Common Cat Skin Conditions and How To Treat Them

Posted on
September 5, 2018

Although cats are generally known as low-maintenance pets, there’s a lot to look out for, particularly when it comes to their skin. Outdoor and indoor cats alike can be prone to skin issues and conditions that may go unnoticed by their owner. To be safe, make sure you’re regularly checking your cat’s skin—as much as they might squirm—for signs of problems. That way, you can take them to your vet before anything gets out of control. New to cat skin care and don’t know what to look out for? Here’s a quick list of symptoms and treatments to get you started:

  • Ringworm
  • Feline Acne
  • Sunburn
  • Abscesses
  • Allergies
  • Fleas


Despite the misleading name, ringworm actually doesn’t have anything to do with worms at all. It’s a fungal infection that got its name from the red ring rash it displays on its victims. Unfortunately, the rash is not always visible on a cat so it can be hard to detect. Additionally, you need to be careful when inspecting the spot because ringworm can also infect humans through skin-to-skin contact or by touching objects that have already touched the ringworm. So if you find your cat has ringworm, get ready to disinfect!

If you suspect anything, you should take your pet to the vet for a physical exam. The vet will likely take a culture in order to properly diagnose your feline friend. Ringworm is usually treated with a combination of topical and oral antifungal medication, and the infected area may have to be shaved for better coverage.

Feline Acne

Just like humans, cats can get acne too. Depending on the severity, the acne may or may not be noticeable to the owner. Feline acne often occurs on a cat’s chin and may be signified by redness or hair loss in the area. There can be a lot of causes of acne, many of which are similar to humans such as stress and poor grooming, so make sure that your kitty is clean and relaxed. The spread of bacteria in plastic food bowls is also a common cause, so pet experts now recommend metal or glass bowl for feeding, with frequent cleaning of course.

If you think you may be detecting signs of feline acne, take your cat to the vet. They may prescribe a simple treatment such as gently washing or applying a compress to the area twice a day, or if its more serious they may prescribe antibiotics to get rid of the acne. Either way, be sure to take them to the vet so you can rule out other more serious skin conditions.

cats outdoors
Cats can actually get sunburn allergies, and acne—just like humans!


Although it may not occur to you to think about it, our furry friends can get sunburned if they spend too much time out in the sun, just like humans. Problem spots are usually ears and noses and pets with patchy fur may be more sensitive to the sun’s rays. If you suspect your cat may be likely to get sunburned, you can actually get sunscreen for pets! Check with your vet for sunscreen recommendations if your cat has especially sensitive skin. And, if you’re in a pinch, some pet owners suggest putting your cat in a t-shirt to cover the vulnerable spots—as long as they dont mind playing dress up, of course. To avoid the possibility of sunburn all together, keep your pet out of direct sunlight, particularly between the hours of 10am and 4pm.

If your cat is sunburned their symptoms will be much like a human’s—itching, redness, and possibly peeling. Take them to the vet to find out more about appropriate treatment. Depending on severity, they will likely prescribe a topical burn cream—more severe treatments can require steroids or even skin grafts. And for general pain you can apply a cold compress or a gentle water mist, to keep your kitty comfortable.

And, even if your cat doesn’t go outside, keep in mind that UV rays can still get through glass doors and windows, so make sure your cat spends some time in the shade no matter where they are!


Abscesses can develop from open wounds, such as bite wounds, and are particularly prone to happen in outdoor cats. The wound will then become infected, which you can tell by signs of sensitivity, swelling, or discharge. Although abscesses can be fairly common, if left untreated they can develop into a more serious condition.

If you notice an abscess developing on your pet, take them to your vet who will likely lance and drain the site, depending on severity. You can do your part at home by checking your cat on a regular basis for any open wounds, making sure to clean and monitor them so you know when to go to the vet.

kittens outside together
If you notice any new symptoms in your cat that you’re unable to identify, be sure to make an appointment with your vet right away.


Like any of your other pets, cats can also suffer from allergies. Symptoms to watch out for if you suspect your animal may have allergies are sneezing and coughing as well as other general signs of illness such as vomiting and skin irritation. Figuring out what your cat is allergic to may be a little more difficult depending on if it’s something you can control. For instance, if they’re allergic to grass versus allergic to their food. Think about whether they’ve had any life changes recently, like new food or litter because, because that could cause an allergic reaction to begin. This may require some experimentation on your part by changing things around and monitoring your cat’s reaction.

If you think your pet is experiencing allergies, take your cat to the vet so that you can confirm their allergy and come up with a plan to treat or control it. If your cat is allergic to outdoor things like pollen or grass, maybe limit their outdoor time or begin to give them baths more frequently. If your cat is having trouble with their food or litter, ask your vet for hypoallergenic food and litter recommendations.

cat sitting inside
To avoid infection in an open wound, limit your cat’s time outside until the wound fully heals.


Although a flea prevention should be part of your regular care, sometimes your cat will end up with fleas no matter your efforts. Symptoms of fleas include excessive itchiness that may in turn cause redness and hair loss. If you know your cat has fleas, it’s important to immediately consult your veterinarian for treatment options. Once you find the proper treatment it’s time to rid your home of any other fleas that may have spread to your house and other pets as well.

If you notice anything abnormal about your cat’s skin, the safest thing to do is make an appointment with your vet. They can help you diagnose the problem and identify possible treatments—because the wrong product will only make the problem worse. Looking for a product to use on your cat’s wounds, burns, and hot spots? Check out Fauna Care’s Silver Spray!

cat siting outside
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Posted on
September 5, 2018