Disorder - Ehlers-Danlos syndromeOrgan Systems Involved
Cutaneous asthenia; Collagen dysplasia; Fragile skin syndrome; Dermatosparaxis
Cats often present with skin wounds as a result of minor trauma or hernias. The element of skin that provides strength is collagen, which normally forms long, cylindrical fibres that lie parallel to the skin’s surface. In this disease, the collagen fibres are shortened, and lie in irregular patterns. The skin is therefore fragile and tears easily, but is able to heal normally. However, prominent scars form after healing. The skin may also be extremely stretchy, hanging in folds around the cat’s chest and abdomen. The most commonly reported sign is tearing of the skin as a result of the cat scratching at itself. Affected cats may also be susceptible to the development of hernias. In humans, eleven different forms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome are recognised. In dogs and cats, this disease is more commonly referred to as cutaneous asthenia. Affected cats may live a normal lifespan if kept free from trauma.
Medical and surgical: treatment varies with presenting signs. Small wounds generally heal well on their own, but larger wounds may require stitching and support. It has been suggested that cats have their claws bandaged or removed to prevent further self trauma. These animals should be desexed, not just to prevent future generations being affected, but due to the potential trauma of mating and giving birth.