Jump to section

What are Feline Miliary Dermatitis?

Feline miliary dermatitis is the term vets use when they explain the skin condition affecting a cat, as the reaction looks like tiny millet seeds on the cat’s skin.This condition is also called scabby cat disease, papulocrusting dermatitis and miliary eczema. The rash appears most often around the neck and head of the cat, going down its back.

Feline miliary dermatitis is a term used to describe several skin conditions, usually as the result of an allergic reaction. The allergy could be to flea bites or other types of allergens. Harvest mites, walking dandruff, ear mites and lice can also lead to the development of this condition. Food allergies can also cause allergic reactions that show up on the cat’s skin. 

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
advertisement image

Feline Miliary Dermatitis Average Cost

From 344 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$500

Protect yourself and your pet. Compare top pet insurance plans.

Symptoms of Feline Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

Cats that develop feline miliary dermatitis display:

  • Tiny, red crusty bumps on the skin (near the head and neck, and running down the back)
  • Hair loss
  • Intense itching and scratching
  • Hair pulling
  • Thickened skin that is darker than surrounding skin
  • Grazed areas on the skin resulting from constant scratching

When a food allergy causes feline miliary dermatitis, the cat develops sores and scabs around its head and tail. Some circular sores can be found around the shoulders.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Feline Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

Cats can develop this skin condition from one of many causes, or a combination of several:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Flea bite hypersensitivity (most common cause)
  • Cheyletiellosis mite
  • Hormone/endocrine disorder
  • Allergies (food, inhalant, or food intolerance issues)
  • Drug hypersensitivity
  • Poor diet
  • Mites
  • Ringworm
  • Immune-mediated diseases (immune disorders)
  • Contact allergies (rare)

In warm-climate areas or flea-infested areas, this skin condition can develop more frequently in cats. Cold-winter regions may see this condition develop much more often in the summer months.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Feline Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

The vet will rely mainly on the cat’s medical history and the clinical signs of the condition to make a diagnosis. If they know, for instance, that the cat has experienced food intolerance or food allergies, they are more likely to tell the cat’s owner that the cat has developed feline miliary dermatitis.  

It’s not easy to spot fleas on a cat, but if the vet sees flea dirt or feces on the cat, they are also likely to provide this diagnosis. The cause may be determined as a flea allergy, but if it doesn’t respond to a flea treatment, the vet will run additional tests to narrow down the diagnosis:

  • Serum IgE allergy testing
  • Skin scraping
  • Fur samples
  • Hypoallergenic food trial
  • Fecal examination to look for intestinal parasites
  • Biochemical profile
  • Biopsies
  • Referral to a veterinary dermatologist

Veterinarians

 take into account the locations of the rashes and lesions in making their diagnosis. They will also measure the size of the lesions and determine what kind they are.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Feline Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

Treatment is straightforward: Remove the irritants and make the cat more comfortable until the lesions heal.

Cat owners need to remove fleas from the cat’s home environment, which may help relieve many of its symptoms. If the fleas return, the allergy symptoms and rashes will return. Because cats groom themselves daily, it’s rare to find live fleas on their bodies.

If the cause of the cat’s skin condition is a food allergy or intolerance, the Pet Parent will need to switch the cat to a different food. It is vital that, once a food allergy has been diagnosed, the cat does not eat the allergy-causing food. If the cat has been allowed to roam outdoors, it will have to stay indoors permanently to reduce the risk of eating an offending food or hunting and eating prey that could cause a relapse.

The cat owner will need to give the cat one of several medications:

  • Antihistamines
  • Corticosteroids
  • Fatty acid supplements (skin oil replacements)
  • Antibiotics
  • Topical ointments
  • Special shampoo to stop inflammation and itching

For intestinal parasites, the cat will have to take medication that helps to eliminate the parasites.

Allergy shots for cats are controversial—they are used only for cats who are severely affected

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Feline Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

The prognosis for cats diagnosed with miliary dermatitis are excellent. Once the offending substance has been eliminated from the cat’s environment or food, the cat will recover. Its skin will heal and fur will grow back.

The cat owner will have to be vigilant in keeping fleas from returning to the home if the cat’s condition is flea allergy-related. The new food given to the cat will be a permanent part of its diet. Since many causes of miliary dermatitis are allergy-related, the cat may need occasional treatments with corticosteroids to keep flare-ups from becoming severe. 

As the cat gets older, its allergies may get worse. If it has been diagnosed with more than one allergy, its recovery may not be total, meaning it needs to continue with treatment to keep skin reactions and symptoms under control.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Feline Miliary Dermatitis Average Cost

From 344 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$500

Protect yourself and your pet. Compare top pet insurance plans.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Written by hannah hollinger

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 11/09/2016, edited: 04/15/2021

More articles by hannah hollinger

Feline Miliary Dermatitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

domestic cat

dog-age-icon

Five Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

15 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Scabs, Excessive Scratching/Grooming

I’m wondering why my cat randomly gets lots of scabs under his chin, on his neck, sides and flank. He seems to aggressively itch and groom himself. I’ve given him flea treatments, ear mite treatments.

Jan. 8, 2021

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Maureen M. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

15 Recommendations

Hi, Sorry sbout that. It could be an allergic reaction. The scabs are hot spots from the constant itching and licking. Allergies can be as a result of food, weather, dust etc. Please visit your vet for some steroids or antihistamines to calm down the discomfort.

