Long-term steroid use causes additional side effects. If your cat is prescribed steroids for more than three months, he could develop skin problems, including feline acne and a thinning coat. His wound-healing ability may deteriorate, and he may be more susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections. Hard calcium deposits known as calcinosis cutis might appear on his skin. Some cats develop diabetes resulting from long-term steroid use. Nearly one-third of cats receiving long-term steroids experience urinary tract infections, although they might seem asymptomatic since the medication suppresses pain and inflammation. Your vet likely will perform a urinalysis regularly on your pet to detect potential infection.
Feline leukemia virus can cause cancers of both the blood and lymphoid system in cats. The virus is occasionally transmitted from an infected queen to her kittens before birth but is more commonly acquired from close contact with infected cats, which shed the virus in saliva, urine and feces. If your cat is infected, he or she can pass the infection to other cats. The infection is not transmissible to people. Similarly feline immunodeficiency virus, which is similar to HIV in people, only affects cats and cannot infect people or other animals such as dogs.
My 6 year old cat has been on a long term prednisone direct injection treatment for the past 5 years due to her oral autoimmune disease. My veterinarian and I decided this was a better option, due to her young age at diagnosis, than the typical solution of removing all of her teeth. Her shots are infrequent (~every 8-12 weeks) to reduce the occurrence of side effects or long term damage from the steroids. The effect has been amazing! She went from constantly lethargic to playful in a matter of days and has remained that way. To date she has only lost 3 teeth which is impressive considering the other option of having them removed. It means frequent visits to the vet’s office and monitoring but it is well worth it for her improved quality of life.