What is Cat dermatology?

Cat dermatology is the study of skin issues and conditions in things of that nature.

Dr. Bob Parrish
Carolina Value Pet Care

How do skin conditions impact the health and wellbeing of your cat?

Quite importantly and significantly in a lot of cats. First, what do we consider in this big umbrella of cat dermatology or any dermatology? The things that we think about and look for primarily in cats are skin cancer, because cats can get cancer just like people can, skin allergies, which we do see in a lot of cats, and ringworms, which have nothing to do with worms, but a fungus causes it. Those aren't the only issues we see with cat skin, but those are certainly the most significant issues we see with cats when we're dealing with cat dermatology.

What are some signs and symptoms of skin issues in your cat?

When people come to us or any new veterinarian for skin conditions in the cats, the thing we're going to see most commonly is biting, scratching, licking, and chewing excessively. Cats have a nature of grooming themselves anyway, but when they're over-grooming, they're ripping hair out. They have sores sometimes all the way from their chin to the tail. Those are the things we're going to be looking for that give us a pretty good indication of what's going on. Also, if we're looking for skin cancers, although it's not as common in cats as it is in dogs, we'll be looking for that odd lump or bump or something that just doesn't look natural or normal on their skin.

Why is it so important to avoid self-diagnosing feline skin conditions?

Good old Dr. Google. Let me make it clear. I think it can be instructive and beneficial. I appreciate it when somebody has enough interest in their cats or their dogs or any pet care to want to learn more and dig a little bit deeper. But there are so many times when people misdiagnose or grab onto some little factoid, and then somebody says, Oh, my cat had this, or my dog had that. They hold onto that as their pet's condition when, so often, that's not the case. That's why veterinarians exist. We help get through all the clutter and all the nonsense and try to get an appropriate diagnosis for what's happening.

How soon should you bring your cat to see a veterinarian for issues with its skin?

I would certainly suggest the first opportunity for a couple of reasons. Certainly, if we have a concern about skin cancer, the sooner we can address it, the better for your cat's long-term health. When it comes to allergies, we see so many miserable cats, and there's no need to wait until they get to the point where they've ripped so much of their hair out, they've got scabs and sores all over their body, they're just raw, and they feel horrible. The sooner we can see those cats, the sooner we can address those problems and get to an understanding of what's causing the issues so we can try to prevent them in the future. That's going to be better for your cat.

How will a veterinarian diagnose skin diseases in your cat?

Quite simply, we have to see them. I know it seems pretty obvious, but that's where you have to be careful about Dr. Google. We actually need to see the cat. We find out from you, the kitty owner, what's going on, how long it has been going on, and what you have noticed. A lot of the information about your cat's skin condition comes from you. We can see the kitty and see what's happening on the skin, but a lot of the information also comes from you and what you've observed, how long it's been going on, what you have done, or what you have tried. Taking all that information collectively, we can help resolve the problem or, even better, give them relief and try to help give them a better quality of life.

What treatment options are typically recommended for cat dermatology issues?

It depends on what the problem is. If it's cancer, depending on the cancer, some can be addressed. If it's a simple procedure, we can do surgery to remove the growth. Some are a lot more involved. It depends on the type of cancer. If it's an allergy, we can help those cats immediately. We can typically get them on cortisone injections or topical medications to help resolve the discomfort and the pain associated with it. There are lots of different things that we can do better. It just really depends on what we find and what we're trying to address.

One thing I want to throw in there too, which is more common in kittens than adult cats, is ringworm. Ringworm is commonly seen in kittens but not so much in adult cats, thank goodness. A fungus, not a worm, causes it. Unfortunately, the name ringworm is a little bit misleading or a whole lot misleading. Ringworm can spread to people and other pets in the household. Dogs and cats alike. When it comes to certain skin conditions, ringworm is one of those conditions we want to see early. The quicker we can try to address it and get them on the appropriate medication, we can try to prevent spreading through the household to other pets, family members, and so forth.

