Is your cat licking, scratching or chewing on its fur, or have you found scabs on your cat’s skin? No cat-lover wants to see scabs on their kitty, but unfortunately, every cat owner will come across this problem at some time.
Did you know that your cat’s skin is the largest organ, and comprises up to 25% of its body weight? Your cat’s skin protects it from the environment and regulates its body temperature, so scabs on your cat’s skin must never be ignored. Skin disease can make your cat feel really uncomfortable and down.
What Causes Scabs on Cats?
Scabs on your cat can be caused by parasites, allergy, fungus or bacteria. Your cat’s breed, gender and lifestyle can also play a role. Hairless cat breeds and cats with white or pale coloured fur are inclined to sunburn that can cause scabbing, male cats are more inclined to get into fights that cause injury, and cats that are allowed to roam freely outdoors are more inclined to pick up parasites.
Once you have found scabs on your cat’s skin, you need to give your cat a gentle rub-down from its head to its tail, down each leg and across its underbelly to see how severe the scabbing is. Also look for patches of hair loss and redness on the skin which would indicate inflammation. Make sure you rub gently across the skin so that you don’t open any of the scabs and cause bleeding and further irritation. Identifying the distribution of the scabs on your cat’s body can help with diagnosing the cause.
List of 5 common causes of Scabs on Cats
Although there are a number of causes of scabs on cats, these five are the most common:
Abscesses – Most causes of Scabs on Cats
An abscess is very painful and is caused by a bacterial infection under the skin. Bacteria most commonly enter the skin through an open wound or scratch on the skin surface or an ingrown hair or blocked hair follicle. White blood cells and blood create pus that accumulates in the area causing the skin to swell. Some abscesses rupture on their own while others need to be lanced to release the puss.
Cat-fights are a commons cause of abscesses that are located on the cat’s forequarters and abdomen. Dental problems can cause accesses in the mouth and along the jawline. It is best to let a vet treat your cat for an abscess because if the abscess is not properly drained, it will not heal. Also, a vet can give your cat some antibiotics and a shot for the pain to ease the discomfort.
Because abscesses can lead to further infection, it is always best to take your cat to a vet.
If that is not possible, a warm compress can be applied to the abscess three or four times a day to encourage blood flow to the area to speed up the healing process. Make a warm compress by steeping a soft, absorbent cloth in warm water. Wring the cloth out and put two drops of tea tree oil onto the warmed cloth. Gently place the cloth directly on the abscess and keep it there for as long as your cat will allow you to.
The affected area can also be sanitized daily with a cotton ball soaked in warm water and a drop of tea tree oil.
Ear Mites – the second causes of Scabs on Cats
If you notice redness and swelling as well as fine scabs (flakey skin) on your cat’s earflap, and around your cat’s ear, it could be ear mites.
If your cat has ear mites, you will immediately notice that the dry skin and inflammation goes down into the ear canal and your cat’s ear could have a bad smell. You might also notice a discharge that has a buildup of fine dark granules.
Ear mites are very small parasites that can cause your cat extreme discomfort with constant itching and burning in the ear. If left untreated, ear mites can cause disorientation, loss of balance and bacterial infections that can lead to deafness.
Ear Mites Treatment
Ear mites can be successfully treated with drops that you can get from a vet and daily gentle cleaning of the ear with a few drops of almond oil and warm water.
Gently drop a small amount of almond oil into the ear canal and massage it into your cat’s ear. This will help to loosen the mites and the debris that comes with them. Wipe the ear out with a cotton ball dampened with warm water.
Next, put a few ear drops into the ear and massage well into the ear. The vet would have prescribed drops that contain a miticide known as pyrethrins which is a natural insecticide. One treatment is not good enough because ear mites continually lay their eggs in your cat’s ear, so it could take a few weeks of daily treatment to clear the infestation.
Contact Dermatitis – the third causes of Scabs on Cats
Contact dermatitis is an allergy to something that comes into contact with your cat’s skin. Allergies are difficult to identify, particularly if your cat is allowed to roam around freely outside.
Contact dermatitis can be identified by the red itchy bumps that it causes to break out on your cat’s skin. These bumps can break out across your cat’s whole body, or in patches.
