Cat Skin Problems
There are a lot of reasons which can develop many cat skin problems and numerous categories under which skin problems can fall. You should not try to diagnose the problem yourself. Your vet needs to do tests to determine what is bothering your cat’s skin and what treatment is going to work.
Causes Of Cat Skin Problems
- Parasitic—the most common, caused by fleas, lice, mites
- Fungal—caused by infections such as ringworm and yeast
- Neoplastic—skin cancer
- Nutritional—caused by deficiency in the diet
- Seborrheic—caused by overproduction of keratin, resulting in blackheads on chin and lips
- Viral—caused by a virus; cats with FIV and FeLV are especially susceptible
- Bacterial—occurs when a scrape, bite or scratch gets infected; can become an abscess (a pus-filled wound)
- Hormonal—caused by thyroid or pancreas malfunction
- Immunologic—caused by an allergic reaction to pollen or dust
Types of cat skin problems
The first one of the most common cat skin problems is dandruff. A cat’s coat says a lot about her health, so if your cat has dandruff, she should be checked out by the vet, who may want to do a blood test to check her thyroid and other regulatory systems for imbalance.
1.Diet Can Lead to a Dandruff-Laden Coat
Some nutritionists believe that allowing a cat to free-feed on dry food, particularly low-quality kibble, is the cause of skin problems.
The theory these nutritionists have is that if a cat is constantly smelling food, her body is in a constant state of preparation for digestion, and this constant physical readiness for processing food slows down her metabolism.
If the metabolic system is not being efficient, your cat’s kidneys and digestive system are not functioning efficiently, and waste products wind up being excreted on the skin instead of through the organs designed for those tasks.
Assuming this theory has merit, the solution is to feed a quality protein meal twice a day, as described in the nutrition chapter, with an exercise/play session right before meals to encourage the body to excrete waste through the normal channels.
These nutritionists suggest that the best way to improve your cat’s skin condition is to phase out the kibble in a cat’s diet and replace it with high-quality protein. They also suggest boosting the fiber in the diet by adding a pinch of bran or finely grated raw carrot or zucchini to the food.
While there is no absolute proof to support this nutritional theory, if you have a cat with a dry, flaky, greasy coat, what have you got to lose by giving this diet a try?
2.Bathe Every 2 to 4 Weeks
- You need to wash your cat frequently to restore skin health if she has a lot of dandruff. The acid rinse after shampooing, described in the section on how to bathe your cat, can be particularly beneficial.
- Be sure to rinse several times with plain warm water also, to be sure there is no residue on your cat’s fur when you’re done.
(B) Fur Issues
Fur Issues are the most common cat skin problems. A cat may have four types of fur on her body. Three are true fur, and the fourth is the whiskers (technically called vibrissae). Down fur is the closest to the cat’s skin—it is very fine and short and keeps her warm.
The awn hairs form the middle layer of the fur and are bristly, and the top coat is called guard hair, which is longer and thicker than the other two inner layers, protecting them against wet and cold.
The texture and amount of fur on a cat depends on her breed. Some long-haired cats have guard hair 5 inches long, while short-haired cats may have 2-inch guard hairs. And then there are breeds such as the Cornish Rex, which have only down fur and curly whiskers.
- There are a number of common reasons that a cat can lose her fur, including a condition called alopecia, which causes her to lose clumps of it.
- The first order of business is to have your vet examine the cat for any medical issues that could be compromising her coat.
- Thyroid or other hormonal abnormalities are the first thing vets will look for.
- Other causes can be external parasites (fleas, mites), internal parasites (tapeworms or roundworms), or infection (bacterial, viral or fungal).
- And then there are cats who are allergic to medications, foods or environmental elements such as grasses, molds, dust and mites.
Read More about: Hair loss in cats
2.Reddish Tinge to the Fur
Red streaks can sometimes appear in a cat’s coat that is not normally red. Some say this is a sign of a serious protein deficiency, but more commonly the streaks are blood deposited from the cat’s mouth when she is grooming herself (if she has dental disease or other oral problems), or the red streaks could be a sign of flea infestation since flea feces are basically digested blood. In any case, this warrants a visit to the vet to find out the reason and correct it.
