Cat Skin Problems: Does My Cat Have It?

Most cats scratch sometimes, but if you find that the scratching and grooming have become excessive, or if your cat looks to be unhappy, cat skin issues may be present. Here’s all you need to know about cat skin problems and what you can do to stop them.

Skin problems in cats

The skin of a cat serves as a barrier between the inside of its body and the outside environment. This barrier might be compromised if your cat has a skin problem.

Skin problems weaken a cat’s body's defences and, in many circumstances, causes a great deal of pain. As the skin of a cat is one of the few organs that can be seen with the naked eye, cat skin illness is easy to detect.

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Most common skin problems in cats

Here’s a list of the most common skin issues that can be found in cats:

    1. Ear mites

      Ear mites are prevalent in cats, especially in kittens who may have inherited them from their mother. However, ear mites can affect cats of any age.

      Ear mites may be quite irritating, and cats will frequently rub and scratch their ears for lengthy periods of time. Ear mites can cause ear irritation, which can progress to a bacterial infection if left untreated.

        2. Miliary dermatitis

          Miliary dermatitis is a common feline skin condition characterised by many tiny, grainy bumps on the skin's surface. Miliary dermatitis is a symptom, not a disease, named after the texture of the skin, which resembles millet grains.

          For indoor-only cats, hypersensitivity to flea bites is the most prevalent cause of miliary dermatitis. Bacterial infections, ringworm infections, other parasite infestations, autoimmune illnesses, and certain malignancies are all possibilities.

            3. Mange

              Mange in cats is an inflammatory skin condition caused by many species of mites, some of which are undetectable to the naked eye and require the use of a microscope to identify. Mites reside in the skin and fur of cats, causing persistent scratching, puffiness, and hair loss around the face, eyelids, neck, and back.

              Scratching can produce scabs and redness since the cat's claws are constantly aimed at the afflicted regions.

              Mites may be treated rapidly with topical treatments, and some of the flea preventives we recommend can also kill mites. If your pet has been diagnosed with mites, clean their bedding, collar, and keep them away from other animals until they are parasite-free.

                4. Allergic reactions

                  Cats are delicate creatures who may develop or have allergies throughout their lives. Pollen, shampoos, home cleaning products, fragrances, cigarette smoke, a range of meals, and fleabites are just a few of the things that cats might be sensitive to.

                  You can consult with your veterinarian to determine the allergen if you believe your cat has an allergy. You can try to avoid exposing your cat to the offending element once you know what's causing the allergy.

                    5. Feline acne

                      On your cat's chin and under their lips, blackheads can develop. The chin might be enlarged and turn red, causing the cat to scratch itself to relieve the irritation. Although the exact origin of feline acne is uncertain, it is likely to be induced by allergies and secondary bacterial infection.

                        6. Flea allergy dermatitis

                          Flea allergic dermatitis appears as itchy, pimple-like lumps on the base of the tail, back of the rear legs, and inner thighs of cats.

                          Although many cats can catch fleas and have no reaction, sensitive cats might have hours or days of symptoms with only one flea bite.

                            7. Abscess

                              Abscesses are one of the most frequent skin disorders in cats. A painful accumulation of pus at the site of a bite or puncture wound is known as an abscess.

                              Abscesses develop a hard swelling that softens with time and might rupture, releasing a purulent discharge.

                              Although most catfight-related abscesses occur on the forequarters or belly, they might occasionally emerge near the tail if a cat is attacked while fleeing. Keeping your cat indoors is the best way to avoid abscesses.

                                8. Contact dermatitis

                                  Red, itchy lumps on cats' skin are a common symptom of skin issues. You'll notice red, itchy lumps and inflamed skin at the site of contact with chemical or other irritants if you have contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis can also be caused by rubber or plastic food plates.

                                    9. Ringworm

                                      Ringworm is a contagious fungal illness that affects both animals and people. Round patches with centre hair loss and a crimson ring around the perimeter are signs of this skin disease.

                                      It only appears as broken hairs around the face and ears in certain cats. Ringworm requires antifungal medicine from a veterinarian, as well as thorough cleaning and sterilisation of the home.

                                        10. Dry skin

                                          Cats, like humans, can get dry skin, especially in low-humidity areas or during the winter when the heat is turned on and the air is dried out. Nutritional problems, such as dehydration or a lack of good fats in the diet, can also cause dry skin.

                                          Symptoms of skin problems in cats

                                          Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

                                          Your cat might have underlying skin problems if shows sign as follows:

                                          • Itchy skin (pruritus)
                                          • Hair loss
                                          • Excessive grooming
                                          • Red or inflamed skin
                                          • Sores and scabs
                                          • Scaly skin
                                          • Bald spots
                                          • Rashes
                                          • Lumps
                                          • Matted hair

                                          Why does my cat have patches of fur missing and sores?

                                          Bald patches in cats can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of these are more concerning than others. Fleas or other external parasites are by far the most prevalent cause of a bald patch on your cat's fur. This is especially frequent on the lower back and tail of your cat.

                                          Hair loss happens when your cat has an allergic reaction to the saliva of fleas, leading them to groom excessively. The size of the bald patch in these cases might range from tiny to fairly big.

                                          Causes of skin problems in cats

                                          Here are some reasons as to why your cat has a skin problem:

                                          • Environmental allergies: Three major allergens that can cause skin issues in cats include pollen, dust, and mould. Your veterinarian can assist you to figure out whether this is the problem.

                                          • Food allergies: One of the signs of a food allergy is skin problems. Cats with digestive issues, such as vomiting or diarrhoea, may also exhibit skin abnormalities as a warning indication.

