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Skin Problems in Cats

When Is It Time to See the Vet?

You should visit your vet for an exam as soon as you notice any abnormality in your pet’s skin, such as excessive hair loss, flaking and scaling, redness and bald patches, or if your pet begins to excessively scratch, lick and/or bite areas on his fur. 

How Are Skin Problems Diagnosed?

After obtaining a history and performing a thorough physical examination of your cat, your vet may perform some of the following diagnostic tests in order to find the cause of your cat’s symptoms:

  • Skin scraping with findings evaluated under a microscope to check for mites
  • ‘Tape test’ to check for parasites
  • Individual hair examination under a microscope
  • Bacterial culture and sensitivity tests
  • Skin biopsy
  • Food and other allergy testing
  • Blood tests to assess your cat’s overall health
  • Microscopic evaluation of cells to establish if bacteria or yeast are present

Which Cats Are Prone to Skin Problems?

Because of the wide ranges of causes, cats of all ages and breeds are susceptible to issues involving skin. Young, elderly, immunocompromised and cats living in overcrowded, stressful environments may be more susceptible to skin problems than others.

How Can Skin Problems Be Prevented?

  • Use natural, hypoallergenic soaps and shampoos recommended for use in cats.
  • Brush your cat regularly to prevent matting of hair.
  • Feed your cat a healthy, balanced food without fillers or artificial ingredients.
  • Implement a flea-treatment program recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Thoroughly clean and vacuum your home (and remember to always throw away the bag).
  • Provide calm living conditions for your cat.
  • Your vet may prescribe skin creams and/or oral medications to prevent skin problems.

How Can Skin Problems Be Treated?

Ask your vet about the following treatments:

  • Topical products, including shampoos, dips and sprays, to prevent and treat parasites
  • A balanced diet to help maintain healthy skin and coat
  • Antibiotic or antifungal medications
  • A dietary supplement containing essential fatty acids
  • Corticosteroids and antihistamines may be prescribed to control itching.
  • Hypoallergenic diet for food allergies

 

 

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WebMD Veterinary Reference from the ASPCA

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