Common Skin Problems

To my horror I discovered she was pulling her hair out at the sides and, after getting her checked out at the vets and getting the all clear on the health front, I was able to put a name to her condition – Psychogenic Alopecia.
This is an over grooming behaviour problem so my next step is to try to figure out why she is doing this. Sometimes cats become OCD on grooming and even, if the original origin of distress is eradicated, a cat may still continue, out of habit, to over groom and pull hair out.
Cat
KIKI
Surfing the net I came across a great site that listed many common ‘coat’ problems so thought I would list them here to save you the trouble of wondering what may be wrong with your cat.

If your cat is scratching or grooming too much check this list below and don’t hesitate to contact your vets to get things checked out.

Feline Acne

Your vet will be able to assist you with a special cream or shampoo or possibly antibiotics should their be a bacterial infection connected to the acne.

Bacterial Infection

In many cases, bacterial skin infections develop as a result of another skin problem. For example, feline acne can make a cat’s hair follicles more vulnerable to infection, resulting in folliculitis. Bacterial infections may be treated with antibiotics, but it’s important to address any underlying skin conditions to prevent a recurrence.

Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are caused by a fungus and are also more likely in cats that have other medical problems. The ear is one of the most common spots for a yeast infection. Symptoms may include a black or yellow discharge, redness of the ear flap, and persistent scratching of the ear. Yeast infections are easily diagnosed and respond well to treatment with an anti-fungal agent.

Ringworm

Ringworm is another type of fungus that affects cats, especially kittens under a year old. It causes circular lesions on a cat’s head, ears, and forelimbs. The skin around these lesions is often flaky and bald. Ringworm is highly contagious and can spread to other pets in the home, as well as to people. Treatment depends on severity, but may include specialised shampoos, ointments, or oral medications.

Sporotrichosis

Yet another fungus, sporotrichosis produces small, hard skin lesions that may leak fluid. Sporotrichosis is considered to be a public health concern, because the fungus is known to spread from cats to humans. People with a compromised immune system are especially vulnerable. For these reasons, cats with sporotrichosis should be treated promptly, and caregivers should be meticulous about hygiene.

Sporotrichosis

Yet another fungus, sporotrichosis produces small, hard skin lesions that may leak fluid. Sporotrichosis is considered to be a public health concern, because the fungus is known to spread from cats to humans. People with a compromised immune system are especially vulnerable. For these reasons, cats with sporotrichosis should be treated promptly, and caregivers should be meticulous about hygiene.

Shedding and Hair Loss (Alopecia)

If you live with cats, you learn to cope with cat hair on your favourite sweater. But if you notice your cat is losing more hair than usual or has bald patches, see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Abnormal hair loss can be a warning sign of several illnesses, as well as fleas, stress, allergies, or poor nutrition. If no illness is found then it’s likely your vets will mention finding a cat behaviourist to try to find out what physiological reasons by such hair loss (pulling hair out). This condition is called Psychogenic Alopecia.

Fleas

The idea of tiny insects feeding on the blood of your cat may make you shudder, but fleas are a very common problem. You can look for them or their droppings in a cat’s coat, especially where the fur is pale. Other signs of a flea infestation are persistent scratching, crusty skin lesions, and thinning hair above the base of the tail. To eradicate fleas, you’ll need to treat your cat, as well as your furniture, bedding, and rugs. A monthly flea prevention protocol is the gold standard for flea control. It not only kills fleas on your cat, but those in your home should eventually be eliminated as they fail to reproduce. Treat all pets in the home for this to be effective.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are tiny parasites that are drawn to the wax and oils inside a cat’s ear. As they feed, they cause inflammation that can lead to a serious skin or ear infection. Signs of ear mites include excessive scratching of the ears, head shaking, and a strong odour and a dark discharge from the ears. Suspect ear mites when both ears are affected. Mites can be treated with a topical product prescribed by your vet.

Lice

Lice are parasites that feed on dry skin. They are commonly found on older or diseased cats and often go unnoticed. Large infestations can lead to scratching, restlessness, unusual coat appearance, and hair loss. Like mites, lice can be treated with a topical solution. Because lice are species-specific, you do not need to worry about getting lice from your cat.

Skin Tumours

A lump in your cat’s skin is not necessarily cancer, but should be checked by a veterinarian. Older cats and those with white ears and heads are especially susceptible to skin cancer. To confirm a diagnosis of cancer, a biopsy is necessary. If the lump is small enough, a vet may recommend removing it in its entirety. For tumours that have not spread, this may be the only treatment needed.

Dry, Flaky Skin

Like people, some cats get dry, flaky skin in the winter. It’s usually nothing serious, but have your veterinarian take a look. Persistent dandruff may be a sign of poor nutrition, inadequate grooming, or an underlying medical problem. Special shampoos and supplements of omega-3 fatty acids can help treat feline dandruff.

Compulsive Grooming

Cats are known to be fastidious groomers, but sometimes they overdo it. Compulsive licking, chewing, or sucking on the skin may lead to irritation, infection, and thinning hair  (psychogenic alopecia.) Cats may groom compulsively in response to stress, such as moving into a new home, but may also over groom due to a medical problem such as osteoarthritis. If this describes your cat, talk to your vet about stress reduction and behaviour modification strategies.

When to See the Vet

Check with your veterinarian as soon as possible if you find any oddities on your cat’s skin — flaking, scaling, redness, or bald patches. Even if the skin looks fine, your cat should be examined if she is scratching, licking, or biting herself excessively.

Hope this has been helpful.

Thanks to Web MD for the use of these images and text.

For further info and advice please visit:

Catnips – West London mobile cat grooming, cat sitting services and feline behaviour

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About Anita Kelsey - Cat Behaviour Consultant

Anita Kelsey holds a first class honours degree in Feline Behaviour and Psychology (work based BA Hons) and runs a vet referral service dedicated strictly to the diagnosis and treatment of behaviour problems in cats. She is also a qualified cat groomer and specialises in grooming aggressive or phobic cats. Anita writes for Your Cat Magazine and is on their experts panel answering readers questions on cat grooming. She also advises on feline behaviour for the CFBA (Canine and Feline Behaviour) magazine as well as being a full member. Anita is based in Notting Hill, London but consults all over the UK as well as international requests. She lives with her husband, a music producer, and two Norwegian Forest cats, Kiki and Zaza. Anita's debut book, Claws, Confessions Of A Cat Groomer is published by John Blake Publishers and is out on 7th September 2017 (available for pre-orders on Amazon UK)
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