Cat Health and Wellness

Why Cats Get Scabs on the Head and Body

Has scratching become an obsession for your feline? If so, a thorough inspection under the fur will likely reveal that your cat has black scabs. You’ll also find sore, reddened, and inflamed skin. You’re most likely to find scabs on a cat’s head and neck, but they can appear anywhere.

Why does my cat have scabs? Owners can mistakenly believe that cats have scabs due to rough play with other felines. This is unlikely to be the explanation. Scabbing and hair loss in cats are triggered by flea bite sensitivity, mites, overly dry skin, acne, bacterial infection, excessive grooming, allergies, yeast infection, and ringworm (in kittens.) Don’t pick off scabs on cats. Start treatment and allow healing to occur naturally.

If scabs and small patches of baldness have occurred on your cat’s head, neck, back, stomach, and base of the tail then specialist treatment and aftercare are required to address this dermatological problem in cats. We’ll explore the causes of scabs on cats and how to expedite your pet’s recovery.

Bumps and Scabs on a Cat’s Skin

Irritation markings on a cat’s skin can be due to allergic reactions, bites, and scratching off existing scabs. The problem will worsen if your cat is left to deal with the problem on their own.

Although routine scratching in cats is to be expected, aggressive self-grooming can be a sign of a medical issue. If you find that your cat is attempting to remove its fur to reach a specific area of skin, you should always take a closer look at the area and assess the extent of any damage to the skin.

By inspecting your cat’s fur, you will quickly be able to identify any dermatological problems. If your cat is experiencing extreme skin irritation or is in obvious pain, you should consult a veterinarian.

Most Common Skin Problems That Affect Cats

  • Acne
  • Bacterial infections
  • Yeast infections
  • Ringworm
  • Mites
  • Fleas
  • Shedding and hair loss
  • Allergies
  • Compulsive grooming
  • Dry skin

What is Feline Dermatitis? (Feline Miliary Dermatitis)

According to Mercola, if you have noticed that your cat has been scratching more often than usual and exhibiting obsessive grooming habits, it may be due to feline dermatitis. Hallmarked by inflammation of the skin, this condition is primarily caused by allergies.

You may find that your cat chews on its skin. Any scab caused by an allergen will have been made worse by these actions. This can result in a painful cycle that your cat won’t be able to resolve without your help.

cat has scabs and hair loss

The most common visual symptoms include:

  • Lesions
  • Bumps
  • Sores
  • Scabs
  • Redness
  • Bald stomach

If your cat has thick and matted fur, you may not be able to see any visible clues easily. Even large black scabs on cats will seem quite small when buried underneath several layers of thick fur.

Why Do Cats Get Scabs?

If something itches, you are naturally inclined to scratch. If the issue is perpetual so will be the desire to get rid of the problem. This is how most skin scabbing and skin lesions come to exist.

1) Fleas and Flea Bites

According to Skin Vet Clinic, flea allergy dermatitis occurs due to hypersensitivity to flea saliva.

It tends to be a seasonal ailment, peaking in the summer months. It can affect indoor cats, but it’s most common among cats that spend a lot of their time outdoors.

Flea allergy issues in cats are easy to treat. Frontline Plus and Sentry Fiproguard Plus can be used to get rid of fleas and their eggs fast. Each option will keep your cat flea-free for about six months. You can also get a stronger flea medication that’s prescribed by a veterinarian.

Once the fleas are gone, your cat’s skin will calm down, and the itchiness will begin to subside. If your cat is prone to fleas, you should make sure that they are receiving year-round flea control.

2) Seasonal Conditions and Allergens

As the seasons begin to change, so do the various allergens that are present.

Grass, mold, and pollen can cause skin issues for felines. If your cat has scabs on the neck but no fleas it could be due to a seasonal allergy.

Many times, a seasonal allergy (atopic dermatitis) is diagnosed through reason and deduction. If fleas and food concerns have been eliminated, seasonal conditions should be explored.

Because allergy skin testing for cats is not as common as it is for dogs, it can be difficult to determine what environmental allergen is serving as the trigger.

Your cat may have to take daily medication for life to control an allergy issue. Because it is impossible to remove your cat from the environment, you’ll need to change the medicine.

Your vet will determine which treatment is right for your cat. Some cats are unable to tolerate specific types of allergy medication, so a trial and error may be required to find a solution.

3) Cat Foods

According to Cornel College of Veterinary Medicine, food allergies are the third leading cause of allergic dermatitis in cats. This may be a reaction to specific proteins from meat and vegetables.

Signs of a food allergy include:

If these core symptoms continue for several months, an allergy test may be required. This will help your vet to determine the cause of the allergy. This process can take many weeks, and your cat will consume an altered diet that’s primarily hypoallergenic.

If a food allergy is confirmed, your vet will instruct you on how to proceed. It is possible that the introduction of a hypoallergenic diet will resolve the issue.

4) Bedding and Home Furnishing Materials

Have you ever purchased new clothing and found yourself scratching continuously? Cats can feel the same if their bedding or furnishings are a source of skin irritation.

