Skin Infection in Cats: Everything You Need to Know

Infections in the skin of cats are often associated with parasites, bacteria or fungi and more rarely with viruses.

It is very uncommon for adults and otherwise healthy cats to get skin infections.

There is usually an underlying cause for the cat to become ill and if it is not identified and treated, it can be difficult to overcome the skin problems.


A cat’s skin can be attacked by various microorganisms such as ringworm, ear infections, fleas and lice, or in rare cases certain viral diseases such as smallpox. Skin infections can also be associated with bacteria and yeasts.

Depending on what paved the way for the infection, it can be oral / intestinal bacteria (especially in connection with cat bites) or common skin bacteria or yeasts that for some reason have increased in number and caused infection.

In the latter case, one should examine whether the cat has any underlying susceptibility that paved the way for infection.


Early signs of skin infection with bacteria are small red patches that can become large and sometimes yellowish in the middle.

Later in the course and in case of infection with ringworm, hair loss can be seen.

In viral diseases, more specific skin changes of a different nature can be seen, depending on the virus in question. Cats with skin infection may have moderate to severe itching, which also causes hair loss and broken hairs.


The symptoms of skin infection and dermatitis are often non-specific, ie it is difficult to say what caused the condition simply by doing a regular clinical examination of the cat.

The veterinarian therefore usually wants to take samples from the skin to look at under a microscope and / or do a culture on. In some cases, it becomes relevant to proceed with several examinations, such as different blood samples.


For cats with uncomplicated, limited infection of the skin, external cleansing is often sufficient, possibly in combination with local or general cortisone treatment. Cats usually need to have a collar, as they otherwise like to lick and trim the irritated area, which makes healing difficult.

It can take time to get the skin infection completely healed and the veterinarian usually wants the cat to come for one or more return visits before the treatment ends.

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