3. A Cat Who Grooms Too Much
It’s probably time for a vet consultation if your cat licks, rubs or sucks her coat constantly. Over grooming can cause all sorts of skin problems, from fur loss to skin irritation, sores and scabs.
This behavior can be caused by anxiety (sort of like nail biting in people), in which case it is called psychogenic licking. Another reason can be that the cat licks to relieve internal pain from urinary problems or external discomfort from fleas or mites.
Even when these physical problems have been solved, she may still continue this self-soothing behavior of frequent licking.
Your vet will have some ideas about how to break this cycle, whether by using Comfort Zone Feliway in a spray or diffuser as a calming agent in the atmosphere or by prescribing a temporary antianxiety medication for your cat. In addition, please explore homeopathic remedies at www.spiritessence.com.
4. A Cat Who Grooms Too Little
This is generally a sign of ill health in a cat, especially when it goes along with lethargy or lack of appetite. Other reasons that a cat might not be keeping herself tidy are because she is overweight or arthritic and cannot reach all areas of her body to groom, especially the hind end or belly. Alternately, a cat with a long, thick coat may simply need your assistance to get the job done well.
(C) An abscess
An abscess is the 2nd one of the most common cat skin problems. It is an area of pus and debris that is surrounded by inflammation. The most common way cats get abscesses is from bites by other cats.
Cats have an incredible amount of bacteria in their mouths. When they get into fights, there is always a risk of a bite, and that bite developing into an abscess.
While cat fights are possible in a multicat household, the greater risk is for outdoor or indoor-outdoor cats to fight with unfamiliar felines. It’s just one more danger of the great outdoors.
An abscess from a bite usually forms under the skin because cat teeth cause puncture wounds that seal over quickly, trapping the bacteria inside. Within two or three days your kitty will not eat.
He’ll become lethargic, and there will be pus where the puncture occurred as the bacteria multiplies. The area will be swollen and painful when you touch it; you’ll be able to smell it, too. Your cat may have swollen lymph nodes as well.
Treatment The abscess
- An abscess is an active infection. Unlike other types of infections, antibiotics alone will not take care of it. The abscess must be opened and drained by a veterinarian. The sooner your veterinarian cleans the wound and removes the dead tissue, the better.
- Kitty will also need to be treated for the infection. That means a full course of antibiotics. Be sure to give your cat the antibiotics your veterinarian prescribes for the entire course of treatment.
- Some people stop treatment when their cat looks and feels better. But that gives the infection a chance to recur. So even if your cat is difficult to medicate, go the distance. Pain management is also needed for abscesses; be sure to ask for and follow your veterinarian’s advice.
- It is so much safer to keep your cat indoors where he isn’t going to get into any territorial fights with stray cats. The old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” really holds true.
(D) Allergy dermatitis
Allergy dermatitis is the 3rd one of the most common cat skin problems.
1.Flea allergy dermatitis: is one of the most common allergies in cats.
- Signs include: excessive scratching, biting, hair loss (particularly on the back and stomach), and red, pimplelike lesions.
- Causes: The chemicals in flea collars can also cause an allergic reaction. If your cat loses the hair and develops redness under his flea collar, remove the collar immediately. Cats can also be allergic to certain particles in the air, such as plant pollens, house dust, and other inhalants.
2. Inherited allergy dermatitis: These kinds of allergies may be inherited.
- Signs include: paw licking, sneezing, redness, and scratching. The signs are about the same as those of flea allergy dermatitis, but no fleas are present.
Management allergic dermatitis:
- Your veterinarian may do tests to determine the cause of the allergy.
- Cortisone injections are usually given to treat an allergy.
- Cats may also develop allergies toward certain foods. If you notice that a certain brand of food is causing itchy skin on your cat, cut that food out of your cat’s diet and try something else.
- Many cats have what is called food intolerance and will develop loose stool with flecks of blood. Intestinal parasites must be ruled out, and then your veterinarian should recommend a special diet.
- Some cats develop an allergic chin rash or lip ulcers in reaction to plastic feeding bowls. Many veterinarians recommend using crockery or china feeding bowls.
