Cat skin disorders are among the most common health problems in cats. Skin disorders in cats have many causes, and many of the common skin disorders that afflict people have a counterpart in cats. The condition of a cat's skin and coat can also be an important indicator of its general health. Skin disorders of cats vary from acute, self-limiting problems to chronic or long-lasting problems requiring life-time treatment. Cat skin disorders may be grouped into categories according to the causes.
Types of disorder
Immune-mediated skin disorders
Skin disease may result from deficiencies in immune system function. In cats, the most common cause of immune deficiency is infection with retroviruses, FIV or FeLV, and cats with these chronic infections are subject to repeated bouts of skin infection and abscesses. This category also includes hypersensitivity disorders and eosinophilic skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, miliary dermatitis and feline eosinophilic granuloma and skin diseases caused by autoimmunity, such as pemphigus and discoid lupus.
Infectious skin diseases
The most important infectious skin diseases of cats is ringworm or dermatophytosis. Other cat skin infections include parasitic diseases like mange and lice infestation.
Other ectoparasites, including flea and tick infestations are not considered directly contagious but are acquired from an environment where other infested hosts have established the parasite's life cycle.
Another common skin infection is cat bite abscess. A mixture of bacteria introduced by a bite wound cause infections in pockets under the skin and affected cats often show manic depression and fever.
Hereditary and developmental skin diseases
Some diseases are inherent abnormalities of skin structure or function. These include skin fragility syndrome (Ehlers-Danlos), hereditary hypotrichosis and congenital or hereditary alopecia.
Cutaneous manifestations of internal diseases
Some systemic diseases can become symptomatic as a skin disorder. In cats this includes one of the most devastating cat skin disorders, feline acquired skin fragility syndrome, which can come from starvation or over-treatment with cortisone-like drugs or with diabetes.