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What You Should Know About Your Cat’s Hot Spots

kitten in a golden field

If you see an area on your cat that is balding, it doesn’t mean your cat is prematurely aging.

What You Should Know About Your Cat’s Hot Spots

Your cat could be dealing with hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis and pyotraumatic dermatitis. Other symptoms can include oozing or broken skin. As this condition undoubtedly causes your cat a lot of pain, it’s important that you can recognize, treat, and even prevent this condition. This article will cover:

  • Symptoms of hot spots
  • Causes
  • How to treat hot spots
  • Ways to guard against them


As we already said, hot spots are basically little patches on the skin where the hair is missing. They tend to look red and inflamed and can even exude pus. Check out this website for some helpful photos in identifying different variations of what hot spots might look like.

Hot spots might also hide underneath hair that is matted and stuck to the skin, so you might not always notice balding. Their name refers to the fact that the spots are actually hot to the touch due to inflammation and infection. You’ll also notice your cat licking or scratching the spot a lot, as hot spots itch.


There are actually many causes for hot spots, as hot spots can be a result of other types of infections. For example, your cat can develop hot spots as a byproduct of a flea infestation. Other possibilities are a mite infection, mosquitoes, flies, and ant bites. This is partly why the summer is a common time for hot spot incidences in cats, especially if they’re outdoor cats.

In some cases, hot spots might come along with a ringworm infection if your cat has been scratching a particular area excessively.

cat outside in tall grass
A cat that spends more time outside is more likely to pick up fleas or ticks, which could result in hot spots.

Allergies can cause hot spots as well. Possible allergies include grass, pollen, dust mites, fungus, trees, food allergies—the list goes on. Read more about cat allergies and the possible culprits here. If you think your cat has an allergy, take them to the vet where they’ll complete a physical exam of your cat and possibly even do some blood tests and alter your cat’s diet.

Hot spots can result from an ear infection if your cat has been vigorously scratching their ears. Even hip arthritis can cause your cat to lick and chew the skin near their hips, resulting in a hot spot. These causes are less common, though.

Finally, there are other miscellaneous reasons your cat could be preoccupied with licking, biting, and scratching their skin that are harder to pinpoint: boredom, stress, a reaction to something in their environment like food or an environmental irritant, flaky skin, or greasy skin. Therefore, the general health of your cat—both mental and the health of their coat—are influencing factors. 

cat with head buried in paws
Even stress could be contributing to your cat's tendency to itch and aggravate hot spots.


First, promptly take your cat to the vet to get a diagnosis since your pet will only irritate the spots more by scratching and licking. This could then lead to infection. More importantly, though, the real cause of the hot spot needs to be uncovered. You vet might swab the hot spot and examine the swab under a microscope to diagnose the problem or just complete a physical exam of your cat. They might do a blood culture to investigate whether a pathogen is causing the hot spots.

Once the real cause is found out, you’ll have to deal with that, of course, whether it’s dealing with a case of the fleas or giving your cat medication for an ear infection and applying topical treatment. Your vet is likely to give you antibiotics to prevent infection and some kind of medicated, topical treatment like cream or shampoo.

There are things you need to do to alleviate the discomfort of your cat’s hot spots, too. Shave the hair around the hot spot off so that any prescriptions can reach the area more effectively. Clean the spot with cold water and apply a product that will gently cleanse the area such as Fauna Care First Aid Spray or Fauna Care Zinc Spray.

stream of cold weather from sink
Using cold water rather than hot can help alleviate your cat's pain.

Finally, as much as your cat might put up a fuss, an Elizabethan collar is very important in preventing your cat from aggravating the hot spot even more. Since your cat will now not be able to scratch the spot (imagine how maddening this must be!), try to alleviate symptoms by applying a cold compress like ice wrapped in a thin towel or an ice bag.


Since many infections or pathogens can indirectly bring on hot spots, there are some general things you can do to prevent their occurrence:

  • Clean your cat’s bedding regularly. Fleas or fungi might be lurking in it.
  • Routinely brush your cat’s coat and check for ticks and fleas. You can use a fine-toothed comb for this.
  • Keep your cat’s coat healthy with a product such as Fauna Care Protect & Condition Spray so that it can act as a healthy barrier for infections in the first place. Dry, cracked skin is just waiting to be infected.
  • We recommend making your cat an indoor cat, as it’s much easier for cats to acquire infections or react to possible allergies when they’re outside most of the time.

It’s important to diagnose hot spots quickly since the real cause of them could be serious and very bothersome—especially if it’s a parasite that needs to be eradicated from your pet’s fur and your house. Since your cat might be unrelenting in scratching a hot spot, it’s also crucial that you see a vet and take the necessary measures for the spot to heal, as constant scratching can easily result in a deep wound and a scary infection.

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