9 Common Skin and Hair Problems and Treatments for Cats

Cats may deal with a number of skin and hair problems in their lifetimes. You can treat many of these conditions at home with over-the-counter creams and medications, but others require medical attention.  Some of the more common problems include:

1. Eosinophilic ulcer

A lesion that can occur near the upper lip. Diagnosis requires a skin sample or biopsy to rule out cancer. Small lesions may heal themselves; if they’re more extensive, your vet may prescribe antibiotics, steroids, or antihistamines.

2. Granuloma

Raised red circular plaque on the abdomen or inner thighs. Causes include hypersensitivity to flea bites, reaction to food, and environmental allergens. Diagnosis and treatment are the same as above.

3. Feline acne

Much like human acne, it’s caused by stress, poor grooming habits, and overactive sebaceous glands. For mild cases, treatment involves cleaning and topical vitamins; more severe cases require antibiotics.

4. Feline cowpox virus infection

An uncommon skin condition that affects cats that hunt small rodents. It enters the skin through a bite wound from the rodent and shows a few days later as an ulceration. The lesions usually heal within weeks of appearing, but a secondary infection will require antibacterial therapy.

5. Harvest mites

A larva that feeds on cats’ skin, most commonly on the ear flaps or on the area between the toes. Your vet may need to perform a microscopic exam of a superficial skin scraping to identify them. Insecticides are a highly effective treatment.

6. Impetigo

An inflammatory skin condition that causes pus-filled blisters on the abdomen and hairless areas. These blisters break easily, causing the disease to spread. To treat, dust the area with an antiseptic powder. If the impetigo persists, contact your vet.

7. Ringworm

A highly contagious fungal infection that can affect the hair, skin, or nails, creating scaly lesions. It’s transmitted by direct contact with fungal spores on an infected animal, or an area where the animal’s visited. Treatment usually involves topical creams, but you may need to shave your cat for it to be effective.

8. Stud Tail

An over secretion of the sebaceous glands near the base of the tale. You’ll notice greasy, matted hair, or worse, hair loss near the infected area. To treat stud tale, you’ll need to apply a tar and sulfa shampoo twice daily. Consult your vet if the hair follicle is infected.

9. Squamous cell carcinoma

A type of cancer that affects the skin, mostly around the facial tissue. Symptoms include patches of missing hair; lesions or sores; vomiting and diarrhea; and bleeding from the ears, nose, and mouth. Although squamous cell carcinoma is incurable, chemotherapy and radiation can help ease the pain.

When it comes to feline skin and hair problems, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If store-bought treatments are ineffective, consult your veterinarian for further direction.