when she gets any exercise. She too thinks that my sole purpose is to put stuff on her chin. This has been going on since the day I adopted her, but it's gotten significantly worse (i.e. red bumps, before it was just the blackheads which aren't painful for her) since Thanksgiving. It has really affected our relationship, and that makes me sad. I hope that when I figure all this out for her, she can start to trust me again and not see me as a threat.
post #10 of 15
UMM has a basic scrapping and cultureing of the pus been done?? okay my wording may be off
post #11 of 15
Hi Sakura!

My heart is breaking for you, I’m so sorry you are going through all this worry and uncertainty with your kitty. Whether your kitty’s chin acne is caused by a very severe food allergy (the kind Pookie-poo mentioned in one of her posts and I quoted for you in an earlier post in this thread) or something else, perhaps at this point it would be best to get help with diagnosis and treatment from a specialist. The specialist in this case would be a veterinary dermatologist. Dermatologists are highly trained specialists whose work when it comes to diagnosing and treating skin diseases in animals is invaluable. They have the kind of specialized training regular vets don’t have and that’s why at one point when there are questions about diagnosis and treatment doesn’t seem to work, regular vets send their patients to a dermatologist.
Depending on where you live, there may be a vet school in your state and you could call there for further advice about finding a dermatologist. You can also ask your regular vet for a referral to a dermatologist.

A skin scraping is a very simple procedure that is done at your regular vet’s office. A biopsy is a completely different matter. This article will give you an idea how important it is to do it right:
So please be very careful if you decide to have a biopsy done.

I don’t believe you’ve mentioned anything about it in your earlier posts, so please let me ask you now, is your kitty FeLV/FIV negative? If she was tested, do you know how long ago and where the testing was done? Because of the severe skin condition I would like to suggest that, even if you have negative test results, please ask your vet to redo the tests before you go on to see a specialist. The results of these tests are enormously important when you are dealing with a difficult to treat health problem.

I honestly don’t know whether testing for food allergies would be helpful or not. Food can cause an immunological response a blood test or skin test may be able to pick up, but it can also cause a non-immunological response. With that you only see the health problem it’s causing and avoiding it (the food or a particular ingredient) is the only thing that will make the problem go away. When it does, that’s your “test resultâ€.

Also, with testing there is always the possibility of false negatives or false positives. Testing can be very helpful but, unfortunately, it’s not foolproof.
Starting out by avoiding a food (or a group of ingredients) that is most likely to cause a heath problem is one of the easiest ways of getting to the bottom of problems that might be caused by allergy. Grains can be tested as a group, but you would want to test protein sources one by one.

The troubling fact about food allergy is that it can affect any part of the body. And to make things even more confusing, the same kind of food or ingredient can cause different health problems in different cats. Allergy just doesn’t play by the rules, with allergy, literally anything goes. For example, food that causes chin acne in one cat, can cause bladder inflammation (without bacteria) in another cat. Food can also cause ear infections, chronic vomiting, diarrhea, itchiness around the neck and head, skin inflammation around the eyes, hair loss above the eyes, just to name a few of the problems.

Fatty acids and vitamin E can be very helpful, but if a cat is allergic to fish, fatty acids made of fish oil will make a skin problem worse. You’ll find good information in this article:


When my cat had chin acne I used vitamin E and I thought it helped her some, but complete relief came only when I stopped feeding her the food she was allergic to. (In her case it was fish.)

I don’t know how helpful you’ll find all this, hopefully, a little bit maybe. I’m sending you many good wishes for peace of mind and I really hope you’ll find the solution for Mattie’s problem very soon.
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Sharky - no, it hasn't. You would think that they would want to do that before a biopsy? At the last vet appointment, the vet opened one of the zits to get the puss out and to look at the puss. She seemed happy/relieved that it was white puss. (I *hate* that word, it makes me cringe).

Violet - When I adopted her in October, they said that all of the cats they adopt are Felv/FIV tested, but it wasn't on her vet paperwork when I adopted her so I had my new vet do the combo check just to be sure. It came back negative. What are the chances of a false negative?
post #13 of 15
I would do a scrap and a CULTURE ( this may have to go to a outside lab)...

Cant answer for violet but there is a decent false % on those tests
post #14 of 15
Violet - When I adopted her in October, they said that all of the cats they adopt are Felv/FIV tested, but it wasn't on her vet paperwork when I adopted her so I had my new vet do the combo check just to be sure. It came back negative. What are the chances of a false negative?
It's always a wise precaution to repeat these tests three months later if you don’t know anything about a new cat's past. (This applies to all of us, of course, not just you.) Two negative tests 90 days apart will give you enough proof that you have nothing to worry about. However, with serious long-term health issues vets will redo these tests even years later, and even if a cat has been an indoor cat all those years.

I’m not sure I would worry about a false negative, but I would worry that my cat could have picked up the disease and the test was done too soon for it show up in the test results. That’s why I would ask for a retest. There is no other way to be absolutely sure your cat is indeed free of these diseases.
If she tests negative again, this will also reduce the chances of cancer at such a young age, because there is a connection between that and these two important infectious diseases. With certain health problems infectious disease is one of the first things a vet will be looking for.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
I just wanted to post a little update about how Mattie is doing with her acne.

Last Friday I left the antibiotics (Clavamox) out of the fridge on accident for about 18 hours I've been continuing to give it to her but it's probably not as effective. My vet doesn't open until tomorrow so I am going to get some more tomorrow and then probably will have to start the whole course of antibiotics over again.

I have been using Rescue Remedy for the past few days. I just put 2 drops in her water bowl (I got rid of the water fountain for now, it's plastic). I don't know if it's helping her acne, but it SURE is making her calmer and less stressed out. I am very impressed with this. The Feliway diffusers weren't helping her stress, or not that I could tell. I do really feel that her acne is stress related and I'm hoping that the Rescue Remedy will help.
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