                                          • Fleas and ticks: Cats, like dogs, are prone to catching these annoying tiny pests. Even indoor-only cats can get fleas from other pets in the house. Fleas may irritate cats, and their bites can trigger an allergic reaction and a lot of scratching in some of them.

                                          • Some cats have skin problems due to genetics, this is more prevalent in certain types of breeds such as Bengal or Persian cats.

                                          • A scrape, cut, or other damage to the skin that causes localised redness and inflammation.

                                          Does the breed of my cat increase its chances of getting skin problems?

                                          Some breeds are more susceptible to obtaining skin issues due to genetics. For example, the Bengal cat's ulcerative planum nasale is a rare and unusual skin condition characterised by fissures, crusts, and ulcers of the planum nasal.

                                          This is exclusively observed in Bengal cats. It was believed that a deficiency caused rapid epidermal turnover and decreased stratum corneum thickness.

                                          On the other hand, the Sphynx, like other hairless cats, may be prone to a skin disease called urticaria pigmentosa. Defective mast cells accumulate in the skin, lymph nodes, liver, spleen, and bone marrow in this uncommon disease. On the skin, it generally appears as red papules.

                                          Additionally, idiopathic seborrhea is a disease that Persian cats are known to inherit. This primary skin condition causes the skin glands to overproduce an oily, waxy material, which collects in the fur and stinks.

                                          Seborrhea may affect any breed of cat in the same way it affects Persians: the skin becomes red and inflamed, which leads to scratching and more irritation.

                                          How to treat cat skin problems?

                                          There are many ways in which you can help your cat get better:


                                          You can try treating its skin issues with medication. To treat ringworm or another fungal infection, your veterinarian will prescribe an antifungal medicine.

                                          To treat feline demodicosis or ear mites, anti-parasitic medicine may be administered. You may need to give your cat a medication antiseborrheic shampoo every three days until the illness is under control.

                                          Switch its diet

                                          If a food allergy is the root of the problem, your cat will need to eat a hypoallergenic diet to avoid the allergen. If your cat's skin illness is caused by diabetes, he or she will need to follow a specific diet.

                                          Besides that, you can try feeding it raw cat food. It is said that a raw diet can help support skin cell protein function to help reduce inflammation. Since this diet has a high moisture level, it will help keep your cat hydrated.

                                          Since raw diets can be hard to make from scratch, you can try PetCubes Raw Cat Food. It is made with the next nutrients and is super easy to prepare.

                                          Home remedies

                                          You can try some of these home remedies for cat skin problems:

                                          Apple cider vinegar

                                          You can try using apple cider vinegar for cat skin problems. The acidic nature of your pet's skin is restored with vinegar, which kills germs or bacteria and reduces itching.

                                          Combine equal parts apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle. This solution should be sprayed immediately on your pet's coat. If you have open sores or wounds, don't use this approach.

                                          Coconut oil

                                          Coconut oil’s fat content keeps your pet's skin well moisturised and supports the formation of healthy skin and hair. Coconut oil, when administered orally, can help your pet's immune system. Depending on the size of your pet, add one teaspoon to one tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil to his or her food.


                                          Oatmeal relieves itching and provides a calming sensation. Make an oatmeal bath for your cat by mixing one cup of oats powder with one gallon of warm water in a tub. Allow 15-20 minutes for your pet to soak in it. Using a soft towel, thoroughly dry your pet. This can be done once a day.

                                          How to prevent cat skin problems?

                                          Here are some ways in which you can prevent skin problems from arising in your cat:

                                          • Feed it healthy food: To maintain your cat's skin healthy, start by feeding it high-quality food. For example, you can try PetCubes Wild Kangaroo Cat Food as it is made with a super formula that is best for cats with skin allergies.

                                          • Regularly groom your cat: By assisting them to do so, you can detect skin issues faster and easier. You can also stop excessive grooming this way.

                                          • Reduce its stress levels: Overgrooming can be caused by psychogenic skin disorders, therefore reducing stress for your cat can help. Request stress-relieving items from your veterinarian, such as cat pheromone diffusers.

                                          • Use flea shampoo: Even with indoor cats, flea and tick preventatives are essential. You can bathe your cat with flea shampoo once every month to reduce its possibility of getting these pesky things.

                                          • Hydrate your cat: Constantly ensure your cat has drunk enough water daily. You can increase its water intake by getting it a water fountain as cats prefer to drink from running water.

                                          Are cat skin problems contagious to humans?

                                          Yes, some cat skin problems can affect humans. For example, scabies may be transmitted from sick cats to people, where they burrow into the skin and create painfully, raised sores, though they are not as prevalent as flea infections.

                                          Topical ointments to relieve itching, rigorous treatment of infected pets, and meticulous washing of garments and bedding are all common treatments for people.


                                          Compared to dogs, cats' coats and skin usually require less attention. Skin issues in cats are far less prevalent than they are in dogs. You will become familiar with your cat's coat and skin if you brush him once a week. This will make it easier for you to spot any skin problems in your cat early on and seek treatment from your veterinarian.

                                          Reviewed by: 

                                          Dr Francis is one of the top wildlife nutritionists in Asia. Originating from Montreal, Canada, he left at 21 to pursue his Masters and subsequently a PhD in wildlife nutrition at Oxford Brookes University. Instead of taking the path of common animal science to learn about farm animals, or through the veterinarian space and taking a certificate in nutrition, he took the road less travelled to dive deep into the world of animal ecology, metabolism and nutrition.