Skin problems are one of the perks of cat ownership. Whether your kitty adventures into the great outdoors or not, there’s a good chance he’ll suffer from skin problems caused by parasites, infection or allergies at some point in his life. What starts with the occasional scratch and a little bit of shedding can turn into a real mess in no time at all.
While most skin disorders don’t put your cat’s life in danger, they are very irritating and can leave his body vulnerable to other health problems. Keep your eyes out for excessive shedding and scratching. Bald pots and dry, scaly skin are signs that not all is well with your furry friend’s coat.
Common skin problems
Bacteria and other organisms, like the ringworm fungus, are a common source of skin irritation. Your kitty’s skin protects him from infection most of the time, but tiny injuries or another disease can weaken his defenses enough to allow pathogens through. Be careful when handling cats with skin problems, because ringworm and some other diseases can spread to people on contact.
Fleas, mites and other parasites are common in cats, but they certainly aren’t limited to felines. The real trouble with these nasty pests is that they can spread not only to other pets, but to people as well. They are harder to treat on cats thanks to the protective forest of fur, but they are still very aggravating when they get under your skin.
Allergies are one of the main sources of skin problems in cats. Your kitty may be intolerant of an ingredient in his food, like a particular source of protein, or he may be allergic to dust, pollen or fleas, according to a Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine publication.
Cats that suffer from an allergy to flea saliva can lose huge swaths of hair after only a few bites. You may not even notice a minor infestation of fleas, but your cat’s large bald patches and constant itching tell the true story.
Managing feline skin issues
The first step of the treatment process should involve a veterinarian. Skin problems tend to come in groups and some skin damage is just a side-effect of an internal problem like hyperthyroidism. Skin infections are easy to treat with the proper antibiotics and other medication, but can persist for months without medical assistance.
Keep track of any other unusual symptoms as well. Trouble keeping food down in addition to skin problems can signal a food allergy. While your vet will probably have to run tests to confirm a diagnosis, you can make the process faster and more accurate by providing detailed information.
Preventative ointment for parasites is a great way to stop fleas and other pests from gaining a foothold underneath your cat’s fur. This is particularly important for outdoor cats, but full-time inside kitties can get them too. Keeping your cat indoors all the time drastically reduces his exposure to allergens, parasites and sources of infection, so keep that in mind before choosing to let your furry friend explore the great outdoors. Keeping your house clean with regular vacuuming and good air circulation helps reduce the amount of allergens your cat is exposed to, according to the ASPCA website.
Don’t forget to brush your kitty several times a week, even if he’s in apparently good health. Not only does grooming strengthen the bond between you and your pet, it also gives you the opportunity to look for emerging skin health issues. There’s not much you can do to completely prevent skin problems from happening, but it’s important to have them treated as soon as possible to prevent them from getting out of hand.