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What are Sebaceous Cysts?

If your cat is bothered by their sebaceous cyst, or if it has become large, is oozing, or is at risk of rupturing, you should seek veterinary assistance for your cat. You should never attempt to treat your cat’s sebaceous cyst on your own as this can cause potentially harmful inflammatory responses in the surrounding tissues.

Sebaceous cysts can appear anywhere on the body of your cat, but most often occur on their trunk (chest and sides) or legs. These fluid-filled sacs are typically benign, meaning they are not cancerous, and do not cause much physical discomfort to your cat. Sebaceous cysts appear as raised bumps and are soft in feel. In some cases, sebaceous cysts can continue to grow until they rupture. When this occurs, infection may occur and your cat will need additional treatment. 

Sebaceous Cysts Average Cost

From 453 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Sebaceous Cysts in Cats

Sebaceous cysts may begin as small, raised portions of your cat’s skin. These bumps may be difficult to spot in early stages since your cat’s dense fur can mask their appearance. As they grow, cysts become more apparent and additional signs may appear. Symptoms of sebaceous cysts may include:

  • Raised, fluid-filled bumps on your cat’s skin
  • Oozing or ruptured bumps
  • Excessive scratching or itching of the area
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Causes of Sebaceous Cysts in Cats

Sebaceous cysts in your cat are benign, harmless, and noncancerous fluid-filled sacs. These sacs occur when a hair follicle becomes damaged or clogged in your cat’s skin. When this happens, your cat’s immune system causes the surrounding tissues to wall off the damage, creating a small pocket that slowly fills with a yellowish substance called keratin, a substance commonly found in nails and fur. The sac becomes increasingly full of fluid over time. In some cats, the filling of the sac causes the cyst to stop growing. In other animals, the cyst will continue to grow until it ruptures and fluid leaks out. 

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Diagnosis of Sebaceous Cysts in Cats

Diagnosis of sebaceous cysts in your cat will include a thorough physical exam in your vet’s office. Your veterinarian will go over your cat’s skin in a meticulous manner, checking approximate size and location of any bumps or raised portions of the skin. Sebaceous cysts often occur in multiples, and the size and number will help your vet determine the appropriate treatment method. You should provide your vet with an approximate timeline of the appearance of the cysts, along with any noticeable changes or growth. This will also help determine how aggressive the treatment should be for your pet’s cyst.

Because sebaceous cysts have a similar appearance to some cancer growths, your vet will want to perform a biopsy of your cat’s cyst to confirm it is benign and not a more serious condition. This will typically be done using a procedure called a fine needle aspiration and biopsy. For this procedure, your cat will not need to be sedated. Your vet will insert a sterile needle into your cat’s cyst and will collect a small amount of fluid and tissue to be sent to a lab. Your vet will do this individually with each cyst.

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Treatment of Sebaceous Cysts in Cats

Treatment of sebaceous cysts can take several forms, from conservative to aggressive management. In many cats, sebaceous cysts will not affect your pet and there will be no discomfort or interference with their daily lives. In these cases, where the cysts have remained the same size, your vet may advise to leave the cyst intact and in place as long as it is not bothersome to your cat. This is especially true for animals that are unfriendly and difficult to manage in a vet’s office or that may have complicating health conditions that make them poor candidates for surgical treatments.

In cases which the biopsy of the cyst has come back with no indication of cancerous cells, your vet may choose to drain the cyst. This is typically done by placing a needle in the cyst and withdrawing the fluid. This does not hurt your pet and does not require sedation. In cases which the fluid is too dense, your vet may need to lance the cyst. This will require your cat be given an anesthetic that affects the localized area of the cyst only. Your vet will then use a sharp blade to cut a small incision into the skin, allowing the contents of the cyst to drain. Stitches are not used to give the cyst the best opportunity to continue to express the fluid.

In some cases, cysts may continue to recur and grow. These cysts will require more complicated surgery in order to completely remove the follicle and the cyst wall. Here your cat will need to undergo full anesthesia and stitches will be used to pull the skin together over the missing area that has been excised.

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Recovery of Sebaceous Cysts in Cats

Your cat has an excellent prognosis of recovery from removal or draining of sebaceous cysts. While surgical follow-up will sometimes be needed, draining or other removal will not affect the long-term health or lifespan of your pet. You should work with your vet to discuss preventative measures for cysts such as supplementation with salmon or other healthy oils and regular brushing to support follicle health.

