Cat Tips

Hairless cat breeds, such as a Sphinx or a Peterbald, don't necessarily mean less maintenance. Although these cats are beautiful, unusual and affectionate, their exposed skin often requires more care than that of a typical furry feline.

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Cat Skin Problems

By Angela Neal

Cat Skin Problems

Cat skin problems can range from a minor irritation to more serious fur loss, lesions or scabs that, when left untreated, can cause long-term harm. As in humans, skin problems in cats can also be an indication of an underlying health problem, so they should be addressed as soon as you notice anything unusual on your cat’s skin. Some types of bacteria or parasites that can cause skin problems in cats can also spread to humans -- another reason for quickly seeking treatment if you notice hair loss, oozing patches or other skin problems in your cat.

Sometimes, the cause of a skin problem can be quickly identified. However, more general skin complaints can be tougher to diagnose and treat.

Coming into contact with a toxic or caustic substance can result in a skin complaint called “contact dermatitis.” This usually includes itchy or tender patches, small red bumps and inflamed skin around the area that has touched the substance. Common culprits for contact dermatitis in cats are often found in the garden and include chemical pesticides or fertilizers as well as toxic plants such as nicotiana and foxgloves.

Food allergies can also cause similar skin problems. Contact dermatitis is limited to the areas that have come into direct contact with a substance, but food allergies can cause more widespread skin problems. If food allergies are suspected, your vet will work with you to alter your cat’s diet to try and pinpoint the ingredient that your cat is sensitive to.

Did you know that cats can also get sunburn? Sun damage is most common in light-haired cats and can result in discoloured patches of skin around the ears, nose and eyes. The only way to prevent sun damage is to keep your cat indoors as much as possible, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. -- when the sun is at its strongest.

Angela Neal is a writer, editor and online consultant based in Scotland. She previously was a contributor to

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