Cat Skin Condition Guide
Skin forms the biggest organ in most of the animals around, including us humans. It has been assigned various tasks with the most important one being making us look the way we do. Other responsibilities include protective barrier against mechanical, thermal and physical injury and hazardous substances, preventing loss of moisture, reducing harmful effects of UV radiation, acting as a sensory organ to touch, feel and detect temperature. This makes it one of the most important organs in the body. When we talk about a cat’s skin, it performs similar roles and even some more.Cat skin is called ‘Epidermis’. Apart from being a cat’s biggest organ and a sensory one, it acts as an important barrier organ against dryness through the loss of bodily fluids and the invasion of pathogens. It also regulates body temperature and acts as an excretory organ for sebum, sweat and hormones. Their skin weighs about 12-25% of the body’s weight. Now being the outermost organ which comes in contact with the environment around, it is exposed to several conditions.
Cat Skin Conditions: Signs and Symptoms
The skin is visible to the naked eye all the time and shows the maximum symptoms of an underlying disease if any within a cat. Here are some of the most common cat skin conditions and signs to look for –
Hair Loss – One of the most evident signs of a skin disorder is hair loss. One or 2 bald patches can even occur.
Alopecia – This is a case of extreme hair loss. The affected area will feel like a waxed one i.e., smooth. It can be a sign of allergies, infections, parasite infestations, nutritional disorders, endocrine disease, and even certain cancers.
Barbering – Cats tend to overgroom themselves at times and in the process bite the hair shafts in two. This is called barbering. The cause can be itchiness, pain, or stress. This is often seen when the curtains of the house are changed causing the cat to stress.
Pruritus – Also called itchy skin, it is followed by hair loss. Most skin diseases come with itchy skin. However, there are some bacterial and fungal infections, autoimmune diseases, metabolic disorders, and endocrine diseases which can occur without itching.
Military Dermatitis – This is a condition when numerous small, grainy bumps appear on the surface of the skin of your feline buddy. Hypersensitivity to flea bites is known to be the most common reason for this. Other causes include bacterial infections, ringworm infections, other parasitic infestations, autoimmune diseases, and certain cancers.
Scabs – Trauma usually opens the skin enough to cause bleeding and then when the blood clots and the injury is closed, a scab is formed. Scabs can be excoriations or crusts, which are self-induced or rupturing of the outside protective layer by a condition respectively.
Sores – Skin injuries can be of different types, including abrasions, ulcers, lacerations, punctures, abscesses, etc. These can be a red, inflamed sore spot on the cat’s skin, or the wound can open, seeping discharge from the affected area. Parasites, infections, allergies, diseases, or burns could be possible causes.
Rashes – Flat and red spots on a cat’s skin, encompassing a medium to the large area is often described as a rash. There are again different types of rashes, and it is important for your vet to clearly identify the type.
Dry-Flaky Skin – Also called a scale by vets, dry skin is just like having dandruff in our hair. And the solution is the same as well. A good shampoo. The reasons can be nutritional imbalances or obesity. It can also happen if the cat is too sick to groom itself.
Oily Fur – Again a similar condition to that of human hair with a similar solution. Excess oil can be accumulated in the fur due to several reasons and it can be washed out with a good vet-recommended shampoo. Cats usually maintain their fur oil levels, so if there is extra oil seen, the process of oil production and removal in cats has been disturbed. This makes it important to consult a vet once for probable causes.
Bumps and Tumors – Although not very common in cats as dogs, if found one, one should be consulted by a vet immediately. It is possible that the growth will need to be removed and sent out for a biopsy to determine the exact cause.
Infections – Infections can include –
Small, fluid-filled bumps called Pustules
Epidermal collarettes are flaky skin around reddened or darkened skin
Yellow, green, or chunky discharge from the skin.
A test will have to be conducted in most cases to check whether there is a presence of bacteria or yeast in the skin cells. Infections may not have many signs apart from itchiness and 1 or 2 other mild symptoms.
Parasites – There are several types of internal parasites that cause problems in cats. These include roundworms, heartworm, tapeworms, and hookworms. These will most probably be found on the cat’s skin, sucking on the blood while the cat is enjoying the sunny day. They create discomfort, spread secondary diseases, generate allergic responses, and potentially infect the humans in the family as well. It is one of the most common skin problems found in cats and you will know it when you run a comb through the cat’s skin.
Causes of Skin Conditions in Cats
There can be multiple causes causing the above conditions in cats. Some include –
Food allergies – Food allergies can trigger itching on the back, head, and neck.
Abscesses – Cat fights often result in cuts and grazes leading to scratching and itching which again leads to an open wound leaving an opening for bacteria to enter
Environmental allergies – Chemicals used around the household; and any dust, grass, or pollen can all contribute towards inducing an allergy in your cat which will cause skin irritation as a symptom.
Ticks and Fleas – It’s likely that tens and hundreds of fleas are present in the cat’s everyday environment. And these fleas can become a reason for certain skin conditions.
There can be other reasons as well, but these are the most commonly found ones. Read more about Periodontal Disease in Cats
Treatment of Skin Conditions in Cats
There is no better treatment than prevention when it comes to skin conditions. Although, when it comes to cats, they themselves are hygiene freaks who will end up even over-cleaning themselves, ironically causing a skin problem. But as a responsible pet parent, the cat’s hygiene is to be maintained at all times to avoid all the above skin conditions. Other ways to prevent them include –
Feeding them high-quality, vet-recommended food
Keeping the weight in check and avoiding obesity
Using flea and tick control measures
Look out for any stress indications in the cat
Assist with grooming the cat whenever needed
Cats, despite being obsessed with cleaning, can develop certain skin conditions. Most may not be very severe, but some can even be fatal if not attended to on time. Health and hygiene are the 2 keys here. A healthy and clean cat always goes a long way in fighting any conditions and diseases.
Happy Mood and Health to your Cat and lots of Love and Purrrrss to you!
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