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Skin Problems in Cats

2021-08-24  PetsCareTip

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Cat Skin Problems

If your cat's dignified poses have given way to constant scratching and licking, a skin problem may be to blame. Cats are susceptible to skin infections, parasites, allergies, and many other conditions commonly seen in people. WebMD has compiled images of one of the most common feline skin issues.

Feline Acne

They may not have to worry about a prom night disaster, but cats get pimples, too. Feline acne typically appears on and around a cat's chin. Possible causes include stress, poor grooming, a reaction to medication, an underlying skin condition, or even the plastic bowl you put out with their food or water. Your veterinarian may recommend a specialized shampoo or gel to clear up the breakout, or antibiotics if a bacterial infection accompanies the acne.

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Bacterial Infections

In many cases, bacterial skin infections develop as a result of another skin problem.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are tiny parasites that are drawn to the wax and oils inside a cat’s ear. Bacterial infections may be treated with antibiotics, but it is important to address any underlying skin conditions to prevent a recurrence.

Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are caused by a fungus and are also more likely in cats that have other medical problems. The ear is one of the most common spots for a yeast infection. Symptoms may include a black or yellow discharge, redness of the ear flap, and persistent scratching of the ear. Yeast infections respond well to treatment with antifungal medicine, but be sure to get a diagnosis from a veterinarian before using anything on your cat.

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Ringworm

Ringworm is another type of fungus that affects cats, especially if they are under age 1. It may cause circular lesions on a cat’s head, ears, and forelimbs as well as any other part of the body. The skin around these lesions is often flaky and bald. Ringworm is usually highly contagious and can spread to other pets in the home, as well as to people. Treatment depends on severity, but may include specialized shampoos, ointments, or oral medications.

Sporotrichosis

Yet another fungus -- although rare -- sporotrichosis produces small, hard skin lesions that may leak fluid. Sporotrichosis is considered to be a public health concern, because the fungus is known to spread from cats to humans. People with a compromised immune system are especially vulnerable. For these reasons, cats with sporotrichosis ought to be treated promptly, and care usuallygivers should be meticulous about hygiene.

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Allergic Dermatitis

Cats can have allergic reactions to grooming products, food, and environmental irritants, such as pollen or flea bites. Scratching the head or neck is a common sign of foods allergies. There are also products that may be given every other month as well as a collar that can provide protection for up to 8 months. Allergies can also cause hair loss or skin lesions anywhere on the body, including the belly. There are a variety of treatments to soothe itchy skin associated with allergies, but avoiding exposure to the irritants will be the best strategy.

Shedding and Hair Loss (Alopecia)

If you live with cats, you learn to cope with cat hair on your own favorite sweater. But if you notice your cat is losing more curly hair than usual or has bald patches, see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Abnormal hair loss can be a warning sign of several illnesses, and also fleas, stress, allergies, or poor nutrition.

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Fleas

The idea of tiny insects feeding on the blood of your cat may make you shudder, but fleas are a very common problem. You can look for them or their droppings in a cat's coat, especially where the fur is pale. Other signs of a flea infestation are persistent scratching, crusty skin lesions, and thinning hair above the base of the tail. To eradicate fleas, you’ll need to treat your cat as well as your furniture, bedding, and rugs.

What has been the gold standard of flea control is a monthly flea prevention protocol. It not only kills fleas on your cat, but those in your home should eventually be eliminated as they fail to reproduce. Monthly control, though, is not the only option. Symptoms of other allergies include chewing on the paws or base of the tail, or scratching the ears. Talk to your vet about what would be best for your cat. And remember: Treating all pets in the house is necessary for whatever plan you use to be effective. For example, feline acne can make a cat's hair follicles more vulnerable to infection, resulting in folliculitis. As they feed, they cause inflammation that can lead to a serious skin or ear infection. Signs of ear mites include excessive scratching of the ears, head shaking, and a strong odor and a dark discharge from the ears. Suspect ear mites when both ears are affected. Mites can be treated with a topical product prescribed by your vet. Ear mites are also contagious to other animals.

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Lice

Lice are parasites that feed on dry skin. They are usually commonly found on young, neglected cats and often go unnoticed. Large infestations can lead to scratching, restlessness, unusual coat appearance, and hair loss. Like mites, lice can be treated with a topical solution. Because lice are species-specific, you do not need to worry about getting lice from your cat.

Stud Tail

Also called tail gland hyperplasia, stud tail refers to overactive glands on the top of the tail. These glands produce waxy excretions that result in hair loss and crusty lesions. In severe cases, the condition can make the tail vulnerable to bacterial infections. Neutering may eliminate the problem in male cats. Other treatment options include diligent grooming of the tail and the use of specially formulated shampoos.

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Eosinophilic Granuloma

If your cat has raised ulcers or lesions on the nose or lips, they may be having a type of allergic reaction known as an eosinophilic granuloma. This reaction can occur anywhere on the body, but is most common on the face, pads of the feet, and thighs. Food allergies or fleas are sometimes to blame, but the lesions can also result from bacterial infections. Treatment depends upon what will be causing the reaction.

Skin Tumors

A lump in your cat's skin is not necessarily cancer, but should be checked by a veterinarian. Older cats and those with white ears and heads are especially susceptible to skin cancer. To confirm a diagnosis of cancer, a biopsy is necessary. If the lump is small enough, a vet may recommend removing it entirely. For tumors that have not spread, this may be the only treatment needed.

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Dry, Flaky Skin

Like people, some cats get dry, flaky skin in the winter. It's usually nothing serious, but have your veterinarian take a look. Persistent dandruff may be a sign of poor nutrition, inadequate grooming, or an underlying medical problem. Special shampoos and supplements of omega-3 fatty acids can help treat feline dandruff.

Compulsive Grooming

Cats are known to be fastidious groomers, but sometimes they overdo it. Compulsive licking, chewing, or sucking on the skin may lead to irritation, infection, and thinning hair (a condition called psychogenic alopecia). Cats may groom compulsively in response to stress, such as for example moving into a new home, but they may also overgroom due to a medical problem such as arthritis. If this describes your cat, talk to your vet about stress reduction and behavior modification strategies which will help as well as address some underlying medical issues.

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When to See the Vet

Check with your veterinarian as soon since possible if you find any oddities on your own cat’s skin -- flaking, scaling, redness, or bald patches. Even if the epidermis looks fine, your cat ought to be examined if they are scratching, licking, or biting themselves excessively.


2021-08-24  PetsCareTip