Hill's Pet Nutrition Orange tabby cat cleaning its paw.

Skin Problems to Watch For in Your Cat

If you have a cat, you've seen the effort she takes to keep her fur clean. Because of this well-groomed exterior, however, it may take some time before you identify skin conditions that can be bothering her. In fact, you may not even notice any sort of irritation until you see an increase in itching, loss of hair, or visible sores as a result.

How to Identify a Problem Right Away

Wondering if your cat has a skin problem? Ideally, your cat's fur is clean and fluffy. Her skin should also feel smooth when you pet her. No redness, lumps, flaking, or any other signs of irritation. So if you discover red patches, pimples, scabs, open sores, scaly patches, or hair loss, she may have a skin condition that needs treatment. Look out for a change in skin odor as well, and any increases in scratching, licking, or itching in places she's favoring more often.

Does your cat have an itch? These cat skin conditions may be irritating your favorite feline:

Common Infections

Fungal infections are some of the most typical. Ringworm and yeast infections are two possible reasons why your cat may be experiencing skin problems. Keep in mind they can transfer to other family members quite easily, so early identification is key.

Of course cats are also prone to parasites and viruses, just as you are. Fleas and mites not only make your cat itch, but both can prove to be a starting point for major skin issues. Even if your cat is not an outdoor cat it is wise to consider flea and tick medicine to help prevent these pests from biting her. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations. Certain infections often have side effects of skin irritations. One of those is feline cowpox virus, which the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery says cats can get if they've been exposed to rodents that carry the illness. This virus, while not very common in the United States, has seen more cases throughout Europe.

Environmental Influence

When it comes to her skin, the environment can have a three-pronged effect on your cat:

  • Environmental allergies: pollen, dust and mold are three common allergens that can lead to cat skin problems. Your veterinarian will be able to help you determine if this is the issue. It's best to keep your cat away from areas that are laden with pollen, dust and mold.  Before allowing her back into such areas, take all the necessary steps to clean them thoroughly.
  • Food allergies: Skin issues are one symptom of a food allergy. Cats who also experience problems with digestion, such as vomiting or diarrhea, may also show skin problems as another warning sign.
  • Medicine: If she's taking a medication, it may have an adverse effect, and you may notice skin problems occurring. Contact your vet before discontinuing use or changing medicine.

What You Can Do

You may still be unsure why your cat can't stop licking and itching, and that's fine. Make an appointment with her vet so she can get the relief she needs. Your cat may need to be treated with medicine for one of these conditions. It is always important to keep an eye on your cat after giving her medicine to ensure that the issue is improving and not worsening. If the issue doesn't slowly start to clear up then there might be other cat skin conditions at play. A vet check-up will help ensure she gets the care she needs. Make sure to have a list of all of the symptoms you have noticed in your cat to help her veterinarian diagnosis the skin irritant.

You love your cat and hate to see her uncomfortable. Even though she is a great self-groomer, check her fur and skin regularly for any possible issues, and keep an eye out for changes in smell, itching, and cleaning routine. The sooner these issues are addressed, the better your cat will feel.

Contributor Bio

Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.