Large Cat skin Lesion and Scab

by Alexis George
(Calgary, Alberta Canada)

We have a 13 year old short hair cat with a large (quarter sized) red, slightly oozy lesion on his neck. He also has various small scabs in on his head/neck and various other areas (although more perdominantly in the head/neck/shoulder area.

We have taken him in twice causing him great stress and getting no results. It seems like it has been a process of elimination.

Allergies, mites/parasites and fungus have been ruled out. He took antibiotics for a week and nothing changed. We changed his food to rule out allergies.

He is a tiny cat but eats well and his stool is normal and he urinates regularly.

It doesn't seem to irritate him very often but it is gross and we obviously would like to figure out what it is. I am frustrated that I have spend almost $700 and have seen no positive results.

Any ideas I can take back to my vet??

Editor Reesponse: Cat Skin Lesions that will not go away

Dear Alexis:

Thank you for your cat skin care question and sorry to hear about the persistent feline skin lesions and scabs.

Cat skin problems with prominent symptoms such as redness and oozing lesions may be caused by various reasons.

In older cats, non–infectious causes should be considered, which are often related to diet, systemic problems and any chance of tumors.

Cat skin lesions that are accompanied by no other physiological problems such as fever, swelling the of lymph nodes and progressive loss of condition (body weight, appetite, excretion etc), represents that yours cat is suffering from some underlying condition related to non–infectious

This may be related to a systemic hormonal level disturbance, a sebaceous gland disorder (skin ulceration, recurring epidermitis), auto-immune diseases or feline eosinophillic granuloma complex.

If the lesions heal properly and only cat skin scabs are left behind, then this problem is possibly related to a hormonal disturbance or a reaction caused by dietary contents or any other idiopathic allergic cause.

But, if the lesions do not heal properly and are worsening over time, we suggest taking your cat for a detailed biopsy for confirmation of any cancerous developments.

Both of these possibilities are more common in older cats. Since you have been administering antibiotics and other therapeutics, such as corticosteroids, the treatment method being currently used will make it more difficult to confirm the underlying cause.

Here, although we cannot confirm the exact cause, we recommend that you try the skin gel Dermasol, which can help to enhance the healing of lesions.

Additionally, some natural remedies can be used along with the specific cat skin treatment prescribed by your veterinarian. These natural remedies will help to support overall cat skin health and to balance the cat's immunological strength. These include Skin and Coat Tonic to support skin health and C-Caps to support the immune system.

In such idiopathic cases of cat skin problems, antibiotics are mandatory to eliminate any chance of secondary problems; amoxicillin-clavulanate, cefadroxil, or fluoroquinolones are the more effective antibiotics, which should only be administered with a prescription by a veterinarian.

Please keep us up to date on how you were above to control the cat skin lesions and scab problem, or with any updates.

Comments for Large Cat skin Lesion and Scab

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Jan 28, 2013
Large Scab on Cat
by: Bj

My 9 yr old cat had lesions on her side that almost looked like teeth marks,she is an indoor/outdoor cat.A large scab healed across it, the vet shaved off all and started her on antibiotics,not much help,then gave her a shot,no help,next clindacure plus/steroid. sores have healed with large scab that is growing. back to vet tomorrow

Apr 14, 2015
Poor cat
by: Anonymous

My kitty was 4oz when born and near didn't make it. She was doing ok for a couple of years, but last year and this ; she has been getting one or two little lumps and it sounds like the same symptoms as your cat. Then she has tiny scabs or dandruff in the comb. I definitely do not see eggs or fleas in the comb. She has gone to the vet and was diagnosed with a flea infection and allergies to food. She got so much meds from the vet she truly came near death. I will not take her back for fear they don't know what to do . She has been fine lately, I think she may have an allergy to salmon, strange as it seems, but once in a while she gets a small lump and I don't know if it is a bug bite or allergy to something else. I am really starting to suspect her immune system. I am going to try some herbal caps and the cream that was in the reply to your note. I bet that will work the best. We shall see.

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Cat Hair Loss and Skin Scabs

by Autumn G.

Cat Hair Loss and Skin Scabs Reader Question

He's a Persian Cat about 5 years old. He's both an indoor and outdoor cat. He goes through these periods where he just loses patches of hair and there are wounds underneath them. I'm not sure if it's because of him being really itchy for some reason, and him chewing his itches or if maybe he's really ill.

The past few months he's gotten horribly skinny, though his stomach is pretty big, his hair just looks horribly thin and he's got scabs all over his body.

I thought maybe he had fleas and tried giving him a bath with flea shampoo, needless to say, he didn't enjoy it. I decided to do it now, because it appeared that all of his wounds were scabs and I didn't want to get his shampoo in them.

