Skin Problems That Your Cat May Be Experiencing (and What You Can Do About It)
Do you think your cat might have a skin condition? If your cat is scratching or licking herself more excessively than she usually does when grooming, then she may be suffering from a skin condition.
This guide will give you some extra insight into the various types of skin problems cats can be prone to, and what you can do about them.
Feline acne is a skin condition that is most commonly found on and around a cat’s chin. When a cat has feline acne, the skin on her chin develops comedones, or blackheads, that can cause the chin to appear dirty. In some cases, the blackheads can develop into small abscesses, which will form large scabs when they erupt. If the problem isn’t treated, there is a risk that the cat could develop a secondary bacterial infection.
Feline acne can be caused by a wide range of factors, including stress, poor grooming, a reaction to medicine, dirty food and water dishes, or a totally separate underlying skin condition. In most cases, feline acne can be resolved by using a veterinarian-prescribed medicinal shampoo or topical gel. If a bacterial infection is diagnosed, then antibiotics (in addition to topical products containing benzoyl-peroxide or chlorhexidine) will also be prescribed.
If your cat spends time outdoors, or you have a dog that does, then there is always the chance that she could develop a flea infestation. Signs of a flea infestation include excessive scratching or biting, thinning hair, and crusty skin lesions. You will also notice tiny black “droppings” in areas where the fleas are biting your cat.
If your cat has fleas, then your veterinarian will prescribe a monthly flea prevention protocol. If you have other pets in the home, then they will also need to be treated in order to prevent the fleas from reproducing. You will also need to treat your furniture, carpet, and bedding with a flea control product.
If your cat’s ears are inflamed and have a blackish discharge and a strong odor, then she probably has ear mites. These pests are tiny parasites that live on the wax and oils in your cat’s ears. When a cat has ear mites, she will shake her head rigorously and scratch her ears excessively. To get rid of ear mites, it is best to use a veterinarian-prescribed topical product.
Bacterial Skin Infections
When a cat develops a bacterial skin infection, it is almost always caused by another skin problem, like feline acne. For this reason, it is important for the underlying cause of the infection to be resolved alongside the infection.
When a cat has a bacterial skin infection, the hair follicles in the affected area become inflamed and this leads to hair loss, scaling, and crusting, and in some cases, even ulcers. Bacterial skin infections can be treated using veterinarian-prescribed antibiotics (such as Enrofloxacin or Amoxicillin/Clavulanate), antibacterial topical products, and sometimes, silver sulfadiazine cream.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that can affect cats, especially those under one year of age. When a cat has ringworm, it will develop circular lesions on its head, ears, or forelimbs. The area around the lesion will usually become bald and flaky.
Because ringworm is highly contagious to humans, getting your cat treated is extremely important. Treatment typically includes oral anti-fungal medications (like Fluconazole), and vet-prescribed anti-fungal shampoos or ointments.
A yeast infection is another common fungal infection to affect cats, especially those that are already dealing with other health problems. This infection is most commonly seen around a cat’s ears. Symptoms include red and inflamed ear flaps, and a black or yellow discharge.
This condition can cause excessive scratching of the infected area, and as a result, hair loss can occur. Yeast infections are treated using vet-prescribed anti-fungal medications, shampoos, and/or topical ointments.
Like humans, cats can have allergic reactions to anything from food and grooming products to flea bites and pollen. When an allergic reaction occurs, a part of the cat’s body can lose its fur and break out in skin lesions. Treatment will depend on what is causing the cat’s allergic reaction.
In many cases, simply avoiding exposure to the irritant will reverse the condition, but it is always important to have a veterinarian look at your cat to ensure that she is having an allergic reaction to something, and not developing a more serious skin problem.
Eosinophilic granuloma is another allergic reaction that cats can experience, and it is most commonly caused by allergies to fleas or food. Typical signs include raised ulcers or lesions on the lips or nose, but they can also appear on the pads of the feet, the face, and the thighs. Like allergic dermatitis, treatment involves identifying and resolving the issue that’s causing the allergic reaction.
Sporotrichosis is a rare fungus (sporothrix schenckii) that produces small, hard skin lesions that may or may not leak fluid. Because this fungal infection can easily spread to humans, especially those with compromised immune systems, sporotrichosis is a recognized public health concern.
If you think your cat has sporotrichosis, you need to have her treated by your vet as soon as possible. The most common treatment is oral potassium iodide. Both the cat and her caregivers will have to be meticulous about hygiene to reduce the risk of transference.
Alopecia is a more serious form of shedding that results in your cat developing bald spots. While it may seem like a problem of its own, alopecia is actually a symptom of another underlying problem, like fleas, allergies, poor nutrition, or stress. Like allergic dermatitis, the underlying problem needs to be resolved in order to stop alopecia from progressing.
Dry, Flaking Skin
In the winter, cats can sometimes experience dry and flaking skin due to the drier-than-usual weather. But, dry skin can also be caused by poor nutrition or an underlying health concern. As a result, treatment is determined by the cause of the dry skin. In some cases, medicinal shampoos and Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are all that’s needed.
Tail Gland Hyperplasia
Tail gland hyperplasia is a skin condition that affects a cat’s tail. Also called stud tail, this condition causes the glands located on the top of the tail to become overactive and when this happens, they produce a waxy excretion that ultimately results in crusty lesions and hair loss, and an increased risk for developing a bacterial skin infection in the area.
Treatment involves using a vet-prescribed specialty shampoo and diligent grooming of the tail. In male cats, neutering will often eliminate this problem.
If your cat has a skin tumor, it is not necessarily cancerous. But, any time your cat develops a tumor on her skin, it should be checked out by your veterinarian, especially if your cat is older or has white ears or a white head. Your vet will perform a biopsy to determine whether or not the tumor is malignant or benign. If the tumor is small and it is the only one on your cat, then the veterinarian may recommend having it removed.
Skin Issues With Cats Require Veterinary Attention
Any time your cat shows signs of a skin problem, she needs to be seen by her veterinarian because the skin condition could be a side effect of a serious health problem. In the event your veterinarian decides to prescribe an oral or topical medication for your cat, you can receive a free quote for your pet’s medication from Diamondback Drugs. We can help you save money on your pet medications.
As always, be sure to inform your veterinarian about any medications or supplements your cat is currently taking so your vet can make the best treatment decision for your cat’s unique case and help reduce the risk of a potential drug interaction.
Author: Giano Panzarella