Five common skin problems in cats and how to identify them

Five common skin problems in cats and how to identify them

Cats are very fastidious about their personal hygiene, and spend a reasonable amount of their time grooming themselves and keeping their skin and coat in good condition.

It is also a really good idea for cat owners to groom their cats manually too, and this is best done every day for longhaired cat breeds, and for cats with all types of fur when moulting.

Grooming your cat with a brush and/or comb can help to remove loose and shed fur from the coat so that your cat doesn’t ingest it when they groom themselves, the latter of which can cause hairballs. It also means that you can check your cat’s skin and coat over to make sure it is healthy and in good condition; and gives you the opportunity to spot any coat or skin problems your cat might have developed before it becomes an acute problem.

With this in mind, this article will tell you about five of the most common skin problems that cats can develop, and share some pointers on how to identify each of them. Read on to learn more.


Cats can develop allergies just like people can, and some such allergies will present with skin symptoms. Quite a wide range of different skin and coat problems can be attributed to allergies, although it can be really hard to determine what the allergen in question actually is; it could be something environmental like pollen, a food ingredient, or something else entirely.

If your cat suffers from allergies and this develops into skin symptoms, they might be very itchy, causing them to scratch and make their skin sore and inflamed, even potentially resulting in scabs and sores. Their fur may fall out too, and you might see signs of a rash or raised bumps or other symptoms, although this is not always the case.

Fleas and fleabite sensitivity

Fleas and flea bites can drive your cat mad, but many owners don’t even realise that their cats have a quite significant flea infestation. Brushing your cat will not reveal fleas, even if lots of them are present, and so you need to use a proper flea comb and invest in regular preventative flea treatments.

If a cat is exposed to flea bites over a long period of time, they can become hypersensitive to them, and this results in a dramatic localised reaction anywhere they are bitten. The bite will be red, raised, sore, inflamed, and very itchy.


Ringworm is a type of fungal infection that lives on the surface of the skin, and which is highly contagious across a large number of animal species including cats, dogs, and people. Ringworm isn’t painful and usually isn’t itchy although this is not always the case, and it causes round, raised areas of fur that eventually fall out, leaving signature round patches of bald skin with a reddened ring around the outer edges.

If your cat has ringworm, this is very contagious and can affect all of your pets and your human family too, so speak to your vet promptly.

Feline acne

Acne is something most of us associate with our teenage years, although it can affect adults of all ages too; and just like people, cats can get acne as well! It is more common in younger cats, and whilst it is not the most common feline skin condition, some cats are particularly prone to it, and whilst it can be hard to tell as cat acne develops under their fur, it looks very much like an outbreak of spots on a person.

Cat acne forms into whiteheads or blackheads and generally appears on the cat’s chin; it can be itchy for your cat and might even cause some fur loss, but for many cats they’re not even aware of it, and you as their owner might only identify its presence by feeling bumps when you stroke your cat’s chin.

As is the case for all skin conditions in cats, your vet can talk you through the appropriate medications and management of your cat’s acne. Some cats that develop acne when young will outgrow it; but some cats will have flare-ups throughout their lives.

Pyoderma or hot spots

Pyoderma or hot spots appear on your cat’s skin as sore, red, inflamed areas that are warmer than the surrounding skin and that your cat will find quite irritating. Most cases of pyoderma in cats are caused by a bacterial infection, and this in turn often develops if your cat scratches or irritates their skin enough to break it or cause a graze, such as if scratching a flea bite or area of allergenic flare-up.

Bacteria from your cat’s claws then enter the wound, and grow and spread, resulting in itching, lesions, irritation, and potentially small pus-filled bumps to develop.

Antibacterial medications from your vet will resolve the issue, and of course if there is an underlying allergy, irritation or flea infestation involved, this must be resolved too.



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