Pemphigus is a rare skin disease in cats but because of the spectacular nature of the clinical symptoms, is often studied extensively by veterinarians. It is the most common autoimmune disease in cats, compared with lupus erythematosus[1].

Pemphigus begins as a reactive antibody response to Desmoglein 1. The desmogleins are a family of cadherins consisting of proteins which form desmosomes, molecules responsible for intercellular adhesions. Autoantibodies attack intercellular matrices, resulting in cell lysis, release of inflammatory cytokines and disruption of organ function.

This disease is one of the bullous diseases (adopted from human medicine). The primary lesion is a pustule which is very fragile because of the thin epidermis of dogs and cats, and so more common crusts are observed which can be secondary infected. Cats show a typical distribution of the lesions which is also followed by this cat: bridge of nose, periocular area, pinnae, nail beds (sometimes all, sometimes only a few) and perimammal areas. These regions are rich in Desmoglein I[1].

Four variants of Pemphigus have been reported in cats:

  • Pemphigus foliaceous/erythematosus
  • Pemphigus vulgaris
  • Focal acantholytic dyskeratosis



  1. ↑ August, JR (2006) Consultations in feline internal medicine. Vol 5. Elsevier Saunders, Philadelphia. pp:261

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