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What is Scaly Skin?

Treating scaly skin is not just about finding out the underlying cause, but also alleviating itchiness associated with the condition to help make your cat comfortable.

Cats may have scaly skin for a number of reasons, some of which are minor, such as dry skin. Scaly skin often looks like dandruff, but can also consist of larger flakes that can be seen through your cat’s hair. If you notice your cat excessively licking or scratching certain areas of his body, check to see if you spot any signs of scaly skin.

Scaly Skin Average Cost

From 558 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Scaly Skin in Cats

Cat owners are often unaware of their cat’s skin problems because cats tend to groom themselves on a regular basis, so excessive licking may not seem unusual. But, it’s important for cat owners to make an effort to look for scaly skin symptoms, including:

  • Small or large flakes of skin
  • Itchiness
  • Hair loss 
  • Thinning hair
  • Red, irritated skin
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Causes of Scaly Skin in Cats

Scaly skin is a sign of an underlying health condition. Although it can be caused by something as minor as dry skin, there are other more serious health conditions that could be affecting your cat. Some of these causes include:

  • Cheyletiella mange, caused by mites
  • Demodectic mange
  • Allergies, especially flea allergies
  • Ringworm
  • Seborrhea, or an excessive production of sebum
  • Sunburn
  • Yeast infections on the skin
  • Autoimmune disorders
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Diagnosis of Scaly Skin in Cats

A vet will be able to spot scaly skin through a simple physical examination of the cat’s hair and skin, however in order to treat it, the underlying cause must be diagnosed. Be sure to give your vet detailed information on when the symptoms began, and what behaviors your cat has exhibited. If your cat has been diagnosed with any other health conditions in the past, be sure to bring this to your vet’s attention as well. Because scaly skin can be caused by allergies, tell your vet if you have recently changed your cat’s diet or exposed him to any potential allergens.

First, a vet may perform a complete blood count test and urinalysis to get a better picture of the cat’s overall health. Blood tests can also show if there is a serious cause of the scaly skin, such as an autoimmune disorder.

Skin scrapings, which test for fungus or bacteria on the skin, are usually done. The specimen will be examined under a microscope to determine if the scaly skin is caused by a fungal or bacterial infection or mites. A small sample of hair may also be taken and examined under a microscope to determine if there are excessive amounts of sebum on the hair follicle. 

A vet may also do a thorough physical examination to check you cat for fleas. Scaly skin can often be a sign of an allergic reaction to fleas, so if any are found, this could be the cause.

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Treatment of Scaly Skin in Cats

Once a diagnosis has been made, the vet will discuss treatment options with you. If the cause is related to fleas, ringworm or mites, medication will be applied to the cat’s skin to combat the pests. The vet may also prescribe steroids or antihistamines to help alleviate the cat’s itchiness and skin inflammation. 

Cats will be prescribed antifungal or antibiotics if the cause is a yeast or bacterial infection. These are usually given orally, however some on-the-spot treatments may be required, depending on the condition of your cat’s skin.

Seborrhea is treated with special shampoos designed to control the production of sebum. Your vet may wash your cat in the office for you, and then ask you to continue using the shampoo at home. 

If the vet believes your cat has scaly skin because of an allergy, he may suggest allergy testing to determine what your cat is allergic to. Once you find out, you will need to reduce or eliminate your cat’s exposure to the allergen to help your cat heal and prevent further issues.

To treat autoimmune disorders, your vet will prescribe medication that suppresses the immune system and allows your cat’s body to recover. If the cause of the scaly skin is cancer, which is rare, your cat may need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

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Recovery of Scaly Skin in Cats

Recovery will depend on the cause of the scaly skin. If the scaly skin was caused by fleas or mites, you will need to administer medication to your cat on a monthly basis to prevent the issue from recurring. 

Bacterial and fungal infections will usually clear up after you have given your cat the full course of medication. To prevent these infections from coming back, your vet may recommend you use special shampoos to keep your cat’s skin clear and healthy.

Scaly skin caused by allergies will usually clear up once the cat is no longer exposed to the allergen. However, if it’s impossible to completely eliminate the allergen from your home, talk to your vet about whether you can use antihistamines to treat allergic reactions.

Regardless of the cause, be sure to speak with your vet about an appropriate bathing schedule. Bathing your cat regularly is important to protect his skin, but if you do it excessively, it could dry the skin out and cause irritation.

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Scaly Skin Average Cost

From 558 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Scaly Skin Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Feline

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3 months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Scaly Skin

she's got dry skin and when it comes off so does her hair what does this mean

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That picture looks very suspiciously like ringworm, although it is difficult to say without actually seeing her. It would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian, as they can give her medication to help make her skin and hair healthy again. I hope that all goes well for her!

Oct. 5, 2020

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Schnauzer

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness In Fur Around Eyes.

Red fur under eyes, caking in corner of eyes.

