VCA Animal Hospitals
Back

What Does My Cat’s Skin and Fur Say About Her Health?

- Provided by VetStreet.com
Thinkstock

If kitties could talk, what would they say? “More pets on the belly, please!” Or maybe: “Bring on the catnip!”

All kidding aside, if felines did speak our language, it would certainly help us out when it comes to their health care. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t read their needs from physical cues.

According to veterinary dermatologist Dr. Alice M. Jeromin, DVM, the state of a cat’s skin and fur can be a clear indicator of certain health issues. So Vetstreet asked the expert to interpret 10 common observations about our feline companions:

My cat has suddenly developed dandruff. What could be going on?

A. Dr. Jeromin: Dandruff can be related to many things, including low humidity and not enough fatty acids in the feline's diet. Older cats sometimes develop "dry skin" normally as they age. There's also a contagious “walking dandruff” mite called Cheyletiella.

My kitty seems suddenly very itchy, but I know it's not fleas. What could it be?

A. Getting itchy all of a sudden in the absence of fleas can be [due to] Cheyletiella mites, a food allergy or an inhalant allergy (atopy).

My cat keeps grooming one spot over and over again. What could cause this?

A. Grooming one area all of the time can be Cheyletiella mites, a food allergy, flea allergy dermatitis or an inhalant allergy. Rather than being itchy all over, some cats will pick one certain spot to lick. If the cat has a bladder infection, sometimes he or she will lick the area of the bladder.

My cat scratches her ears a lot and they look red. Why is she doing this?

A. Itchy ears need to be checked for ear mites, demodex mites, Cheyletiella mites, Notoedres mites, yeast and bacteria.

My cat has baldlike spots on her belly. What could be going on?

A. Your vet will want to check to see if the cat is making these areas bald because of allergies or if the cat is losing hair. This can be accomplished by your vet sampling the hairs under a microscope to see if the ends are being licked off or are intact (falling out) from an underlying disease.

My cat has spots on her feet that are rubbed bare. Should I worry about this?

A. Most often bare spots on the feet are due to licking, and that’s due to either fleas, Cheyletiella mites, a food allergy or atopy.

One of my cats started shedding like crazy. What should I do?

A. Shedding can be due to a poor diet, steroid use, and photoperiod or dark times of the year. Animals need natural sunlight exposure to grow hair, so during the dark winter, the hair goes into a resting phase and can fall out. Sometimes supplementing with fatty acids or changing to good-quality foods will help.

My cat has rough, little bumps on her skin. What could this be?

A. Rough, little bumps can be what's known as miliary dermatitis, which usually means a flea allergy, Cheyletiella mites, atopy, a food allergy or a bacterial or fungal infection.

My cat’s chin looks red and feels rough. What could be going on?

A. Chin acne is usually due to an underlying allergy, but can also be seen from demodex mites, a bacterial infection or a fungal infection.

My cat's fur is much thicker than usual. Is this normal?

A. Thicker fur is good! It’s thinning fur that’s usually the problem!

If you have a kitty who shows any of these signs, keep in mind that skin and fur conditions can have many causes beyond what's listed here. So if you notice anything unusual about your cat's skin or fur, the best thing to do is to make an appointment to see your veterinarian.

CLOSE CLOSE

General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

Find a VCA General Care Animal Hospital near you:

 

See all VCA Animal Hospitals >

CLOSE CLOSE

Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:

 

See all VCA Animal Hospitals >

CLOSE CLOSE

Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.

CLOSE CLOSE