Diagnosing Feline Skin Conditions

Feline skin conditions can be caused by several factors and owners should be aware of warning signs to watch out for in order to diagnose cat coat and skin problems and administer the right treatment. Preventative care and hygiene are also important to control chronic skin and hair conditions and prevent future problems from occuring.

Causes of Common Feline Skin Problems

Parasites: Flea allergy dermatitis is one of the most common causes of skin problems in cats. Hypersensitivity to fleas can cause hair loss, red bumps or scabs and biting, licking and scratching of the skin. These symptoms are usually seen at the base of the tail or on the cat's back. Allergic reactions to mosquitos and mites can also cause similar allergy symptoms.

Allergies: Allergic reactions may also be caused by inhalants like cigarette smoke, from contact with a substance that your cat is allergic to and food allergies. Symptoms include a skin rash of red spots on the face and head that can turn into scabs and may become infected.

Ringworm: This fungal infection is very common in cats, especially kittens and cats with poor immune systems. Symptoms of ringworm include circles of hair loss, often on the heads or legs, dandruff, itchy skin, infected claws and inflammation. Ringworm can be passed on to humans so owners should seek veterinarian treatment for their cat as soon as ringworm symptoms appear.

Psychological: Excessive licking, scratching or biting of cat fur, skin or the coat may be a sign of a psychological problem. A stressed or bored cat with little stimulation may turn to this obsessive behavior and cause sores which may become seriously infected if left untreated.

Preventing and Treating Feline Skin Conditions

Flea control: Keeping your cat up to date on flea control with products like monthly topical medications, flea collars and powders or oral medications, especially during problem seasons like spring and summer.

Build up immunity: Feed your cat a healthy and well-balanced diet and make sure he is getting the right nutrition to maintain a strong immune system. Ask your veterinarian about vitamin supplements if you are concerned.

Groom your cat: Excessive grooming can also be a problem and cause hair loss so finding the right balance is important. Brush your cat's fur and bathe him or use a groomer. Check your cat's skin for signs of sores, parasites or skin condition symptoms. Start handling your cat's paws and checking his coat and fur when he is a kitten so he becomes used to this routine and enjoys grooming. It is also important to maintain a clean environment so your cat remains stress-free and hygienic.

Topical/oral medication and shampoos: Your veterinarian may prescribe a medication or ointment for infections, a rash or other feline skin condition. Follow the directions and continue to use the medication until it is finished, even if the problem clears up quickly.