Skin problems in cats are common, and can range from the unsightly to the downright unpleasant. As long as you’re aware of what the most common cat skin problems are and how to best treat them, then your beloved cat shouldn’t suffer unnecessarily.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Even if you treat your cat and your home religiously against fleas, they are bound to rear their ugly heads from time to time, and if your cat suffers from an allergy to fleas (specifically their saliva), just one bite is likely to cause severe itching and discomfort. The best way to prevent flea allergy dermatitis is to follow a rigorous flea control routine. If your cat does suffer flea allergy dermatitis, then your vet will treat him with medication to control the itch and any infection.
Like human acne, feline acne can occur at any age of cat, and is often concentrated around the cat’s chin. You’ll notice small blackheads around the bottom of his lip and on his chin, which can also develop into sores and pimples. To avoid feline acne, make sure your cat has a clean food bowl at every meal, and use ceramic bowls rather than plastic ones, as bacteria can get trapped in plastic even after a thorough clean. Feline acne will often go away on its own, but if it gets infected your cat will need a course of antibiotics to clear it up.
Ringworm is a nasty fungal skin complaint, which is highly contagious to both other cats and humans, so it’s important to treat thoroughly. If your cat gets ringworm, you’ll usually notice circles of scaly skin around a hairless patch. Treatment is by anti-fungal medications including tablets and bathing solutions. It’s important to remember that ringworm is very infectious and to scrupulously clean and disinfect everything that your cat could have been in contact with including bedding and household surfaces.
Dermatitis is a blanket term for skin problems caused by an allergy or external irritant, which leads to inflamed, sore and itchy skin. Contact dermatitis is, as the name suggests, caused by the skin coming into direct contact with something, such as chemicals. It’s one of the less common cat skin problems, because your cat’s fur will often act as a barrier between the irritant and his skin. If your vet has diagnosed contact dermatitis, he’ll usually prescribe something to treat the itchiness, and antibiotics if the area seems infected.
If your cat grooms himself to the point of pulling out hair, he’s likely to be suffering from psychogenic alopecia. It’s a cat skin problem that’s usually caused by stress and anxiety, so treatment involves identifying the cause and doing whatever you can to relieve the stress in your cat’s life.
Stud tail occurs when the sebaceous glands at the base of your cat’s tail, essential for marking his territory, begin to over-excrete oils. You’ll probably notice that the hair at the base of his tail starts to smell, look greasy and matted, and he might also start to get spots and blackheads around the area. To treat stud tail you’ll need to wash the area twice a day with an antiseborrheic shampoo, which your vet will prescribe.
Has your cat suffered with skin problems? Please share your experiences…
Image: Sarah Korf via Flickr