After the bath I was drying him off and it looked like the scabs were coming off, I'm unsure whether that's a good thing or bad thing, but then he started licking himself, and it appeared as if he was chewing something, or gagging on something, then he started drooling profusely.

I have no clue what's wrong, but I'm really concerned about him. I've taken him to the little vet clinic in my town and they've just told us that he's allergic to fleas. but they've said that about all of our animals, basically. None of our other pets are like this, though.

Do you know what could be wrong with him?

Cat Hair Loss and Skin Scabs Editor Response:

Dear Autumn,

Thank you for your question and sorry to hear about your cat's skin problem.

The symptoms mentioned indicates that your cat has an allergic condition, as allergy can cause alopecia (cat hair loss), itching and the formation of scabs. As you mentioned, this condition has persisted for a few months, making it possible that your cat is now at risk for secondary infections (both bacterial and fungal).

We suggest trying a medicated shampoo such as Clinical Care Antiseptic & Anti-fungal Medicated Shampoo for bathing your pet; follow the instructions carefully when applying shampoo. Apply a preparation/cream thereafter such as FleaDerm, which can relieve itchiness and treat any allergic reaction caused by a possible flea bite.

To prevent your cat from licking and chewing, you should use a collar that prevents this from happening such as an E-Collar. If your cat is licking and trying to ingest scabs or the possible culprit/cause of the condition (parasite/bacteria/fungus) it can cause a generalized illness that may worsen the condition.

In addition, as a precautionary measure and for the safety of your family and cat, disinfect your cat's environment with a quality disinfectant such as Benzarid, particularly if the problem is fleas and parasites that that cause a recurrence of any problem.

Please keep us updated on your cat's condition.

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Jan 24, 2010
Me too
by: Anonymous

I also had a persian with the same problem. I took him to the vet and they gave me a cream to rub on the spot. It worked perfectly.

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Cat Skin Scabs

by Zack m
(newtown, pennsylvania)

Strange scabs keep appearing on my cat, I first noticed two. Now there are a few more everyday.

They are round about the size of a large pea, they are brown and crumbly. I probably shouldn't, but I have been picking them off and putting neosporin on them. It's an outdoor cat and it likes to fight.

Could this just be injuries from fighting or something worse?

Suggestions from the Vet regarding cat skin scabs

Hi Zack,

I supposed the scabs could be from fighting, but it would be a little odd since you keep seeing more developing every day. I’d hope your cat isn’t getting into fights this frequently! My guess is that your cat has some type of skin disease.

Your best bet is to get him in to the veterinarian for diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Do you have him on a flea preventative? If not, check him for fleas (I’m wondering if the scabs you mention could be a reaction to flea bites).

The best way to do this is to ruffle up his fur in various places on his body, especially right in front of his tail, and keep your eyes open for something that looks like coffee grounds. This would be flea “poop,” and where there is flea poop, there are fleas.

Frontline is a very safe and effective flea treatment and preventative.

Good luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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Feb 16, 2014
Cat scabs
by: Myra

My mother has an indoor cat that has recently started to get scabs back by her tail and is gradually moving up her back. She does lick herself so it must itch. There are no open lesions, just scabs. No fleas as we are in the dead of winter. I have Revolution on hand, I live in Illinois and we are getting lots of snow which makes it hard to take her to her vet. What would you suggest we use, she is about 8 years old. Thank you

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Cat with Scabs

by John Bouchard

I love my 13 year old tabby. She's my family. In the last 2 or 3 months she has lost weight and developed bad skin. Her head is covered with little scabs and she has them on her body. Her left side has a small patch of fur missing.

I was feeding her Friskies, but have switched to a higher protein food in the last couple of weeks. I also give her baths every so often and brush her to try to prevent hairballs, which she gets more of due to the fact that she licks and scratches so much now. I can't afford to take her to vet yet.

Cat with Scabs Cat Health Guide Editor Comment

Dear John,

Thanks for submitting your question regarding cat scabs.

As skin is exposed to the environment, it is susceptible to many factors which can cause health problems. Cat skin problems can be caused by a problem that starts on the skin or that is due to an internal condition. The result is cat skin lesions, scabs and itching over the skin.

In this case, unfortunately, a definite diagnosis cannot be made on the basis of the description you provided. A clinical examination by a veterinarian is needed. Lab tests are also needed using skin scrapings and blood tests to confirm whatever is causing the cat skin problem.

However, based on the limited description provided, the age and type of cat; we can suggest some supportive measures and tips.

First of all, age is the most crucial part of your description. Tabby cats that are this age usually develop several internal conditions that can cause skin problems in cats.

In this case, it seems related to the feline thyroid gland, as you said that the body is covered with scabs and fur is missing in patches and has lost weight. All of these signs indicate that your cat is possibly experiencing thyroid problems.

