Skin diseases are one of the top ten reasons that cats end
up at the vet. They are the fifth leading diagnosis amongst pets. Cats can have rashes, lesions, cysts,
even acne. Hairless and white furred cats can suffer from severe sunburns. Symptoms of skin problems tend
to include a dull, dry coat, hair loss, irritated and red skin, flaky dry skin, bumps and lumps, scabs,
scaly patches and excessive scratching. They can affect both the skin and beauty of your pet.
Top five most common skin diseases are:
Abscess: A collection of puss at the site of a bite or puncture wound that is painful. They are a firm swelling
that becomes soft over time and eventually ruptures; they are often accompanied by pussy discharge. Many
abscesses are fight related and found on ears, forelegs and abdomen; however they can appear at the base of the
tail or on the tail if the cat is bitten while fleeing. They are best prevented by keeping your cat indoors and
require veterinary attention to cure.
Ear Mites and other parasites: The symptoms of ear mites include shaking the head and
scratching the ears, as well as excessive and dark colored wax. They are diagnosed by your vet using an
otoscope to look into the canals. They will appear as small, off-white specs moving on the ear wax. If left
untreated, mites can cause a secondary bacterial infection. Your vet will clean the ears and then prescribe
medicated ear drops.
Scabies, chiggers and walking dandruff are three more parasites that can cause skin
problems. Their symptoms include: itching and irritation between the toes with red, yellow or orange spots,
intense itching around the head, face, neck and ears; severe hair loss, thick gray or yellow crusts, and
dry, scaly, flaky skin on the back, neck and sides. All of these require vet treatment. Scabies is
transferable to humans so you will want to get your cat to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Ringworm is also a problem. It is a fungal infection that is highly contagious to both animals and humans so it
is important that it is treated quickly and efficiently. It is characterized by round patches that show hair
loss with a red ring around them. It may show as only broken spots of hair on the face and ears. It requires
veterinary attention as soon as possible and is treated with antifungals and sterilization of the home.
Contact Dermatitis including Feline Acne: Symptoms include red, itchy bumps, inflamed
skin, and blackheads on the underside of the chin and edge of lips. There may also be scales and hair loss.
This can be caused by contact with a chemical or other irritant as well as rubber or plastic food dishes.
The best way to prevent contact dermatitis is to keep cats away from chemicals. Consider switching your cats
to glass, stainless steel, or lead-free ceramic dishes. Acne may require an antiseborrheic shampoo such as
those that contain benzoyl peroxide. Check with your Vet if you suspect your cat has either condition.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD): FAD is characterized by small pimple-like bumps near the base of the tail, back
of the rear legs, and inner thighs. They are very itchy and irritating. Though many cats can have fleas and
never experience a problem, some cats need only a single bite to suffer days of itchy bumps. The best way to
prevent FAD is to prevent fleas. Your Vet will be able to suggest the best preventative. Flea allergies
can also cause miliary dermatitis which is characterized by small bumps and crusts around the head, neck and
back. These can be felt beneath their coat.
Food Allergy Dermatitis: Some cats are very sensitive to ingredients in their food. If
they develop a food allergy, the symptoms can be as small as reddened ears or include severe itching of the
head, neck and back, welling of the eyelids, and can be complicated by hair loss and oozing sores from
constant scratching and biting. Treatment usually involves eliminating things from the diet to see what
stops the symptoms. Some vets may treat with steroid injections as well to give the cat some relief and a
chance to heal.
Other skin diseases include atopic dermatitis, lice, maggots, ticks, stud tail (predominantly in un-neutered
males). If you think your cat is suffering from any one of these you should take them to the Vet as soon as
possible. Skin conditions can also be a sign of a serious internal problem as well. There is more to the cat
than their coat and problems under the skin can affect the fur on top of it!
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