Cats, just like everyone else, can end up developing a skin condition. We may not think about it, since their skin is pretty well covered with a thick layer of fur (in most cases), but when a cat skin problem occurs, they are just as uncomfortable as anyone else. If you want to be able to help your cat when the problem occurs, it pays to know the signs, and what the likely cause could be.
1. Scratching, licking, and chewing at the skin
Fact: cats lick themselves clean, and they also scratch themselves. However, if you notice that your cat is really working a specific spot (especially around their neck or head), it could be their way of trying to deal with skin irritation. Often, this type of behavior is symptomatic of a parasite, such as fleas, ticks, or ear mites, causing your cat to go mental trying to get at the source of the itch. If your cat is really going at a specific area, take them to the vet.
While they may not be visible, scabs can often be felt. If you are petting your cat and you feel a spot of crusty, scabbed over skin, this could either be a legion or the result of excessive scratching, both of which are a sign that something is bothering your cat. It could be miliary dermatitis or another issue, and it's time to consult your vet.
3. Redness or inflammation
If your cat’s skin is becoming red and raised, chances are this is an allergic reaction to something they are interacting with in your home, commonly known as contact dermatitis. Frequently a result of an allergy to plastic or rubber, the best defense is to keep your cat away from potential triggers. Try feeding them from glass, stainless steel, or ceramic bowls, as rubber/plastic dishes are a leading cause. Talk to your vet as well, since it could also be a result of something more serious.
4. Round, scaly patches
Ringworm is an infectious fungus that causes scaly patches on the skin. If you notice any round, scaly skin on your cat's body, most commonly on the head or paws, take them to the vet to have them treated.
5. Dry, flaky skin
A symptom that can be attributed to a ton of different causes — from allergies and weather to parasites — dry, flaky skin can be alleviated with a dietary supplement such as fish oil to help their skin and fur regain its natural sheen and moisture. However, you should always consult with your vet before adding any supplement to your cat's diet.
6. Hair loss
If your cat is licking their coat to the point of removing hair, it is a good sign that they are in pain resulting from one of the aforementioned causes. If, however, the hair is falling out on its own, chances are that the cat is suffering from a different kind of condition, such as demodectic mange, an excess of cortisone, hyperthyroidism, feline endocrine alopecia, or some other type of disease. If your cat’s hair is falling out, take them to the vet as soon as possible.
7. Skin discoloration
Depending on how far the discoloration spreads (small spots or a large portion of their skin), this could either be a minor reaction to something like a mosquito bite or something more serious like Cushing’s disease. Regardless of the size, however, if there is a change in your cat’s skin color, you should take them to the vet immediately.
More on Cat Skin
5 Treatments for Cat Dry Skin
Cat Dandruff Remedies and Solutions
Cat Tumors and Cat Skin Disease - How to Detect Them and What You Can Do
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.