Cat Skin Diseases

By understanding the symptoms and treatments of the 4 most common cat skin diseases, you'll be prepared to handle them if they afflict your cat. These skin conditions can affect any cat at any age. They're not simply something that hits an elderly cat or a disease that is particular to one or two breeds.


Abscesses affect many cats, particularly outdoor cats. Cat saliva is riddled with bacteria and during a fight, a simple cat bite turns into a major infection in little time. As the abscess develops, it fills with pus, becomes incredibly sore and needs immediate treatment. An untreated abscess can cause blood poisoning in a cat. Do not mistakenly think it will go away in time.

At the veterinarian's office, the abscess is opened and flushed out with an antiseptic solution. Antibiotics are given either orally or through an IV to kill off any infection that may have spread. A drain is inserted into the abscess to ensure new pus drains away and doesn't create a new abscess.

Feline Acne

Feline acne presents itself as a series of blackheads on a cat's chin. The causes behind this cat skin disease are hard to pinpoint. It might be stress in one cat and improper grooming habits in another. Another possibility is that your cat's body overproduces oils found naturally within the hair follicles.

There is no cure for feline acne. You can manage the condition with benzoyl peroxide products and adding essential fatty acids to your cat's diet.

Ringworm Fungus

Ringworm is actually a fungal infection. Called ringworm because of the ring-shaped lesions, these skin diseases are infectious, even to humans.

Humid and warm households will have a harder time getting rid of ringworm. The fungus thrives on heat and humidity. In addition, the spores can live for up to two years. It's important to boil or throw out any cat brushes or combs. Wash all bedding in bleach and spray furniture with a solution of vinegar and water.

Your veterinarian will provide you with an anti-fungal ointment. It's recommended that your cat's fur, especially in long-haired breeds, be shaved to the skin to ensure the ointment reaches the fungus. Sulfur dips and shampoos are also effective.

Feline Miliary Dermatitis

Similar to eczema, feline miliary dermatitis has several causes including:

  • Autoimmune disease
  • Bacterial infections
  • Food allergies
  • Fungal infections
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Mites
  • Poor nutrition
  • Reactions to flea bites
  • Yeast infections

The rash appears as a series of red, crusty pimples that usually target a specific area of the body. While generally easy to diagnose, it's often hard to pinpoint a trigger.

Treatments depend on the cause of this cat skin disease. If fleas are found to be behind the itchy rash, topical flea medications will cure it. If it is food allergies, you'll need to spend time pinpointing and eliminating the allergen from your cat's diet.