Are feline dermatology problems curable?

It depends on the problem. In many cases, especially when it comes to allergies, they're going to be more managing because, a lot of times, they can be recurring problems depending on the source of the allergy. Ringworm, for example, yes. Can it be cured? Yes, we can treat it successfully. When we're dealing with cancer, again, it very much depends on the type of cancer. We can always treat the problems, but in many cases, it involves longer-term management, depending on the problem.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 288-8620, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Cat Dermatology - FAQs

Dr. Bob Parrish
Carolina Value Pet Care

What are some common skin conditions in cats?

The number one condition that we see in cats for skin issues is allergies. We'll get a little bit more into that in just a second. We can also see problems with ringworm, which is caused by a fungus, not a worm. On occasion, we see issues with cancer, sadly, but they can be addressed as well. Sometimes, we'll see behavior issues that can also result in skin issues.

What causes skin conditions in cats?

The things you mentioned just a moment ago. Primarily allergies, but also cancer, behavior issues, and ringworm. Those are the big four that we would typically see in a cat.

Why is my cat so itchy?

If we get an itchy cat, we're always going to be thinking allergies first and/or fleas because sometimes they play hand in hand. There are four different types of allergies. The most common ones we see in cats are flea allergies, which I'll elaborate on a little bit more. We also have seasonal allergies, which are more common in dogs than in cats, but at certain times of the year, they seem to have more issues with their skin. The third would be indoor allergens. Again, it's more common in dogs than in cats. Indoor allergens are going to be primarily house dust and dust mite. The fourth one is food allergies. We do see several food allergies in cats. We'll talk a little bit more about that here momentarily.

Can anxiety or stress cause skin conditions in my cat?

Yes, they can. Uniquely, we do see it more in the Asian breeds, Himalayas and Siamese. It's more common in those breeds. I should say mixes of Siamese primarily, but not exclusively. We do see more behavior issues, and one thing that makes those issues unique is we'll see the cats that'll be excessively grooming. They'll lose a lot of hair, but typically it's going to be very symmetrical. You can look at your cat and say, Gosh, they've lost almost the exact same amount of hair on both sides. We typically don't get irritation to the skin. We don't get the scabbing and things of that nature. They are what we call self-barbering, but not mutilation. They're not ripping their hair out or leaving sores or scabs. They just have symmetrical hair loss.

Could a grooming product be causing skin conditions in my cat?

Very rarely. Is it possible? Absolutely, anything is possible, but it's very uncommon for grooming products to cause a problem. For those brave souls who bathe their cat, good on you. Good luck with that. Cats don't need to be bathed the most situations unless they fall in a bucket of mud or something. But cats are pretty good at grooming themselves. They generally don't need to be groomed or bathed. Although, if you want to and you're brave, go ahead and do it. It is just not something that you really need to worry about too much.

How can I care for my cat's skin at home?

Let's talk about the origins of some of the problems. Let's talk about flea allergies because that is such a common problem in cats. These are the cats who are ripping their hair out. They've got sores in the front and the back of their neck all the way to their tail and sometimes on their belly. Get them on an appropriate flea product. Food allergies are easy to manage too. First, we have to see the cat to get a better sense of where a cat is ripping his hair out on the body. Not exclusively, but typically if I see a cat coming in that's ripping the hair out around its face, the temples, the neck, and around the ears, I'm always going to think of food allergies.

We'd have that discussion about what foods are most likely to cause allergies in cats. Quite simply, that would be beef, fish, and dairy. Those are the big three. We'd look at the diet. We'd obviously want to change to a different diet. Usually, it's an ingredient issue and not a brand issue. If we're dealing with a ringworm situation, we will discuss how to address or treat ringworm and be on the lookout for ringworm showing up on us or other pets. If we're dealing with cancer, we'd have to address and see what type of cancer it is. That's going to indicate how we can address it long-term.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 288-8620, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.