A New Drug to Treat Itchy Feline Skin Condition

Uncontrolled feline allergic dermatitis can make a cat rip out her own hair.


A cat allergy, whether to something in the environment, something in the diet, or insects such as fleas, often plays out on the skin. A cat that has an allergic reaction can become chronically itchy to the point that all the licking, chewing, scratching, and biting at the uncomfortable spot(s) can cause her hair to come out. It can also cause something known as miliary dermatitis, a skin condition characterized by crusty lesions. (Miliary dermatitis is also known as scabby cat disease.) Often, an allergy causes the skin to become inflamed, too, among other reactions.

But feline allergic dermatitis, as the problem is known, just got easier to treat. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug called Modulis for Cats. It’s the first generic cyclosporine oral solution for felines. You squirt it in your pet’s mouth with a syringe — no cajoling your cat to take a pill.

Cyclosporine is both an immunosuppressant and an anti-inflammatory, so it stops the immune system from going into overdrive when a cat comes into contact with an allergen, tamping down on symptoms. The new drug contains the same concentration and dosage form as the brand name drug Atopic for Cats, which was approved in 2011. The generic version should be considerably less expensive.

Cyclosporine is a powerful pharmacologic. For that reason, people who administer the drug to their pet should make sure to avoid accidentally ingesting it. That means not eating or drinking while handling it. Those who give the drug to their cats should also take care to wash their hands after administering it. Cyclosporine lowers immunity (it’s a strong drug given to people who have had organ transplants to help them avoid rejecting the new tissue) and can make people more disposed to infections.

People who know they have a hypersensitivity to cyclosporine should avoid contact with Modulis for Cats altogether. Hypersensitivity is rare but can result in symptoms ranging from nausea to headaches, dizziness, and other problems.


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