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. What you describe may be an infection, or a dry eye problem, or irritation. If it is not getting better, it would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian, as they can look at your dog, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

Oct. 5, 2020

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Tabby

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2yrs

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Sore Ears

My cat foxy is 2yrs old. He has never had issues with his health. But with in the past few weeks his ears are getting sores on them and lightly bleeding in a few spots. They have this flaky look to them. I don't have the money right now to take him to the vet. I don't qualify for care credit and with covid I'm out of work. Can you help me figure out what it is and weather I can treat it over the counter

Aug. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello I'm sorry that your cat is having skin issues. He may have an ear infection or some type of skin allergy. Unfortunately without actually seeing your pet I am unable to diagnose his problem and direct you on how to treat him. If possible, it is recommended that you take him to a veterinarian for an exam. There may be low cost clinics in your area that can help like a Humane Society or Thrive Veterinary Care. Good luck.

Aug. 27, 2020

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Tabby

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Thirteen Weeks

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hairless Patch With Scaby/ Scaly Skin.

I want to know what may be causing her tail to do this

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Hello, there are many reasons that her tail may be doing this. This may be ringworm causing this. It would be best to see your vet. They can start your cat on medication to treat the hair loss.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Domestic short hair

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4months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Thick (Hide-Like) Skin

My kitten has been overly scratching the back of her neck. This is resulting in open sores and hair loss and the spots are getting bigger. I've notice dry thick skin around other parts of her right shoulder and neck, almost like giant veins that she keeps scratching at. The shelter told me it was a reaction to he microchip and they gave her a shot. That was 4 days ago and the scratching has gotten worse.

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello Thank you for the picture. That wound looks concerning. It appears open and infected. I strongly recommend that you take her to a veterinarian for an exam. They may want to give her some pain medication and clean the wound. She may need antibiotics as well. Good luck.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Stray cat

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Domestic shorthair

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Itching
Crusty Patches And Balding

Hi. There is a stray cat that lives in my neighborhood that tried to adopt himself to my home several months ago. After shooing him away several times I didn’t see him anymore, until the other day. Now the cat is merely a shadow of what he used to be. Skin and bones, thinning hair, bald patches with sores, and white crust covering his head. Well, feeling so sad for him I Started feeding him. I am very concerned for my own two cats though, by not knowing what is wrong with him. My cats are indoor and outdoor and this stray has been hanging around my front door. I’m not sure what to do to fix this cat since I can not afford to take it to my vet. And I don’t want to call the pound because I’m afraid they’ll just put him down. Any suggestions on what I can do will be greatly appreciated.

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Puppycat

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tabby

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5 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Extremely Dry Skin
Hard Or Tough Skin
Can'T See Eyes
Possible Swollen Tongue

I have rescued a light ginger adult male tabby with severely dry, leathery skin on his head and a little bit of his scruff and neck area. I literally cry every time I touch him; his skin is so hard I can't pet him normally. His tongue looks unusually large, as though it's swollen. Also, I can't see his eyes. He eats well and also drinks a lot of water. He seems to like when I put diatomaceous earth on his head, which is unusual to me because none of my other cats have ever liked it when I've put it on them. Can someone give me an idea of what this is and what I can do to alleviate the condition? I had to guess his age because I couldn't submit this otherwise.

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Loki

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Maine Coon

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10 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

My cat has been to multiple vets. He is 10 mos old. He is constantly grooming himself. He has practically lost all of his fur, he looks like he has mange or mites bc of the black flakiness everywhere on his body especially his chest and arms. We have tested for everything, fungi, bacteria, parasites, allergies. All have come back negative. Have even checked his organs and they are all healthy. But he looks like he has been living on the street with no nutrition even though he eats perfectly fine and we have him on a science diet to rule out food allergy. The two vets I have gone to have no clue what’s wrong with him but he will not stop itching and he has multiple sores from hotspots. I have to put him in a cone but I know he is constantly itching so I feel like it’s cruel but he will make himself bleed. I just want it to go away and it’s been going on for 3 months with no results. Can anyone help???

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Leo

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Persian

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14 Weeks

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Scale Crust Itching

My cat of 14 recently had started to get a crusty white skin on his ears. He’s been scratching most of it off but since he doesn’t have a back leg he can’t reach his other ear but he’s very itchy on both ears. I tried showering him but in a day or two it comes back, what can I do?

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lily

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Maine coone mix

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

i have an adorable 2 year or so old black penguin cat , ive never noticed anything wrong with him , until now , and the top of his tail is covered , for about 2 inches , in scaly red skin , it seems to be caked and it seems to have been there for a while , i pet him all the time , im terrified it might be ringworm , but feel like it might just be casual dermatitis or stud tail , any thoughts ???? vet is a bit expensive right now too , im thinking about getting an antifungal cream just in case

Scaly Skin Average Cost

From 558 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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