Cat Skin Problems.
Guide To Common Cat Skin Disorders

Cat skin problems are quite common. Cat skin disorders will show themselves in different ways, depending on the cause.

Some feline skin problems will be very obvious, others you'll probably only spot when you're stroking, handling or grooming your cat.

This page goes through the common types of feline skin disorders and how to recognize them. I've categorized them into groups, but you'll notice there is some overlap.

Cat Hair Loss

This is pretty obvious when it happens - you'll notice patches of thinned hair or patches that are almost completely bald. Your cat's coat may also start to appear dull and out of condition.

There are lots of causes of cat hair loss. If the hair loss is accompanied by excessive scratching and grooming, feline allergies and / or stress could be the cause.

In bad cases, the cat may literally bite out chunks of hair. It's sometimes difficult to distinguish between stress and an allergy, as the symptoms can be very similar.

Other reasons why a cat may lose his hair include parasitic infections, an over-active thyroid gland and sunburn. Click here for more detailed information on cat hair loss.

Itchy Skin Problems

picture of cat scratching himself

There are various reasons why a cat may develop an itchy skin. Again, this is very obvious - he'll groom and scratch himself almost non-stop.

Sometimes he'll scratch until he bleeds, often pulling out chunks of hair at the same time.

Reasons for itchy skin problems include:

*Click here for advice on the different cat flea treatment methods available.

Lumps and Bumps

These may be painful - i.e. Kitty will jump out of his skin if you go anywhere near them - or not painful - i.e. you'll probably only notice them when you're grooming or stroking Kitty but he won't flinch when you touch them.

Painful cat skin problems usually show themselves as red, swollen areas. The redness and swelling are due to infection. If the skin breaks, pus and blood will likely ooze out. The pus is a by-product of the cat's immune system fighting the infection.

Causes of painful, infected skin disorders include:

  • Excessive scratching which results in the skin breaking and becoming infected
  • Abscesses (painful, fluid filled lumps under the skin). These may develop after cat fights (see male cat behavior) or if a foreign body has got lodged under the skin)
  • Feline acne - pimples under the chin and round the lips

Non-painful cat skin problems include:

  • Warts, which often look like bits of chewing gum stuck to the skin
  • Hematoma (collection of blood) under the skin. Usually develops after a cat fight or excessive scratching
  • Cysts - smooth lumps which develop beneath the skin and can grow over time
  • Eosinophilic granuloma (rodent ulcer) - raised, small red lumps that appear around the mouth, inside of the thighs and back of the hind legs. Caused by an allergy

What About Cancer?

Many cat owners, when they feel a lump on their cat's skin, immediately worry that it could be cancer.

Some of the main signs of cancer include:

  • Fast growth of the lump
  • Seems to be fixed to the surrounding tissue or to bone
  • Bleeding that's not obviously attributable to a trauma injury
  • A mole that changes shape, starts to bleed, spread or develops ulcers
  • A sore that won't heal

In the vast majority of cases, lumps and bumps on your cat's skin are not due to cancer. However if you're in any doubt, the sooner you can get your cat to the vet, the better. With cancer, the earlier it's caught, the better the chances of a full recovery.

Cat skin problems, most of the time, aren't serious and can be treated once you know the cause. If you do suddenly feel a lump (or lumps) on your cat's skin and you don't know why, an early trip to the vet is advisable.

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