Aside from causing your cat discomfort or pain, diseases or illnesses affecting your cat's skin can also weaken their body's defenses. Today, our McAllen veterinarians share some information about common skin conditions in cats.
Your cat's skin is a barrier between their body and external threats such as parasites and harmful bacteria. Diseases and conditions that cause damage to your cat's skin are many, but below are some of the more commonly seen skin conditions in cats.
Alopecia is a condition causing hair thinning or total hair loss (including the follicle). It can be caused by a number of diseases including infections, parasitic infestations, allergies, and some types of cancer.
Barbering is self-induced hair-thinning that occurs when the cat nibbles their fur, often caused by itchiness, pain, or stress. Cats also may engage in barbering areas that are painful but under the skin (e.g. barbering the genital and stomach area due to pain and discomfort associated with a UTI or painful internal conditions).
Often related to hair loss, itchy skin (pruritus) is skin irritation that leads to your cat scratching at themself. Itchy skin is one of the most common skin conditions that cats suffer from, which may have a number of causes such as allergies, different types of bacterial or fungal infections, autoimmune diseases, and conditions affecting the metabolic and endocrinal systems.
Miliary dermatitis is a common skin condition that manifests as a large number of tiny bumps developing on a cat's skin. Although it is more of a symptom than a specific disease, it is often seen because of a hypersensitivity to bites from fleas, bacteria, ringworm, and other parasitic infections. Infrequently, cats may exhibit this symptom as a reaction to a food allergen.
Excessively oily or dry, flaky skin in cats can be treated with medicated shampoos, but your vet will need to determine the underlying cause – whether that is poor grooming due to obesity or illness, a sign of a nutritional imbalance.
Infections Of The Skin
Skin infections caused by microbes that can't be observed without a microscope can cause a number of symptoms including:
- flaky skin (similar in appearance to dandruff in humans)
- discharge (may be yellowish-green)
- strong smell
Common parasites that live on and in your cat's skin, including mites, ticks, and fleas cause no end of discomfort in addition to spreading disease and triggering allergic responses.
Growths On The Skin
Luckily for cat caretakers, cats do not develop fatty tumors or skin tags at nearly the same rate as dogs. This does mean, however, that any growths on your cat's skin should be taken seriously and evaluated by a veterinarian. Especially for older female cats, lumps found on the belly need an immediate examination by a vet to determine whether they are mammary tumors.
Prevention Of Skin Conditions In Cats
Preventive steps are key to supporting your pet's dermatological health.
- Feed your cat high-quality food
- Help your cat maintain a healthy weight
- Use preventive products to avoid parasites
- Reduce stress if it is a factor in your cat's skin condition
- Help your cat with grooming if they need it (e.g. with a warm damp washcloth)
Your vet or veterinary specialist can examine your cat's condition and recommend the best course of treatment.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.