Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy

or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

PetMD Seal

Thin or Fragile Skin in Cats


Feline Skin Fragility Syndrome in Cats


Feline skin fragility syndrome has many possible causes, but mainly, it is characterized by extremely fragile and often thin skin. This condition tends to occur in aging cats that may have concurrent hyperadrenocorticism (chronic overproduction of steroid hormones in the body), diabetes mellitus, or excessive use of progesterone. A small number of cats have had no biochemical alterations. It is a naturally-occurring disease that tends to be recognized in aged cats, although physician-caused cases have no age predilection. Also, there is no breed or gender predilection associated with the disease.


Symptoms and Types


  • Progressive hair loss (not always present)
  • Weight loss, lusterless coat, poor appetite, lack of energy
  • Skin is thin and tears with normal handling
  • The skin rarely bleeds upon tearing
  • Multiple lacerations (both old and new)
  • Partial to complete hair loss on the body
  • Rat tail, ear folding, pot-belly appearance




  • Hyperadrenocorticism
  • Physician-caused: secondary to excessive corticosteroid or progestational drug use
  • Diabetes mellitus: rare, unless associated with hyperadrenocorticism
  • Idiopathic (unknown cause) 





Your veterinarian will want to rule out cutaneous asthenia (a disorder of the connective-tissue), as well as cancer. will need to give a thorough history of your pet's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition, such as whether your cat has been given progestogen. Approximately 80 percent of cats with hyperadrenocorticism will also have diabetes mellitus. Any underlying metabolic disease will also need to be ruled out.


Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your pet, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Abdominal ultrasonography, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging may also be useful in diagnosing fragile skin.




Many patients are debilitated by this condition and will require supportive care. If the diagnosis is hyperadrenocorticism, surgical removal of one or both of the adrenal glands is the preferred treatment. If the diagnosis is pituitary tumors, radiation therapy, which has had variable success in the treatment of pituitary tumors, may be the recommended treatment. Medication will depend on the underlying cause, and on the treatment plan laid out by your veterinarian. Hyperadrenocorticism will also have associated diabetes. You will need to closely monitor your cat if this is the case, and work closely with your veterinarian on the appropriate adjustments to the insulin treatment in order to prevent hypoglycemia when corticosteroid hormone levels fall.


Living and Management


Patients are often quite debilitated, making any form of treatment risky; close monitoring is required in all cases.



Related Articles

Skin Bumps (Granulomatous Dermatoses) in Cats

Sterile nodular/granulomatous dermatoses are diseases in which the primary lesions or masses of tissue, are solid, elevated, and greater than...

Stretchy, Saggy, Painful Skin in Cats

Feline cutaneous asthenia (FCA), also known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, is a disease characterized by deficient levels of collagen, the protein...

Fungal Disease (Sporotrichosis) of the Skin in Cats

Sporothrix schenckii is a fungus that has the potential to infect the skin, respiratory system, bones and sometimes the brain, causing a diseased...

Degenerative Skin Disorder (Necrolytic Dermatitis) in Cats

Superficial necrolytic dermatitis is characterized by the deterioration and death of skin cells. High levels of the hormone glucagon in the blood...

Around the Web