Diagnosing Cat Skin Lesions

Cat skin lesions or skin sores often accompany various illnesses. The sores may appear along with skin inflammation and discharge, commonly known as pus. Although skin lesions occur due to minor factors such as dermatitis, it's important to diagnose if the lesion is a symptom of cancer, particularly in older pets. Pet owners should examine the cat's skin during routine grooming procedures to detect patches of thickening skin, localized alopecia and flaky skin.

Causes of Cat Skin Lesions

Since skin lesions often accompany other illness, it's important to know the various health concerns associated with them. Common causes include fungal or bacterial infections, tumors, allergic reactions, viral infections and disorders such as hyperthyroidism. Cats suffering from mast cell tumors, fibrosacoma and squamous cell carcinoma develop skin lesions as the disease progresses. Cat skin is also hypersensitive to environmental allergens, flea saliva and mosquito bites. This in turn causes excessive itching and skin lesions. Fungal and bacterial infections that cause skin lesions include cryptococcosis, pyoderma and aspergillosis. Since the cause of cat skin lesions vary, diagnosis is complex. Pet owners should inform the vet if the cat is prescribed any herbal medications or supplements as these can also contribute to allergy and skin lesions.

Diagnosis of Cat Skin Lesions

The vet will perform a thorough physical examination of the cat and make note of the pet's previous medical history. Since age often narrows down the type of disease the cat is susceptible to, it's important to consider the pet's age during diagnosis. Skin lesions that are seasonal in nature may be attributed to environmental factors such as the presence of pollen in the air. The vet will also ask if the cat suffers from chronic skin lesions and response to initial treatment. During diagnosis, the vet will look for signs of underlying illnesses such as conjunctivitis and evaluate the location of skin lesions and infection.

Further Diagnostic Testing

In order to obtain a definite diagnosis the vet will perform skin scraping tests to obtain a sample of infected tissue for laboratory analysis. Discharge from sores will also be sent for analysis to determine the type of infection present. The vet may perform additional ultrasounds and x-rays to rule out internal tumors and inflammation. Fine needle aspirate tests and biopsies are also conducted to diagnose malignant cells.

Tips for Pet Owners:

  • It's important to diagnose skin lesions promptly to avoid complications and treat severe health concerns.
  • Products that the cat is sensitive to should be discontinued.
  • If the skin lesions accompany contagious skin diseases, it's best to keep sick cats away from healthy pets.
  • If the vet prescribes antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that cause skin lesions, medication should be administered on time and shouldn't be discontinued without prior vet approval.
  • Avoid the use of over the counter medications to treat skin sores or lesions, as it's necessary to administer prescribed medication to treat the specific condition present.

The treatment for skin lesions caused by certain cancers is surgery and chemotherapy. Less severe causes may be treated with oral medication and adequate home care. Once the cause of skin lesions is established, it's necessary to exert caution to prevent recurrence or re-infection.