Unfortunately, your cat’s scratching can cause the allergy to spread, and also cause the skin to open up and bleed, making it susceptible to bacterial infection. The allergy can be caused by anything ranging from your cat’s bedding to cleaning materials used in the house, plants in the garden or material on furniture.
Untreated, contact dermatitis can lead to infections and health problems, so it is best to take your cat to a vet who will prescribe your cat antihistamines and help you identify the cause of the problem.
Contact Dermatitis Treatment
Treat the affected by gently cleaning it with with a cotton ball soaked in warm water and a drop of tea tree oil three or four times a day. Until the cause of the dermatitis is found, your cat will continue breaking out in itchy bumps. Until you can find the cause, you can get antihistamines containing cyproheptadine (Periactin) and hydroxyzine (Atarax) prescribed by a vet. Cats are very sensitive to medication, but these medicines do effectively treat cats without causing side effects.
Feline Acne – the four causes of Scabs on Cats
Feline acne is caused by the oil glands around a cat’s mouth and chin becoming blocked, irritated and potentially infected.
There are a number of causes including poor hygiene, stress, and feeding and drinking from plastic bowls. Plastic readily harbours bacteria because it is non-porous. If you are using plastic bowls get rid of them and replace them with stainless steel bowls that can be sanitized daily in very hot water.
If the feline acne is severe with open and bleeding scabs, it is best to take your kitty to a vet as soon as possible.
If the feline acne is mild, you can treat the area with mild soap and warm water. A drop of tea tree oil can be added to the water to get rid of bacteria. Sanitize your cat’s bowls daily with hot water and dishwashing liquid. Rinse well to make sure that there is no soap residue.
You can further sanitize the bowls after washing them by wiping them down with a few drops of white vinegar on a cloth and rinsing them in hot water again.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis– the five causes of Scabs on Cats
Flea Allergy Dermatitis By Pinterest
Flea allergy dermatitis can be identified by the red itchy bumps that it causes to break out mostly on a cat’s hindquarters and base of the tail.
A cat does not have to have a flea infestation to develop flea allergy dermatitis. Some cats are sensitive to flea bites, and it can take only one or two fleas to cause a breakout of flea allergy dermatitis.
Not all cats that pick up fleas will develop the condition. If you see that your cat has fleas, you must take action immediately. Fleas can become very persistent and easily spread to other animals and get lodged in carpets, bedding and furniture.
Fleas feed on humans as well and leave very itchy bumps behind on the skin that can stay for days. If the flea allergy dermatitis breakout on your cat is bad, it’s best to take it to a vet who can give it an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory shot to bring relief to the itching and burning.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis Treatment
Flea control is the best cure for flea allergy dermatitis. You can buy flea powders, and sprays from your vet, as well as special flea combs that you can use to comb through your cat’s coat daily until all the fleas have disappeared.
It is very important to ensure that flea elimination products are specifically for cats. Products for dogs can be too harsh for cats because cats are more sensitive than dogs. Getting rid of flea’s means getting rid of flea eggs and larvae as well.
Make sure that the products you by contain Insect Growth Regulators (IGR). Products that contain IGR prevent flea larvae from developing and prevent further reproduction in existing fleas. Also wash your cat’s bedding, as well as carpets and furniture with hot water and soap and vacuum thoroughly every day until the flea infestation has cleared.
Once you have identified the cause of the scabs on your cat, you can take action to prevent further injury or outbreaks. Regular grooming and hygiene are very important to ensure that your cat isn’t exposed to bacteria, fungus and parasites. If your cat is inclined to skin disease, it’s a good idea to keep a note of what your cat did in the twenty-four hours before you noticed the scabs on its skin. You can share this information with your vet who can advise you on what preventive action you can take, or what prophylactic medication will help to keep your cat scab-free.
Elizabethan Type Collars – DIY E-Collars
Another handy companion for a kitty that regularly suffers from skin disease is an Elizabethan collar or an E-collar. An E-collar prevents your cat from constantly liking at the scabs and making the problem worse. There are two types of E-collar: the hard cone-shaped type that looks like a lamp-shade and surrounds your cat’s face, and a flat, soft collar that looks a flat pillow with a hole in the centre for your cats head to fit through.