A diagnostic approach to skin disease in geriatric cats
It is imperative to start with a complete and detailed patient history. The history should include where and when the lesions first started, whether or not the cat is pruritic, a thorough medication history of both long-term and newly administered medications, any progression or changes in the clinical signs, and any observations about the cat's systemic health (e.g. drinking and urination habits, appetite, weight loss, activity).
It is also important to remember that even though more aggressive diagnostics may be indicated in an older feline patient, common diseases still occur commonly in older cats. For example, even an older cat can develop lesions secondary to flea hypersensitivity if there is a break in the administration of flea control products or a change in the cat's environment. Routine monthly flea preventive is recommended for all cats, regardless of their age.CORE DIAGNOSTICS
Regardless of the initial presenting complaint, it is important to start the diagnostic investigation with these core dermatologic tests:
A dermatophyte culture is often warranted as a first-line diagnostic test in feline patients, especially if a cat is deemed to be at risk (e.g. indoor-outdoor lifestyle, new cat added to the household, interaction with other cats). Most of these tests can be performed during the initial examination. The results of these core diagnostics will directly affect treatment or recommendations for additional diagnostics.1