The 8 Most Common Feline Skin Conditions

Feline skin is your pet's largest organ. A healthy and well-groomed cat is less likely to suffer from feline skin problems, but even the most robust cat can contract an infection, develop an allergy or fall victim to a disease that affects the skin.

Feline skin problems can be mild or severe. Some can be treated at home, but more serious conditions require the advice of a professional.

1. Acne

Located on the chin and lips of cats, acne is not usually a serious skin problem. Gentle cleansing may be all that is needed. If the condition worsens, an antibiotic may be prescribed

2. Alopecia

Alopecia or hair loss is not a disease. It's a symptom and can be caused by disease, trauma or infection. Hair loss may be limited to small patches or appear in combination with secondary skin infections, scaling and all-over shedding. To determine the cause of alopecia, your veterinarian may order a number of smears and cultures as well as blood and urine tests.

3. Airborne Allergies (Atopy)

Cats are subject to allergic reactions to airborne allergens. Cats suffering from atopy have an abnormally sensitive reaction to environmental allergens that results in itching, hair loss and crusty skin lesions. Secondary skin infections can develop from the trauma caused by scratch wounds.

4. Food Allergies

Symptoms of a food allergy are similar to airborne allergies, but they're not seasonal. The itchiness is usually confined to the face and ears. Switch to a hypoallergenic cat food with limited ingredients or speak to your veterinarian about an elimination diet. These veterinary foods contain very restricted, hypoallergenic ingredients that allow you and your vet to isolate the source of your cat's allergies.

5. Mites

Mites are responsible for several types of mange. Microscopic mites burrow into the skin to lay eggs, causing intense itching. Ear mites confine their misery to the ear area. Cheyletiella Dermitisis is caused by a species of mite that causes flaky skin. Their burrowing activity causes the flakes to move-thus, the common name "walking dandruff."

6. Ringworm

A contagious fungal infection, ringworm affects the skin, hair and claws of affected cats. Signs include patchy hair loss and itchy, scaly or reddened skin around the face, ears and tail. A fungal culture is needed to provide an accurate diagnosis. Treatment of all pets in the household should begin at once, and all living areas should be cleaned and disinfected.

7. Hives and Rashes

Hives and rashes are usually the result of an insect bite or inhaled allergen. The skin may be raised, red and very itchy. Hives and rashes disappear quickly and do not normally require treatment.

8. Tumors

Tumors are simply abnormal growths of skin. They can be benign or malignant. If you find a lump or suspicious growth anywhere on your cat's body, consult your veterinarian. Early detection and treatment for any type of tumor will ensure the best possible outcome for your cat.

Groom and interact with your cat regularly. Aside from the known health benefits (for both of you), time spent handling your cat can be used to detect any early signs of skin trouble.