If your cat often scratches aggressively or seems to be in discomfort after sleeping, the culprit could be the bedding and its material.

Allergic reactions can lead to scabbing and constant grooming. During severe cases, your cat may refuse to sleep in certain regions of the home and no longer associate itself with certain belongings.

5) Mites

Mites can be found in various materials around the house, as well as warm air, and can result in painful scabs on your cat.

Feeding on skin cells, viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc., mites can produce symptoms such as hair loss and coughing. According to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, it is estimated that some 30-80% of all felines allergies are the result of dust mites.

Cat owners are encouraged to vacuum their homes and clean their carpets once per week. Washing your cat’s bedding is critical to preventing a dust mite issue.

Outside of hair loss and coughing, the presence of mites can cause many other symptoms. Some of which are quite alarming and should be treated ASAP.

Here are the main signs to look out for:

  • Intense scratching of the ears and ear area
  • The visual of fresh or dried blood on the ear and within the ear canal
  • Small white marks or mites inside the ear
  • A loss of balance and a staggered walk
  • Hanging of the head to one side
  • Flattened ears
  • Foul odor

If you do not notice white dots within the ear, but many other symptoms are present, it is essential that you check your feline’s entire body. Mites can travel all over a cat’s frame quickly.

Treating a mite outbreak is critical for everyone involved as they’re highly contagious. This means that they can easily infect other animals that are living in your home.

6) Dandruff

Cat dandruff often affects the back of a cat’s tail. Greasy hair is one of the most common secondary symptoms of feline dandruff, excluding the flaking.

Because dandruff in cats is so hard to treat, it is often just accepted. Although specialized shampoos can be applied, the success rates are low.

7) Shampoo and Grooming Products

Contact dermatitis is often linked to an external factor that is harming your feline’s skin. Various types of soaps, shampoos, and grooming products could be the reason for scab on cats. Even a flea collar can be an irritant, which can be an added complication.

If you are concerned that a specific product is to blame, have your cat thoroughly examined. The location of scabs could be a telling sign as to which product is to blame. For example, scabs on the neck that aren’t caused by fleas could be due to the collar’s material.

Some feline care products are hair type specific. Make sure that you are using the right products for the right cat. Additionally, you should never use skin and hair products that are designed for humans. Not all shampoos and facial wipes are fit for purpose.

scabs on cats back

Irritation Caused by Scabs

If a full-body irritation has set in, your cat will scratch and chew at reachable areas. Large patches of skin may be removed in an attempt to resolve the issue.

Existing scabs can cause further scabs, hence the reason why you need to find out the cause and commence treatment. The presence of scabs will become a significant irritant for your pet.

If there are scabs on your cat’s chin, the constant act of scratching can damage the area further and create additional scabs, redness, and swelling. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle that must be stopped.

What Are the Treatments for Scabs on Cats?

Treatments primarily depend on the condition that has been diagnosed. Your vet will give your cat the most suitable treatment based on the underlying cause. Here are some of the options:

  • A dip, spray, shampoo, or topical ointment will be provided or administered on site
  • Antibiotics
  • Dietary changes may be required if there is a food allergy
  • Cleaning and vacuuming your home regularly be beneficial, particularly if you have other pets

Never attempt to resolve a health concern without expert advice. Without having your vet perform a diagnosis, you could do more harm than good by trying to treat what you do not understand.

What if a Scab on Cat Won’t Heal?

Scabs that refuse to heal or begin to scab over again can be an issue.

If a scab has not healed within 7-10 days of initial identification, it could be the result of an allergy or something far more severe, such as squamous cell carcinoma.

How Can You Improve Your Cats Dry Skin?

In order to get rid of dry skin in cats, you should try the following:

1) Improved Diet

Foods that high in protein can give new life to your feline’s skin. Providing your cat omega three fatty acids and supplements can prove beneficial.

Combined with a balanced diet, omega three can add moisture to your cat’s skin. Supplements that promote skin health can also be introduced if vet-approved.

2) Topical creams and shampoos

If your cat’s hair has taken a dirty, greasy, or sticky texture, shampoo can be highly beneficial.

Applying topical creams can rid your cat of fleas and ticks. This will eliminate bites that cause your cat to scratch and chew inflamed skin.

3) Prescription medication

If an infection has been diagnosed, your vet may choose to treat the issue by introducing antibiotics or antifungal treatments.

4) Clean and Vacuum Your Home

When you have a clean house, you will be more likely to have a clean cat.

Something as basic as adding moisture into various rooms of your home can help your cat’s skin. The introduction of a humidifier could be something to consider if your feline has flaky, dry skin.

While your cat is expected to scratch, his or her normal scratching should not cause sores or scabs. You should suspect that something is wrong when you find a cluster of scabs on your cat’s skin.

The cause is rooted in an allergy, fleas, mites, etc. Additionally, scabbing can also be the result of your cat attempting to clear up existing scabs. Constant distress will lead to more problems. If you have had your cat for a long time, then you likely know their habits better than anyone.

Although most scabbing can be easily treated once the cause is found, that cause is often only discovered with the guidance of a vet. Attempting to self-diagnose and treat your cat is unwise.