Symptoms of the 4 Most Common Cat Skin Conditions

Whether mild or severe, cat skin conditions are often the most readily recognized diseases that your pet may face. Symptoms for these conditions tend to be noticeable upon quick visual inspection of your cat. However, properly diagnosing a skin condition requires a bit more care and knowledge. Because a number of feline skin diseases may be serious and even fatal, it is important to learn to distinguish between different conditions. Learn to recognize the symptoms of the most common skin ailments so that you can respond quickly and help your pet get the veterinary treatment that he needs.


Pet allergies are caused by a particular agent that your pet's body is unable to process. When his body comes into contact with that allergen, it responds in a variety of negative ways, leading to an allergic reaction. While allergies can affect a wide range of body parts and systems in your cat's body, the skin is frequently the primary source of allergy symptoms.

Some of the most common skin-related symptoms associated with allergic reactions include the following:

  • Hives or rashes
  • Irritated patches
  • Bumpy or rough patches of skin
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Excessive scratching
  • Dry or flaky skin

Watch out for other signs of feline allergies, including wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing. If you detect any of these symptoms in your cat, have him examined by a veterinarian for potential allergic reactions.


Parasites like mites, fleas and ticks are common conditions among cats, particularly for animals that spend a good deal of time outside. These animals live and breed on your pet's body, feeding off of dead skin cells and causing a number of damaging health effects. Diagnosis and treatment depends somewhat upon the specific parasite infesting your cat's body, but the symptoms generally appear as follows:

  • Patchy hair loss
  • Scratching, chewing or licking
  • Visible signs of parasites on the hair or skin
  • Red and irritated skin


Not to be confused with a parasitic infestation, ringworm is actually a fungal infection of your pet's skin. Ringworm is a contagious condition that spreads quickly between pets. It typically affects the face, ears and genital region, although it can also damage the claws and other parts of the body. The most common symptoms of a ringworm infection are:

  • Scaly skin
  • Patchy hair loss, particularly around the primary areas of infection
  • Red, raised and irritated skin

In order to properly diagnose ringworm, your veterinarian will have to take a fungal culture sample from your pet's skin. It's important to check all other pets (and yourself) for signs of this infection as well, as it spreads quickly between animals in a home.

Tumors and Cysts

While cancer is one of the causes of unusual growths on your pet's skin, it's not always the source of a tumor or cyst. Tumors may be benign and relatively harmless to your pet's health. However, because they can also pose a serious danger, it's wise to have your pet examined immediately upon detection of any of the following symptoms:

  • Unusual lumps or bumps in the skin, often hard to the touch
  • Discharge or unexplained bleeding
  • Difficulty or pain while walking or moving around
  • Loss of appetite or weight

It is a good idea to routinely check over your pet's body for signs of unusual growths. If you detect anything unusual, have your cat inspected by a vet as soon as possible.