Feline Cyst

"A feline cyst is a deformity of follicular (hair related) skin tissues. Some types of cat cysts are known as infundibular follicular cysts (Sebaceous cyst), Matrix cysts, Hybrid cysts, dilated pores of winer, and tumors. Most of these cysts are a keratinisation of the hair follicles (protein deposit that makes skin rough) or tumors of the hair follicles. These appear to be bumps anywhere on the skin but most commonly seen on the limbs, toes, head, neck and chest. Treatment involves surgical drainage, resection or may involve some physical therapy techniques."

Types of Cat Cysts:

A feline cyst may occur anywhere on the skin, especially at the base of the hair follicles. Different forms of cat cysts may be due to sebum secretion (glandular secretion at the base of the hair which keeps skin oily), keratinisation of the hair base and tumors. Some of most common types of cat cysts are:

  1. Infundibular Follicular Cyst; Also called a sebaceous cyst, epidermal inclusion cyst or epidermoid cyst. This cyst is an accumulation of fatty and greasy material under the hair follicles. Outer sheath of hair follicles gets dilated on accumulation & with time being develops into a bump, called infundibular follicular cyst. The dilated sheath is filled with oily secretions called sebume. Sebume may be composed mainly of glycerides and fatty acids. 
  2. Matrix Cyst; This cyst is also a follicular cat cyst, but develops in the matrix of the lower part of the outer sheath of the hair follicle, where keratinisation is more common. These are hard cat cysts, and may develop into pilomatricomas, a follicular tumor. 
  3. Hybrid Cyst; A hybrid cyst is a combined form of cat cyst. The sebaceous, matrix and an uncommon trichilemmal cat cyst occurs in combination & more complicated form, it is clinically termed as hybrid cyst. This is also called pan follicular cyst. These cysts may develop in to hair follicular tumors called, trichoepitheliomas. 
  4. Dialted Pores of Winer: These are neoplasms which is an area on uncontrolled cell growth. Older cats can develop cysts that look like dome–shaped lesions, which get hardened and appears as a cyst. These are benign (slow growing, not cancer) in nature and are called “Cutaneous horns” clinically. 
  5. Tumors: Different tumors, which are mostly benign in nature, are rarely malignant (cancerous) and may also appear as a cyst on the cat’s body. These tumors may also be derived from a matrix cyst, hybrid cyst or from dilated pores of winer. These may be pilomatricomas, trichoepitheliomas, squamous cell carcinomas etc.

Signs and Symptoms of a Feline Cyst:

Cat cysts may appear as bumps on the skin surface. These are freely movable bodies, which may appear as papules or nodular lesions. Sebaceous cat cysts may be partially compressible on palpation (when touched); chronic forms of cat cysts are hard and may be painful in some cases. Cats with cysts may not feel uncomfortable, but if these cysts appear on the toes or near the bones, some cats may show lameness. Ventral cat cysts (those located on the abdomen) and those that appear near joints may cause the cat to become uncomfortable with the feline cycsts while sitting or running.

Chronic cases of feline cysts may develop into tumors and cancers. A benign form of cancerous tumor is more common, but malignant forms exist as well, like those of squamous cell carcinoma in sebaceous cat cysts. Such cats may show papular or nodular lesions as well.

Diagnosis of a Feline Cyst:

Diagnosis of a feline cyst may involve physical examination. Palpation (touching the cyst) may reveal the form and degree of the cat cyst problem. Taking a nutritional history and that of pyoderma (skin ulcer formation) are helpful in making a diagnosis.

Sebaceous cat cysts usually have small openings through the epidermis (outer layer of skin), through which exudates can be extruded (puss, liquid). Yellowish, Gray or brown greasy material is a sign of a sebaceous cat cyst. A matrix cyst may not reveal signs of exudates; they appear as hard object under the skin. Tumors on other hand can be diagnosed with a biopsy and examination of its' contents.

Treatment of a Cat Cyst:

A feline cyst is mostly treated surgically. The only option for sebaceous cysts is surgical drainage. Drainage should be operated by qualified veterinarian since it may cause a rupture of surrounding capillaries, which appear to be dilated in a cyst. Severe bleeding is usually a secondary complication of surgical drainage. After a successful drainage a localized and generalized antibiotic course should be used to reduce the chances of secondary infection.

Complete excision of hard objects, like that in the case of a matrix and hybrid cyst is preferred. Similarly benign tumors should be completely excised (removed) along with radiation therapy.

Added support for the skin and coat may be possible with a homeopathic remedy such as PetAlive Skin and Coat Tonic for Healthy Skin and a Glossy Coat in pets.


The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health (Home Edition)


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