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Skin Lumps or Bumps in Cats

During the course of grooming, playing with or handling your cat, you may discover a lump or bump or or beneath the skin. To learn what it may be, see this table on lumps or bumps on or beneath the skin.

  • Abscess: A painful collection of pus at the site of a bite or puncture wound. Frequently found after cat fights. Forms a firm swelling that becomes soft with time. Purulent discharge.
  • Cancer: A lump that indicates cancer is characterized by rapid enlargement; appears hard or fixed to surrounding tissue; any lump growing from bone; a lump that starts to bleed; a mole that begins to spread or ulcerate; an unexplained open sore that does not heal, especially on the feet or legs. The only way to tell for sure is to remove and study the lump under a microscope. Better to check out a benign lump than to miss a malignant one.
  • Epidermal inclusion cyst: A firm, smooth lump beneath the skin. May grow slowly. May discharge cheesy material and become infected. Otherwise, not painful.
  • Grubs/Cuterebra: Inch-long fly larvae that form cystlike lumps beneath the skin with a hole in the center for the insect to breathe. Often found beneath the chin, on the neck, or along the abdomen.
  • Hematoma: A collection of clotted blood beneath the skin; often involves the ears. Caused by trauma. May be painful.
  • Mycetoma: Mass or nodule beneath the skin with an open tract to the surface draining a granular material. Caused by a fungus.
  • Skin papilloma: These grow out from the skin and may look like a wart or a piece of chewing gum stuck to the skin. Not painful or dangerous.
  • Sporotrichosis: Skin nodule with overlying hair loss and wet surface of pus at the site of a puncture wound or break in the skin. Caused by a fungus.

Any sort of lump, bump, or growth found on or beneath the skin is, by definition, a tumor, which literally means a swelling. Tumors are classified as benign when they are not cancer, and malignant when they are.

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