Skin Diseases In Cats

Common skin issues in cats, symptoms and treatment

Not only does the skin protects the cat against various external influences; but also it helps maintain a water balance, regulate body temperature and protects it from sun exposure. What are common skin diseases in cats?

Symptoms of skin diseases in cats

Skin diseases or dermatoses cause damage to the layers of the skin: epidermis, dermis, hypodermis. Typically, any change in the epidermis (the surface layer) should alert the cat owner. 

The most common symptoms are:

  • Itching (scratching or licking skin)
  • Erythema (redness resulting inflammation)
  • Alopecia (significant hair loss)
  • Abnormal appearance of the hair and skin (greasy hair, dry, dull, films) 

What are the most common causes of skin diseases in cats?

  • Presence of external parasites ( ticks, fleas, worms, ringworms, sandflies)
  • Allergic reactions to fleas bites, food and autoimmune allergies. 
  • Viral diseases (herpes, calicivirus)
  • Tumors (squamous cell carcinoma) 
  • Secondary bacterial damage (occurring after the original damage)  
  • Behavioural disorder due to stress

These are most commonly found skin diseases in cats

Eczema (dermatitis)

Eczema in cats is a form of dermatitis, causing inflammation of the skin. The extent of eczema can vary, from mild forms (mild redness of the skin) to more intense forms (scabs and inflamed skin). The cause of eczema is not always easy to determine, as the disease can have both internal and external origins.

Cats can be allergic to many elements of their diet, but also other external factors in their environment. If you suspect that your cat is suffering from contact eczema (allergies), it is essential to examine what equipment the cat is resting on, if a new cleaning product is being used in the home, which plants are within the cat’s reach, etc.

If you cannot identify any link between the cat’s allergies and possible changes in their diet or the external environment, consult a veterinarian for a complete examination of the cause. Allergies are usually manifested by itchy skin. 

How to treat allergies in cats?

It is not possible to cure an animal of an allergy. However, some treatments can relieve the symptoms and considerably improve the animal’s quality of life.

Ideally, you should identify the allergen(s) involved to eliminate them. For example, for animals suffering from DAPP, an antiparasitic treatment should be carried out all year round to prevent the animal from being bitten by fleas. In the case of a food allergy, the diet should exclude the allergen, and a hypoallergenic medical food may be necessary (on prescription from the veterinarian). Get more information about cat allergies here.


Ringworm is a fungal infection that mainly affects older cats and kittens with reduced immune systems. If you observe circular lesions accompanied by hair loss, it is most likely that your cat has ringworm.

Ringworm can be cured naturally in 60 to 100 days. To reduce the risk of contamination to other animals or humans, contact a veterinarian for treatment quickly. Cats can, however, be carriers of ringworm without showing any symptoms. If a family member or another cat has ringworm, it is, therefore, essential to treat all cats in the home, even if they are not showing any symptoms. To read more about ringworms in cats, click here.


It is caused by parasites that live on the skin of the cat, which can quickly spread between animals, making it very contagious. The first sign of scabies on the body is an intense itch, which causes skin inflammation. There are also other types of scabies, like ear scabies or sarcoptic scabies. 

Hair loss

Cats can lose their hair for several reasons, including stress. A pregnant cat or a cat who has just given birth often loses a lot of hair. Flea bites can also cause hair loss because most cats are sensitive to saliva from parasites. You can read more about hair loss in cats here.

Prevention of skin diseases in cats

Preventing the onset of cat skin diseases can be challenging especially in cases of skin tumors and hormonal disorders. On the other hand, contamination by external parasites, such as fleas, can easily be reduced with regular application of pest control products. You can find them in the form of tablets or pipettes, at pet stores, pharmacies or veterinary clinics. Read more here.


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