Does Your Cat Have a Skin Condition?

How do you know if your cat has a skin condition? The most common symptom is constant (or very frequent) scratching. 

Of course, the most common cause of skin problems and itching is fleas. However, there are a number of other possible causes, from food allergies to cancer! The fact is, there are many types of skin conditions that your cat can have, with many different causes. Some of those skin conditions signal a more serious underlying cause than fleas (though those are no joke, either). That’s why it makes sense to have regular appointments with your veterinarian, and if you suspect a skin problem, he or she can investigate further.

Besides itching, there are other signs of skin conditions you should be aware of.

5 Common Signs Your Cat Has a Skin Condition (Besides Constant Scratching)

Hair loss – There’s normal shedding and then there’s excessive shedding that leaves bald patches on Kitty. The latter is definitely a sign of a problem and you'll want to book an appointment with your veterinarian to determine the cause. While some causes of hair loss are relatively minor, unusual hair loss can also be a sign of diabetes, thyroid disease, or other serious illness.

Sometimes, though, hair loss can be more subtle, confined to the areas around the nose and eyes where your cat’s fur is short anyway. If your cat seems to paw at his/her face, this may signal a rash or an allergic reaction which your veterinarian can help diagnose.

Feline Acne -- It turns out that, much like a nervous teenager, cats can get acne. Acne takes the form, most commonly, of small black bumps on Kitty's chin. Sometimes they can burst or abscess, which can lead to further infection and definitely calls for veterinary intervention. However, causes for these bumps run the gamut and include medication, infections, stress, allergies, stressed immune system and poor grooming. Because of the multiple possible causes, treatments can vary, but feline acne is usually easily controlled.

Flaky Skin— If your kitty has flaky (dandruff-like) patches, it could be caused by a nutritional deficiency or it could be the sign of an underlying medical problem like a skin infection or even hyperthyroidism. It’s also possible that your kitty is having trouble grooming herself if the flaky skin is confined to a hard to reach area. There are a large number of possible causes, though, so it may take some testing to determine the underlying cause in order to effectively treat it.

Ear Mites –If your cat is shaking her head a lot and is paying a lot of attention to her ears, it may be because she has ear mites. Other symptoms include a strong smell and ear canals blocked by a dark, gritty substance. It’s tough to see these tiny creatures so if you suspect your cat may have ear mites, you’ll want to have her evaluated, particularly if you have other pets since they're highly transmissible.

Abscesses – An abscess is a pus-filled bump and signals a bacterial infection. Often caused by bites or other puncture wounds, cats who are prone to altercations with other animals are most at risk. Your veterinarian will drain the infected area and treat with antibiotics.


Other signs of skin problems include sores, lumps, and bumps of all types. Some of these – like ringworm – are highly contagious and can be passed to humans.

Can You Prevent Cat Skin Conditions?

As you can see, many of these symptoms are obvious – such as bald patches and excessive scratching. Others are less so. Regular grooming and a nutritious diet will go a long way toward helping Kitty stay healthy, but sometimes Kitty may pick up bacteria or develop an illness.

Your best defense as a caring pet owner is to provide regular maintenance – brushing, teeth cleaning and annual or semi-annual trips to the veterinarian. If you feel any unusual lumps when you pet or brush your cat, make a note and consult your veterinarian. If your cat is 7 years old or older, s/he should come in twice a year. 

Skin conditions can be symptoms of serious -- and sometimes contagious-- diseases. The sooner you get treatment for your kitty, the sooner you can help her feel better. Call or fill out our online form today to make an appointment to see a veterinarian!


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