This does not mean that other possibilities should be eliminated, it is possible that your cat has secondary conditions as well, related to feline skin infections or parasitic infestations.

It is recommended that you use a quality medicated shampoo such as Clinical Care Antiseptic Antifungal Medicated Shampoo to bathe your cat. You can also try some natural remedies such as Skin and Coat Tonic, which can help to improve the health status of the skin and coat. This will help to reduce local symptoms such as itching, scabs, lesions and fur loss.

Additionally, groom your cat regularly as diseased cats usually do not groom themselves on a regular basis. You can try a furball remedy such as Furball Dr. as well.

Since, your cat is possibly having a cat thyroid problem, you can also try a natural remedy that supports thyroid gland function such as Thyro-Pet. Also, make sure that you are feeding your cat a quality cat food. Some components of cat food such as fish, beef and milk products should not be used, as these are most commonly related to skin problems in cats.

If the condition does not improve in a few weeks, your cat needs to be examined by a veterinarian who can administer the necessary laboratory tests. A definite diagnosis and specific treatment for the problem identified is the only way to treat your cat at this point.

Please keep us up to date on the cat scabs and your cats skin condition.

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Mar 04, 2010
Cat with Scabs
by: Anonymous

First line of treatment should be "Revolution" to take care of parasites. Need to get to vet for a skin scraping and if neg, antibiotics will be tried. Give one week and if it does not look better a culture will be needed to test for things like fungi infection.

Mar 26, 2010
sounds like my kitten
by: Anonymous

My kitten recently developed the same symptoms. I've also been feeding her Friskies and today when I fed her she wouldn't even eat her food. I'm wondering if this is an allergy. I cannot afford to take her to the vet this week but hopefully I will be able to next week. First, a small bump near her ear started growing and this morning I noticed she had a patch of hair missing near the back of her head and the bump has grown a lot. She's an indoor cat so it's not likely she was injured in some way.

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Cat Skin Scabs and Weight Loss

by June

My cat is a girl. Her name is Hannah. She is a black and white long hair beautiful cat. She is and always have been so loving, full of spunk.

She is 11 now and this past month maybe 2 I noticed clumps of scabs. They are not flat to the skin but in thick clumps. I thought they were clumps of maybe fleas or eggs.

She is strictly an indoor cat. Once in a while in the summer she is out on the raised deck about 10 to 12 feet off the ground. She was chubby but always had healthy visits.

She is on a strict IAMS diet and crystals for cat litter. She has lost so much weight that her tummy skin hangs beneath her and the scabs are just covering her body.

It use to be mostly around her neck and by her butt, but now its everywhere. It's an overwhelming amount. She isn't really losing anymore hair than a normal cat shedding. but she licks her self alot and is biting herself alot.

I try to stop her every time I see her doing this. They don't seem to hurt her to touch them but she now does not like to be petted so much.

I want to take her to the vet but she gets so freaked out from the car ride in her carry all. She gets very very sick. I have tried to take her without it and she tried to jump through a closed window and almost knocked herself out. so I have held back from taking her.

I feel I am neglecting her but how do I help her without hurting her more. The only thing that has changed is my husband brings home some moist canned food as a treat for her and only gives her a spoonful every other day. and one other thing that has changed is the tension in my home.

There is alot more yelling and when this happens she takes off running. Do you think its possible this is from the moist canned food and possibly the yelling in the home?

I'm desperate.

Vet Suggestion

Hi June,

I do not think that the small amount of canned food that your cat is getting or the yelling is responsible for her condition. Increased stress and dietary allergies can make cats sick, but your cat’s symptoms are rather serious and I would be surprised if these issues alone were to blame.

I understand that veterinary visits are unpleasant for your cat, but sometimes we all have to do things that we would rather not because they are truly in our best interest (I have to remind myself of this every time I go to the dentist).

So please, no matter how much your cat complains, get her into that carrier and to the doctor’s office.

Her life may depend on it.

Good luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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Jun 14, 2011
Try going the holistic way
by: Sarah

Definitely take her to the vet, but if at all possible, try to find an integrative or holistic vet. Skin problems are sometimes a result from build-up of toxins in the system, and holistic/integrative vets are familiar with this. I would also suggest trying to find a natural food that she likes (Halo, Wellness etc.) Also, probiotics might be helpful - check out

Jan 07, 2012
Scabs on the neck and head of most of my 8 cats
by: roseyoung-stewart

I have come to the conclusion, we are being sabotaged by pet food companies, manufacturers of dry cat food, who are putting something in their food, just like they did about 2 years ago... remember the melamine in China and it affected the world because China was supplying cat food companies with some additive in the dry food? well i think it is now some other additive. who knows what. I'm not a chemist. I've got no idea but I do know almost all of my 8 indoor/outdoor cats have this scabby head and neck problem. I don't like it because they are irritated i can tell because most of their waking time is spent biting, scratching, and it gets worse. I will say I buy chicken thighs and chicken livers and get quite a lot of it in the course of a week. Also I buy a lot of turkey. I just cook an entire turkey and they get most of it, so it's not as if I am giving them only commercial food.

