Treating Cat Skin Diseases

By Tess Thompson

From minor conditions like cat dandruff to malignant tumors, a cat’s skin can be a reflection of nearly all kinds of medical conditions. Itchy skin can potentially lead to feline hair loss, feline acne and lick granulomas. Treating skin disorders in cats, therefore, depends mainly on the underlying health condition of the cat.

Skin conditions that are caused by flea infestations can be treated by killing adult fleas in the cat. Preventing re-infestation needs a more thorough approach wherein the fleas are eliminated completely from the surrounding environment. There are new products available that act only on the receptors present in insects and are safe for cats as well as kittens.

Fungal infections on the skin caused by ringworm usually disappear on their own in healthy cats. Early treatment, however, is necessary so that escalation to other parts of the body can be prevented. Since ringworm is an infectious disease and can pass on to humans as well as other animals, it should be treated as soon as the infection is noticed. Treatment is done through systemic oral medication or through topical application of anti-fungal creams.

Feline acne is a much underrated disease as it is usually mild and often goes unnoticed. It is caused by over activity of sebaceous glands that secrete a greasy substance called sebum. Initial treatment is done with the aid of antibacterial surgical scrubs. In cases of secondary infection, an antibiotic therapy is required based on the bacterial culture and sensitivity test reports.

White and light colored cats are more susceptible to developing squamous cell carcinoma from excessive exposure to the sun. This malignant tumor can spread locally to destroy surrounding tissue. Minor conditions can be managed by restricting exposure and keeping the cat indoors during the hottest periods of the day. A biopsy is done to establish the stage to which the tumor has developed. Surgery is the obvious choice for the treatment. Commonly affected parts are ear flaps, eyelids and nose. Surgery on the nose or the eyelid is difficult to perform and may necessitate additional treatment by radiation or Cryosurgery.

Eosinophilic granuloma complex is a group of conditions that are caused by excessive licking by the cat on an affected site on the skin. These occur in three forms - ulcer, plaque or granuloma. Treatment depends upon the underlying cause, which could be an allergic response to fleas or environmental/diet allergens. Whereas flea control is easy, getting at the root of food allergens involves a tedious process of elimination to determine the exact causes of allergy. Small lesions are self-healing but severe conditions require antibiotics or hormonal therapy.

Cowpox virus is an uncommon occurrence, but cats that hunt rodents are vulnerable to this infection. Skin lesions from pox infection are self limiting. However, where the immune system is suppressed due to medications, the infection can take a turn for the worse. Treatment involves hospitalization, intravenous fluids and antibiotic therapy.

Treating skin diseases in cats is virtually similar to treating dog skin problems . The difference lies in the fact that cats have a higher tolerance level for hormonal therapies. Due to some inexplicable reasons, hormone-related hair loss is practically non-existent in cats - a common occurrence in humans and dogs.

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