Cats are an incredibly popular pet; there is a reason why people often describe themselves as a ‘cat person’ or a ‘dog person’ because these two animals definitely corner the pet market. While there are a number of benefits to having a cat as a pet, there are other things that you should be aware of as a cat owner. Skin problems are actually quite prevalent among cats, and knowing what to look for can help to ensure that you can catch the issues as soon as possible and have them treated properly. For the most part, the skin conditions themselves are relatively easy to treat, but a speedy initial diagnosis is beneficial, so let’s take a look.
Symptoms to Look for
Skin conditions do tend to have a fair amount of overlap, and there are a number of symptoms that are pretty common. On some occasions, it might be harder to spot a skin condition in a cat because they do tend to spend time grooming themselves anyway. However, if they are spending more time than they usually would or if they are biting, licking or scratching their skin incessantly, it is worth further exploration. Hair loss, redness, dull fur and scabs are also things that you should be paying attention to too, especially if you have witnessed your cat grooming excessively in the last day or so. Feeding your cat foods rich in Omega 3 can help to maintain their coat.
Fleas & Ticks
Arguably, one of the most common skin conditions experienced by cats, or indeed most animals with fur, is fleas and ticks. This is why taking preventative measures is so important; by using flea and tick treatments, you can prevent the initial infection. They are applied to your cat’s skin, and they prevent an infestation. If your cat does have fleas, then you are likely to witness them scratching as well as sores, hair loss and redness. Finding one flea means that there will be more, and you will need to work to clean your home and eliminate the infestation.
Ear mites are pretty common among cats – more so kittens than older cats, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. If you witness your cat scratching its ears and shaking their heads around excessively, then this is likely to denote an ear mite infection. The mites themselves cause intense itching, and if left untreated, they can cause bacterial infections too.
Mange is actually caused by mites, some of which are so small that they are microscopic and cannot be seen by the human eye. These mites cause inflammation by burrowing into your cat’s skin. Their presence then irritates your cat, which makes them scratch, their skin swells, and they also tend to start to lose patches of their fur. You are also likely to see redness and scabbing thanks to the constant scratching. Luckily, mange is pretty easy to treat; the mites are killed by flea prevention techniques and topical treatments. You will also need to give your house and anything touched by the cat a thorough cleaning to prevent reinfection.
Sunburn is often only an issue for outdoor cats as, obviously, indoor cats are not often exposed to the sun at such high levels. Hairless breeds or cats with lighter-colored fur are more at risk of sunburn. While this isn’t always going to be possible, on hotter days, you should do your best to try to keep your cats out of the sun during the hottest part of the day when the sun is highest in the sky or directly overhead. The occasional sunburn will cause discomfort, but repeated bouts can lead to melanoma.
A lot of cat owners are surprised to discover that their cats can suffer from allergies too. They can be allergic to any number of environmental factors like dust, pollen, cleaning chemicals, grass and even their food. Again, excessive grooming and itching could indicate an allergy. Their fur might also become patchy. A vet will be best able to diagnose an allergy; however, through vigilance, you might be able to work out when their allergies are at their peak, and this could help you to work out what the trigger is.
A lot of cats experience feline acne; they are often more noticeable in hairless or lighter-coloured cats. The blackheads often appear around the faces, predominantly on the chin and lips, but they may also occur in other places too. They can cause swelling and redness. Unfortunately, the cause of feline acne does remain somewhat of a mystery. However, there has been some speculation that it can result from environmental triggers and bacteria getting into the skin.
Alopecia in cats is often brought on by stress. Changes in their environment can cause stress which often leads to behavioural changes and stress. Excessive grooming is often a coping mechanism that they use; you might also notice mood shifts and that they spend longer sleeping. Sometimes the trigger for the stress and anxiety is obvious like maybe you went on holiday and left your cat in the care of someone else, other times it might be harder to work out the cause of stress, but it is worth doing. You could also try pheromone plug-ins.
Outdoor cats are often scrappier, getting into fights with other cats. When they get into these fights, they are often left with a few cuts and grazes. The injuries are often uncomfortable, and thus the cat ends up scratching the area. This can then make the injury worse and leave it vulnerable to infection. If the wounds fill with puss, then the resulting abscess can be incredibly painful and uncomfortable for the cat. They need to be treated by a vet.
Cats, like humans, can also suffer from dandruff. Dandruff, accompanied by excessive itching, dry fur and even hair loss too, is often indicative of endocrine dermatosis. This is a skin condition found in cats which are thought to be caused by a hormonal imbalance. This will need to be diagnosed by a vet who can then advise you on the best course of treatment.
Finally, ringworm is a highly contagious fungal infection that can easily pass between animals and even across the species barrier to humans. It is usually characterized by round patches of rash on the skin. There is also hair loss associated with ringworm, especially in cats. The rash often has a deeper red ring in its center. Ringworm cannot be treated at home. You need to take your cat to the vet. They will then prescribe you an antifungal treatment for the cat, and you will need to deep clean and sterilize your home to ensure that there isn’t a chance for reinfection.
As you can see above, the treatment options do vary depending on the skin condition that your cat is presenting with. Some of them can easily be dealt with at home, and some of them will require a visit to the vet. Luckily, all of the above-mentioned conditions are treatable and can be cured or managed with the right medications. That being said, the treatment options are not always cheap. This is why having cat insurance in place is important. Purely Pet Insurance offers different levels of coverage for you to choose from. You need to have the insurance in place before the issue occurs, as most providers do not cover existing health issues.
What You Can Do
While most conditions will need veterinary intervention, there are a few things that you can do at home to help to keep your cats skin and fur healthy and cared for. Firstly, you need to remember to treat your cat for fleas regularly. Most treatments need to be carried out every month or so, but make sure to read the instructions on the product itself. It would also make sense to check your cat over regularly, looking for any scabs, missing fur, redness or even dandruff.
The diet that you feed your cat can also impact its coat; for example, omega 3 is great for their fur and skin, so try to ensure that they have enough of it in their diet. If allergies are an issue, then a hypoallergenic diet could be a good idea. Try to do your best to notice any behaviors that are going to worsen skin problems and stop them from doing it. Obviously, this is not always going to be possible. If they really have trouble leaving their skin alone, then it might be worth considering a cone. Lastly, taking them to the vet for early intervention is also advisable if you notice any of the above behaviors.
A lot of the symptoms for the above conditions are interchangeable, meaning the same symptoms can have different causes. That is why you must take kitty to her second best friend, her veterinarian, for a diagnosis! Always be on the look-out for issues that are not right with your cat and then get her to a professional who can prescribe proper treatment and future prevention. Doing everything you can to care for their skin and fur at home can help to act as a preventative measure. Skin conditions are common in cats, and luckily, for the most part, they are pretty easy to deal with, but work paw in hand with your veterinarian.