(E) Acne and stud tail
- Acne and stud tail is the 4th one of the most common cat skin problems. Both of these conditions arise from overproduction of oily sebum from glands in the skin.
- Acne most often occurs on the chin; stud tail affects the base of the tail, resulting in a greasy, often matted, patch of fur. Stud tail mostly, but not exclusively, occurs in unneutered males.
- Generally, these are cosmetic conditions but sometimes an area becomes infected and needs treating with antibiotics.
- To improve stud tail, your veterinarian may clip away the fur and prescribe a wash to reduce greasiness. If your cat is an unneutered male, the veterinarian will recommend castration.
(F) Skin growths
Skin growths are the 5th one of the most common cat skin problems. If you find a lump on your cat, always have it investigated promptly. Your vet may take a sample of cells for analysis, either with a needle while your cat is conscious, or as a biopsy under a general anesthetic.
If a serious problem—for example, a cancerous growth—is diagnosed, your vet will discuss the options with you. Unpigmented or light skin on areas such as ears, eyelids, lips, and nose is prone to skin cancer.
If your cat develops ulcerated, crusty, or sore patches in these areas, have him examined by a vet as soon as possible. Treatment of skin cancer has the best chance of success when carried out at an early stage.
As a preventive measure, you can use high-factor sunscreens that are specifically formulated for cats and resistant to washing and grooming.
Ringworm is the 6th one of the most common cat skin problems. Despite its name, ringworm is not a parasite but a fungal infection of the skin that is highly contagious among cats and to humans. Circular, hairless lesions with a red outer edge, flaky skin, and hair that pulls out easily are all signs of ringworm.
Ringworm organisms last in the environment for a long time. Cats will eventually clear the organism on their own (in weeks or months), but can still transmit the fungus to people and other pets.
The treatment: is an oral medicine (fulvicin) prescribed by your veterinarian or a lime-sulfur dip and antifungal ointment. For lesions on humans (circular or semicircular itchy areas, generally on the forearms and neck), an over-the-counter anti fungal cream such as Tinactin should get rid of the problem in a few days.
Once you rid your cat of ringworm, discard or sterilize all catrelated items such as brushes, combs, leashes, and bedding so that reinfection does not occur.
Mites is the 7th one of the most common cat skin problems.
- It is the most common mites found in cats, and indoor cats are also prone to them (although not to the extent that outdoor cats are).
- To check your cat for ear mites, look into his ears with a flashlight. Dirty looking ears, scratching at his ears, tilting his head, and keeping his ears in a horizontal position are all signs that the cat may have ear mites.
- Your veterinarian can give you prescription drops to put in the cat’s ears and instruct you on how to administer the medicine and how often.
- Some cat owners think ear mites are not serious and do not need to be treated. That is absolutely not true.
- Ear mites are very painful for your cat, and the sound of the mites moving about in the ear canals is also very disturbing for the cat. Ear mites need to be taken seriously and treated immediately.
- Besides ear mites, there are also white mites, chiggers, maggots, and lice.
- White mites resemble large particles of dandruff and can cause extreme itching.
- Flea sprays may be effective in helping to eliminate these, but in severe cases see your veterinarian.
A small orange or red mite attached to your pet’s belly, ears, head, or legs may be a chigger. If you remove one of these pests from your cat, watch the area closely for infection. For heavy infestations, ask your veterinarian for the proper insecticide.
Sometimes lice are hard to spot, as they are very tiny. Severe itching may be a sign that these microscopic pests are present. Lice are rare on cats, but they can occur. Your veterinarian can make the proper diagnosis and give you a shampoo that will eliminate them.
- Fleas is the 8th one of the most common cat skin problems. The most common external parasite is the flea, which feeds on blood.
- Heavy infestation in kittens can cause anemia due to blood loss. In some cats, flea saliva may trigger dermatitis or a severe allergic reaction.
- Fleas may also pass on tapeworms (see opposite) and transmit diseases such as bartonellosis (cat scratch disease) between cats.
- A cat with fleas may scratch and groom himself excessively, causing hair loss and inflamed or broken skin. You may see fleas or black specks (flea feces) in the fur. Other pets or humans may be bitten.
- Your vet can recommend a treatment for effective flea control. You will need to treat any other
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