Tuesday, October 20, 2009 3:45 PM

Skin Disorders in Cats

Skin is the largest organ on your cat's body (just as it is on yours). It is responsible for fending off all sorts of environmental hazards, and so needs to be in top condition. Sometimes, skin falls victim to disease, just like any other organ. For the most part, skin problems can be categorized as coming either from "within" or "without". The majority of disorders stem from allergies. If you don't count wounds and infection, you will find that a skin rash is the result of either an environmental agent or a food allergy. Let's take a look at each in its turn.

One of the most common skin problems in cats is flea bite allergy, commonly known as "hot spots". Sensitivity to flea bites cause a cycle of itching and scratching that can cause real skin damage. If you see something like this starting, you should try to fix the problem before scabbing, hair loss and secondary infection turn a minor problem into a major one. Eradicating the fleas, or at least controlling them, if a good first step. Just remember, though, that flea treatments very often cause health problems of their own and are often not worth using.

"Dermatitis" is a broad term that means something, usually outside of the animal's body, is causing skin inflammation. If you can pinpoint the causative agent, you're on your way to curing the problem. One of these types of dermatitis is called feline acne, in which small bumps appear on and under the cat's chin. This has been linked to plastic water and food bowls, so only use ceramic, glass or metal.

Mange, caused either by the demodectic or sarcoptic mite, is fairly rare in cats unless they are old and/or sick. If you see small bald patches on your cat's head, especially around the eyes, ears or chin, make sure that your veterinarian checks for mange mites.

Ringworm is a fungus that can cause small to large areas of hairlessness. It is also transmissible to humans. This is an opportunistic infection, usually only infecting cats with compromised immune systems.

Rashes and bald spots can also be caused by nervousness. When a cat is stressed, it naturally sheds at an accelerated pace. Have you ever noticed how much cat hair your cat leaves behind on the vet's examination table? Long-term stress can cause skin problems, so finding and eliminating the source will be curative.

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at some causes of skin disorders that originate within your cat, and how to deal with these problems.
Chat later!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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