Tuesday, June 23, 2015
When investigating cat skin problems, start with simple explanations and then move to those that require veterinary tests (although it never hurts to visit your vet). For mild cat skin itch and flaking with no other symptoms such as pus or oozing lesions, fever or significant hair loss, try a mild non-medicated shampoo or waterless bath wash (see below for recommendations).
Why It's Difficult to Recognize Cat Skin Problems
- grooming more often than normal, particularly in one area
- changes in behavior such as acting agitated or anxious
- twitching of the superficial back muscles
- hiding from view
- avoiding attention
Pictures and Descriptions of Common Cat Skin Problems
Types of Cat Skin Problems
If you can't match one of the picture, try continuing your investigation by clicking the links below that best match the cat skin symptoms, or what you believe is causing the cat skin problems.
Cat atopic dermatitis in particular is the second most common cause of feline skin conditions after flea allergy (see below). Symptoms are similar to flea allergy so if you cat has been on a flea preventative, then atopy should be the next area to investigate. The condition is usually treated with a prescription steroid such as the medication prednisolone. If any skin rubbing resulted in infection, then antibiotics will be prescribed as well.
Cat Skin Problems can be caused by Atopy, which are inhaled seasonal allergies can cause hair loss on body (rear leg) as shown above
Source: Dermatology for the Small Animal Practitioner (Mueller)
Food allergy dermatitis in a cat
From the collection of Dr. Barbara Stein, Washington State University
Cat Skin Food Allergy Dermatitis
Source: Washington State University, Dr. Candace Sousa, DABVP, DACVD
Senior Veterinary Specialist, Veterinary Specialist Team
Pfizer Animal Health
Cat Skin Problems or Plaques caused by Flea Allergy
Source: Washington State University
Miliary dermatitis refers to cat skin problems where scabbing lesions form in areas under the chin and neck.
Cat Miliary Dermatitis
- Ringworm: (also called dermatophytosis) Ringworm in cats is less common than cat flea allergy or atopic dermatitis. This fungus occurs in cats with inadequate immune systems, which is a particular problem in kittens whose immune systems haven't had time to develop. Cat ringworm symptoms include hair loss and crusting on the paws and face. Some cats can be carriers of the disease without showing any symptoms, which could explain why one cat in a two cat household has the disorder. Treatment options include a natural skin treatment such as Naturasil.
- Cat Skin Fungus
Symptoms of Feline Skin Disorders
- Dry, flaky cat skin
- Red, irritated looking skin called skin lesions
- Loss of hair (called cat alopecia, or the result of atopy see feline skin allergies above)
- A dry, dull-looking coat
- Lumps or bumps on or under the skin
- Red patches on the skin
- Round raw lesions on the head, hips and chest called cat hot spots
- Scaly patches or scabs on the skin
- Your cat may scratch or lick her skin excessively (called pruritis)
Diagnosis of Cat Skin Problems
- Physical Examination: Some types of cat skin disease such as fleas are immediately identifiable by your vet. such as fleas.
- Skin Cytology Tests: The next most likely cause is a cat skin infection caused by bacteria. Cytology tests are used to examine skin cells in order to confirm this specific diagnosis.
- Fungal Culture Test: This test is used to detect fungal infections such as cat ringworm. Results take 2 to 3 weeks, so the test is often given at the first office visit just in case. A special lamp called a Woods Lamp is also used as an in-office diagnostic test for certain types of cat fungal skin infections.
If the fungal culture is negative, then most vets will conduct additional tests such as:
- Skin biopsy: These tests look for problems such as cat skin cancer. In this test, a needle is used to remove cells from a lump to be examined by a pathologist. This can determine if a lump is cancerous or if it is just a cyst or wart.
- Food Trial: Food allergy is a common cause of allergy in cats. If this cause is suspected, then the vet will recommend a hypoallergenic diet .
- Blood and Serum tests: These tests can be used to check for infections, certain nutrient deficiencies and allergens (serum tests). Intradermal tests (skin surface tests) can also be used to test for certain allergens that are causing atopic dermatitis (skin inflammation), after other possible causes are eliminated.
- Abyssinian cats: earwax and cat ear canal infection (otitis externa), excessive grooming (feline psychogenic alopecia)
- Persian cats: cat walking dandruff (caused by mites, cheyletieliosis, cheyletiella dermatitis), Ringworm (dermatophytosis), superficial dermatitis that occurs in skin folds due to moisture that leads to skin infection, feline seborrhea (skin flaking)
- Siamese cats: food allergy, hair loss (feline hypotrichosis), white cat hair around eyes (periocular leukotrichia), cat white skin patches (cat vitiligo)
Treatment of Cat Skin Problems
Home Cat Skin Treatment and RemediesIf the cat skin condition is mild, meaning there is mild skin itch or skin flaking, then you can try home treatment. First, look for an early stage cat flea problem. Even if you don't see fleas in your home or on your cat, don't immediately eliminate this as a possible cause since fleas are great at hiding. Also, contrary to popular belief, fleas are one of those cat skin problems that can occur at any time of the year. To check for cat fleas, use a flea comb and comb through your cat's coat, with special focus on the area just above the tail and also be sure to carefully examine the back part of the thighs.
If you suspect cat fleas, you'll want to kill the fleas that are on your cat using a product such as Adams Plus, followed by the use of a flea preventative. If this is the cause be sure to also clean your cat's environment to remove any hiding fleas. Check with your Vet for a specific product recommendation as well.
Cat Shampoo Therapy for Cat Skin Problems
Next, if you rule out fleas as the cause of the cat skin problems, you can try bathing your cat in a colloidal oatmeal shampoo such as Avoderm or use over-the-counter sprays or waterless bath foam (if your cat hates baths) to see if you can bring some relief. These are not cures, but can help with symptoms. Avoid using medicated shampoos at first, as these can often irritate the skin. If the natural shampoos don't help, then a medicated cat shampoo is worth a try (see below). The key to shampoo therapy is contact with the skin, which isn't always easy with a cat that hates the water.
Instructions for Applying Cat Shampoo
The ideal length of time for a shampoo to stay in contact with the skin is 10 minutes. If you cat allows it, massage into the skin, and then rinse the shampoo off your cat for 5 to 10 minutes.
If the non-medicated approach does not help, try these shampoos depending on the symptoms and suspected cause of the condition.
CAT SKIN PROBLEMS AND SUGGESTED CAT SHAMPOOS
Cat Skin Disease and Symptoms
Typical Frequency of Shampooing
Bacterial cat skin Infection, Fungal infection.
Duoxo with Chlorheidine
Every 1 to 14 days,
Mild skin flaking (seborrhea sicca, seborrhea dermatitis), cat dandruff
Dermapet MalAcetic ShampooAlso look for shampoos with Sulfur and/or Salcylic acid
2x to 3x per week until improvement is seen, then reduce frequency
Dry Cat Skin and itchy cat skin
Avoderm with colloidal oatmeal
Every 3 to 14 days as needed
If you notice the cat skin condition worsening, despite your home treatment, see a Vet. Always see a Vet if you see hair loss, red skin areas, pus or oozing areas on the skin.
Also, if your cat has scratched herself too much, antibiotics may be necessary, as a secondary bacterial infection may have set in. Treatment may involve oral or topical medications.
Department of Clinical Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
Add these 4 pain-fighting superfoods to your diet and you’ll probably feel a difference a few minutes after your last bite.
THE SERENITY PRAYER
GOD GRANT ME THE SERENITY
LIVING ONE DAY AT A TIME;