CAT SKIN PROBLEMS
Rose DiLeva VMD, MS, CVCP, CVA
Skin is an organ. Skin is one of the largest organs of the body. As such, cat skin problems are very high on the list of health issues. Natural remedies for cats and cat skin treatments can be limited. Maintaining healthy skin is of the utmost importance in keeping your pet free from disease. Skin has many functions and serves many purposes. The most important function of skin is the protection of the body from such things as infection, adverse substances, dangerous rays from the sun, and even to prevent dehydration from setting in. Cat skin problems are more difficult to notice because of the fur that covers the body of most cat breeds. Therefore, it is imperative that as a cat owner you routinely inspect your pet's skin. This can be done by periodically brushing the fur and inspecting the hair coat by gently moving your hand against the grain of the fur. In this way you can actually see what is underneath the fur and inspect the skin for evidence of dryness, flaking, redness/ inflammation, cuts, scratches, bruises, swellings, lumps, fleas, ticks, mites, other parasites, pimples, cysts, hair loss, bites, bleeding, abscesses or oozing lesions (to name a few).
The diagnosis of cat skin problems and cat skin treatments can be very challenging for your veterinarian. Generally, a variety of tests are performed before cat skin treatment can be determined. One of the most common cat skin problems is allergies. Cats can have inhalant allergies (atopy) and can be allergic to house dust, dust mites, trees, weeds, molds and pollens. This can manifest as sneezing, coughing, scratching, runny eyes or runny nose, for example. The best cat skin treatment for this type of cat skin problem is to avoid as much as possible the offensive allergens. Natural remedies for cats can be very simple. For example, if your cat goes outdoors it would be beneficial to wipe them down with a warm slightly damp wash cloth after returning into the house. This will help reduce the number of allergen particles that have adhered to the fur. It is also important to keep heating and air conditioning vents clean to keep the mold concentration low in the house. I recommend yearly professional cleaning of heat and air conditioning ducts if you have a pet that has inhalant (atopy) allergies.
Cats can be allergic to certain things that they touch (contact dermatitis) such as plastic, cotton, wool, nylon or rubber. I have seen a number of cats have an allergic reaction to the plastic food or plastic water bowls they use. This manifests as an inflammation around the muzzle/mouth or lesions that appear as pimples or acne under the chin. This is easily resolved by switching to stainless steel or ceramic food and water bowls. The same applies to plastic toys that your cat may have.
An additional cat skin problem is that cats can also be allergic to fleas and flea bites. There are a whole range of symptoms that can manifest on the skin in this type of situation. The cat can bite or pull at their skin and fur. Skin lesions that look like small, red, inflamed, raised plaques, hair loss (alopecia) or oozing raised plaque like lesions that are moist (acute moist dermatitis or hot spot). This condition can sometimes be seasonal, depending on your geographic location, with more issue in the summer and spring seasons. Regular combing with a flea comb can help reduce the flea burden if it exists. I have seen cats have an entire whole body allergic reaction to just one flea bite. There are cats out there that are that sensitive to fleas and flea saliva. Obviously, keeping your cat indoors will almost eliminate this problem. One of the cat skin treatments for flea allergy dermatitis is the use of the monthly topical flea products. It is important to choose a product that both kills and repels fleas. Also, avoid any product that contains permethrin in cats.
Cats can also be allergic to allergens in food. I have seen cats that are allergic to corn, wheat, soy, yeast, fish, chicken and beef (just to name a few). The symptoms that can be seen include rubbing, scratching, itching, sneezing, coughing, pulling out of fur and subsequent hair loss (alopecia), pimples, rashes, chronic ear infections, recurrent diarrhea or vomiting, red/inflamed patches of skin, and interdigital dermatitis (inflammation between the toes). The easiest natural remedy for cats with food allergies is an elimination diet. This will involve inspecting all the ingredients listed on potential diet choices. Reading the ingredient label will allow you to choose a formulation that fits your cat's profile. I usually have owners bring the food allergy results to the pet store so they can compare the results to the list of ingredients. This ensures that they don't purchase something that has an offending food substance in it for their cat. By reducing the number of allergens that your cat is exposed to, you reduce the level of his/her threshold to below that which they exhibit clinical signs. Basically, the rubbing, the scratching, the rashes, the ear infections etc. are minimized. I have seen all kinds of symptoms disappear once the allergen level is reduced.
CAT SKIN TREATMENTS / NATURAL REMEDIES FOR CATS
There are a number of treatments for cat skin problems, some being natural remedies for cats, depending on the issue. However, one of the products that can be considered a natural remedy for cats is Dr. Rose's Remedies Skin Treatment Salve or Spray. It is basically geared toward helping the symptoms while the underlying cause is investigated. The salve is antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory. It can help reduce the redness, the itchiness, and the irritation that your cat experiences. Remember, all cats with skin problems should be examined by your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. Trying a natural remedy for your cat is a great first step!