Editor Comment

Although we understand the desire of most owners to provide a home cooked diet, we are reluctant to make that suggestion unless a veterinary nutritionist recommended the diet. All cat diets that are AAFCO certified (the industry certification). have to meet scientifically established levels of 40 food components. Reputable companies are continually researching the balance of these components based on reported feline illnesses. When you add human food to the mix, you are adjusting a diet that was already balanced for healthy cats.

I'd suggest stopping the feeding of any human food, and stay with a high quality commercial diet. Then see a vet to understand what is specifically causing the problem. For example, the most common cause is a flea bite hypersensitivity. Fleas are great at hiding from view. Also, I'm concerned that all your cats have the problem, indicating either a parasite or something that is contagious.

As another option, consider fortifying the diet with a natural fish oil supplement to see if the cat's skin condition improves. If it does not, see a veterinarian who may go even further and suggest a hypoallergenic diet assuming that other common causes of cat skin disease are eliminated such as fleas and mites.

During recovery, products such as Dermasol (vitamin A and E topical) and a homeopathic such as Skin and Coat Tonic may be of value.

If you can't afford a vet, follow our updated advice on the page on cat skin problems.

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Cat Skin Sores and Raised Scabs

by Jennie
(Gaffney, SC)

Reader Question: How To Treat Scabs On A Kitten

My cat... which we found on the side of a road as a tiny kitten whose mother was ran over... We have no idea how old she really is but guess she is about 6 months now as she was still nursing when we found her. Our vet told us how to feed her and we bottle fed her for 3 more weeks. She began to eat on her own soft kitten chow soaked in kitten formula until she began to eat it dry without problems. She had developed a few sores on her back and began to lose her hair and that needed attention. The vet gave her some ointment and an antibiotic.

Now she has little scabs all over her body that she scratches all the time and some of them are turning into sores because she won’t leave them alone. It feels awful to rub her, they are everywhere. Our vet says use the ointment, that isn't working. I have searched the web for pictures that look like what she has and I haven't seen one that looks like this. HELP!!

Veterinarian Responds To Treating Cat Skin Scabs


Unfortunately, getting to the bottom of chronic skin problems in cats can be a bit of a diagnostic challenge. If your cat were my patient, I would start with a complete physical exam looking for something obvious like fleas and to get a general feel for your cat’s overall health. Next, I would perform a skin scraping to look for microscopic parasites like mites, skin cytology to rule out a bacterial or yeast infections, and pluck some hairs to run a fungal culture for ringworm. All of these tests are cheap and easy to perform.

It can take up to three weeks to get the result of a fungal culture, so we sometimes have to start treatment without a definitive diagnosis. I often prescribe a dose of Revolution to deal with any parasites that can be hard to find on diagnostic tests and a medicated shampoo while waiting on the fungal culture results. If all the diagnostic tests come back negative and our initial treatment plan was ineffective, more diagnostic tests (e.g., allergy testing or skin biopsies) would be necessary.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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Cat Skin Scabs on Back and Ears

by Judy Armstrong
(Marengo, IL)

I have a four year old female cat who has developed scabby areas across her back. She has red bumps on her ears. She is losing hair in both places.

The vet did not know what it is. He gave her a shot of antibiotics and cortisone. It completely cleared up. However, it has now returned. I was wondering if there was an ointment I could use to improve this condition.

Veterinarian Suggestion for treating Cat Skin Scabs on Back and Ears

Hi Judy,

Ointments are not very effective in cats since they tend to rapidly lick them off. Your best bet is to focus on diagnosing your cat so future treatments have the best chance at being successful.

Did your veterinarian run a fungal culture to look for ringworm, take skin scrapings to rule out mites, and perform cytology to diagnose skin infections? If not, this would be the way that I would go.

If all of these tests were negative, I would then give your cat several doses of a medication called Revolution to empirically treat her for flea allergies and some of the mites that can be very difficult to find with routine diagnostic procedures.

If that didn’t do it, I might make a tentative diagnosis of allergies since she seemed to temporarily respond to the cortisone injection. A food trial with a hypoallergenic diet would be reasonable at this point, as would either symptomatic treatment for environmental allergies like pollen, mold, and dust mites or intradermal allergy testing if you prefer.

Good luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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