Jan. 8, 2021

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

siamese mix

dog-age-icon

One Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

11 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Scabs And Scratching And Licking Loss Of Hair And Redness

This cat is a feral cat I've been feeding and building a relationship with this cat since he was a kitten. I fell in love after a year of doing so. I final got him to come in and his neck has sores and hair loss please help

Jan. 3, 2021

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

11 Recommendations

Hello, this looks like a hot spot. I would clean this area and apply Neosporin or hot spot spray that you can get from the pet store to this area. If this does not improve after a few days he may need to see a vet for antibiotics.

Jan. 3, 2021

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

cat

dog-age-icon

Six Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

6 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Scabs And Throwing Up

He has been throwing up daily now. He has scabs all over his body and I have been giving him Benedryl.

Dec. 9, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

6 Recommendations

Hello, SO sorry to hear about your cat. If he is vomiting every day. It would be best to see your vet. This could be hairballs but could be something else. Your vet will want to take x rays or run bloodwork to see what is causing him to vomit. Benadryl is great at helping with allergies. I hope your cat starts to feel better soon.

Dec. 9, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Long hair car

dog-age-icon

Ten Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

7 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss Red Bumps

I believe my cat my have military dermatitis if I get him a flea collar with it help

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

7 Recommendations

There are many causes for miliary dermatitis, and fleas or other parasites are certainly one of them. Flea collars don't tend to work very well, and if he is not on any flea control, a topical medication like Advantage might be a better idea. If you are not sure, it would be safest to have a veterinarian prescribe a safe flea treatment, so that you can make sure that you are buying something that will work. I Hope that all goes well for him.

Oct. 9, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Maine Coon Mix

dog-age-icon

12 weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Rough Scaby Spots

I just adopted a kitten, we have had her for a week now. I noticed she had a rough spot on her back a few days ago and she had been sneezing a lot. I did make a vet appointment for next week but I'm wondering if she should be seen sooner. she has developed a few new spots on her head, ear and nose. I also have a 4 year old AmStaff and I'm worried if it's something that could be contagious.

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Kittens are commonly affected by ringworm, and I would be concerned about that with the lesions that you are describing. It would probably be best to keep the kitten separated from your dog until the appointment with your veterinarian, and make sure to wash your hands after handling the kitten. Frequent washing of bedding can help, as well. Keeping close contact with her to a minimum would probably be a good idea until she is seen, as hard as that is with 12 week old kittens! once you have had her seen by your veterinarian, they will be able to give you more information as to what might be going on, and get any medications needed. I hope that all goes well for her!

Aug. 4, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Pepe

dog-breed-icon

Simease mix

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Itching
Lesion
Over Grooming

We adopted pepe when he was 6 months old. After a few months we noticed him over grooming quite abit. We took him to the vet and was told it was food allergies or flea allergy thus started the endless line of vets telling us the same and the treatment was always the same, revolution for any possible flea bites even thought he does not have any and hypoallergenic food of various proteins and steroids either pill form or a shot. The steroid shot managed to take the symptoms away but very temporarily and the pill only worked in high doses. We recently took him to yet another vet and after the usual food allergy diagnosis, the vet dove into some other reasons first being mites. skin scraping were done that yielded negative results but the vet told us certain mites can be very difficult to find due to cats being excellent groomers. The vet prescribed bravecto, a topical flea and tick killer that also has a unlabeled effects on mites we gave him the drops and noticed three days after his itching amplified majorly which from what we read online is possibly a good sign that it may very well be mites. Due to lack of information on this treatment and rarity of this condition in cats (demodex gatoi) and cant seem to find any sort of timeline to know exactly how long before improvement start to show if it is indeed mites. I will update when more time passes just wondering if anyone has experiences with bravecto used as a mite treatment or demodex gatoi.

dog-name-icon

Kitty

dog-breed-icon

Calico

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Small Scabs

So I just recently discovered a few scabs around my cats neck and head and they’re very small but now I’ve found like the 5-6th one in the past 2 weeks. There hasn’t been any change in her diet or living area I’m curious what could be the cause she eats and uses the litter so I’m a little confused and I’m also concerned if I should let her sleep in my bed as well anything should help

dog-name-icon

Sofia

dog-breed-icon

MaineCoon

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Scale Crust
Irritation
Black Balls

My cat Sofie has been having this very recently. Luckily, it's only some crustyness but i am really thinking that she might have mites. ever since she got it she's been sleeping in my room and my heads been getting REALLY itchy. But I bet that as soon as I peel all of that off (she loves it! :D) she'll stop being itchy(so will I) and she'll go back to being my happy little kitty!

dog-name-icon

Lilly

dog-breed-icon

Unknown

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Itching, Scratching,

Our cat developed milliary dermititis and we found it was a food allergy. We immediately put her on an expensive prescription hypoallergenic food and it went away. I was wondering if there is a specific ingredient that I need to look for that may be causing the issue when searching for a cheaper aternate food. Any help is greatly aappreciated and we look forward to hearing from anyone that may be able to help.

dog-name-icon

Bella

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling, Dandruff, Itching

My female cat, Bella, has a condition I can't pinpoint. She has dandruff first, then swelling on one side of the face, followed by swelling in one paw (after the face swelling subsides) and then finally the military dermatitis blows up and she has crusty spots develop that she licks and chews until they bleed and the hair is gone. Ultimately I get her a shot at the vets (steroid) and the symptoms completely subside...for 6 weeks to the day. she's been combed for fleas and that never is it (she is an indoor cat too) and I have tried changing food to see if I notice any change after that... but I'm at a loss. I don't want to continue the shots and damage organs or throw her into diabetes. But we want to help her relieve these issues because she seems so uncomfortable from them! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Feline Miliary Dermatitis Average Cost

From 344 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$500

Protect yourself and your pet. Compare top pet insurance plans.

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
advertisement image
Need pet insurance?