White and brown cat lying on the bed

Treatment of a skin condition on a cat can take time, so start as early as possible.

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What skin and fur problems can cats have?

By Dr. Liz Barton MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

From fur loss to reddened skin and dandruff, cats can have all sorts of skin and fur problems.

Dermatology conditions encompass problems with your cat’s skin, claws and fur. Skin conditions vary in symptoms, including some or all of the following: fur loss, itching, pain, chewing skin or fur, increased licking, reddened skin, dandruff and sores. These conditions can have a big impact on your cat’s quality of life and happiness, so they are worth investigating.

What skin conditions can cats get?

There are a huge variety of skin conditions in cats including: parasites, allergies, those caused by behavioural problems, anxiety- or stress-related conditions, hormonal problems, auto-immune conditions, metabolic syndromes and cancers.

Why is my cat losing chunks of fur?

There are many causes of fur loss, but if your cat is losing fur in clumps, the location and distribution of these patches can give some clue. Bald areas around the face or tail base are often caused by allergies to fleas, whereas fur loss inside the legs and on the belly is more commonly due to stress or other allergies.

Reasons for hair loss can include: parasites, ringworm (a fungal infection despite the name), over-grooming, allergies, pain, hormonal problems, or auto-immune and metabolic conditions.

What does mange look like on cats?

There are different types of feline mange, with two of the most common being Demodex cati and Scabies Sarcoptes. The different types of mites vary in appearance, but are both very small. Diagnosing these conditions includes looking at swabs and skin scrape samples under a microscope. Depending on the type of mange, you are likely to see symptoms including itching, hair loss and scaling on the face particularly around the eyes.

How can I tell if my cat has mites?

This will depend on the type of mites, but many mites cause itching and regional hair loss. Diagnosing mites requires tests such as swabs and looking at skin scrapes under a microscope.

Why does my cat have scabs all over their body?

Scabs are a non-specific sign of many different skin conditions in cats, so a vet appointment is necessary to establish the cause and best treatment plan. A common cause is miliary dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction to flea saliva. Your cat can develop this even if they only have one or two flea bites and do not appear infested.

What are all the bumps on my cat's skin?

Small bumps could indicate a rash, whereas a larger bump could be a skin mass (benign or cancerous) or a cyst. Get any new bumps and lumps checked out by a vet.

What causes sores on my cat's skin?

Sores or ulcers on your cat’s skin around the nose or mouth may indicate a condition called eosinophilic granuloma complex. There are different theories for the specific cause of this, but it is likely to be an allergic response with a genetic component. Sores elsewhere on your cat could have a number of causes. As with any skin problem, it is always best to get these checked out by a vet and not to trial home treatments, which could make matters worse.

Why is my cat losing hair and has scabs?

Hair loss with scabs could indicate a type of mange. Yet, it is a relatively non-specific dermatological symptom and, as such, will require investigating.

How can I treat my cat’s skin problems?

Avoid home therapies as these can irritate skin further and lead to a worse problem. Human products are also unsuitable, as they can be toxic to cats. It is best to seek veterinary advice early on, to help prevent progression of the disease. If a skin problem is detected early enough, this can improve the efficacy and reduce the length of treatment time.

What can I give my cat for itchy skin?

Follow advice from a vet and do not give your cat home treatments. Veterinary treatments will vary hugely depending on the skin condition, but can include flea or other anti-parasitic treatments, topical or oral steroids, antibiotics, antifungals, antihistamines, fatty acid supplements and diet trials.

When should I see a vet to ask about my cat's skin problems?

If your cat develops symptoms of a skin problem, seek veterinary advice. There are so many different causes of skin conditions, and ruling in or out specific causes will make sure that treatment is appropriate. Skin conditions can be complicated to diagnose, because a primary issue such as an allergy can progress to a secondary problem such as a skin infection due to the cat scratching and introducing bacteria. Therefore, treatment of a skin condition can take time, and it is best to start as early as possible.

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