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Sebaceous Cysts Average Cost

From 453 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$500

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Sebaceous Cysts Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Unknown-new kitten we found

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4 weeks

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

She Has A Fluid Filled Cyst That Ruptured And Now It Is An Open Wound

She is healthy and nursing but the wound is open and red...not bleeding but been putting Neosporin on it. Will she survive? What is a at home remedy?

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without seeing the kitten, there isn't a way that I can comment on whether she will survive or be okay. I don't know what caused the cyst, and it may be infected. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine the kitten, see what might be causing the problem, and get treatment for her. I hope that she is okay.

July 28, 2020

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Miggy

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Domestic cat

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lump
Lump On His Stomach
Hole In The Stomach

Miggy is my rescued cat. Then he went outside our home until two days. He came home having a hard time to walk and a lump in his stomach. I thought it was just because he fought with another cat. Until, the lump in his stomach became a blood lump. And right now, My cat has a hole in his stomach looks very deep, but doesnt has blood on it. He still eats food and drinks water.

Sept. 23, 2018

Miggy's Owner

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Heath

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Black Tabby

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5 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Unsure

Hi my cat recently disappeared for 5 days. He is an indoor cat who has only justvrecently been venturing out due to moving to another home 3 months ago. He returned and seems fine but I noticed he has hair missing the size of a pea on the top of his head and now there is a with soft lump there. I can’t get close to it to properly examine. What do you suggest.

Aug. 16, 2018

Heath's Owner

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0 Recommendations

If you’re unable to get near the lump to examine it, you should keep a close eye as best you can; but if it gets larger, there is more hair loss, discharge appears or anything else concerning visit your Veterinarian for a close up examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 17, 2018

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Marbles

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Main Coon

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7 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Oozing
Open Cyst

Our cat has/had a sebaceous cyst that popped two weeks ago. We took him to the vet the next day and they said it would heal nicely. They put him on oral antibiotics for two weeks to be safe. We are nearing the end of the antibiotic treatment with only one day left. However, the cyst is still open. Leaks puss/keratin every day. He doesn’t lick it or bother it at all. We’ve been wiping it clean and keeping his hair out of it. At what point do we need to return to the vet? Shouldn’t it have healed and closed up by now? What’s the usual time frame on these cysts healing after being popped? Should we just continue to give him the oral antibiotics until it closes or we run out of it? We have half a bottle still left. Thank you!

July 30, 2018

Marbles' Owner

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0 Recommendations

Sebaceous cysts heal at different rates, some seem to resolve quickly especially when handled nicely whilst other may persist and require surgical excision; you shouldn’t give any more antibiotic without consulting your Veterinarian as they were the prescribing Veterinarian, a simple phone call to the surgery to explain what is happening may be enough for them to make a decision in absentia. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 30, 2018

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Bob

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American Shorthair

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Alopecia

My cat had a fight with other cats before and his hair near the neck cannot grow anymore. My vet told me that the hair follicle is dead and his hair will not be grown. Is there a way that I can make his hair grow again?

July 18, 2018

Bob's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

If the hair follicle is scarred or dead, there is not way for hair to regrow in that area again, no. The area may get smaller over time and other hair may grow in, but that skin won't grow hair if that has happened.

July 18, 2018

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MJ

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Cat

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Itchy

hi, my cat recently, like just last night grew a bump on her head like on her nose and right above almost between her eyes, it hurts when it’s touched, and it seems to be filled with fluid, the only thing i’ve noticed her do is lightly rub it with her paw. but she seems moody, like it may be hurting her. i don’t know what to do, i don’t necessarily have the money to go to a vet :(

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Sox

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domestic short hair

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15 Years

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Moderate severity

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Large Bloody Lump, Bleeding

Our 15-year-old Maine Coon has a sebaceous cyst on her bottom lip that is about the size of a dime in diameter. The vet's test confirmed it wasn't cancerous, but he said her weak heart makes surgery to remove it too dangerous. It's heartbreaking to see her with this lump that bleeds fairly frequently. It doesn't affect her too much although she often tries to scratch it off. I wish there was something I could do to reduce it or make it less bothersome to her. I plan to take her back to the vet soon to see if there is something more I should do to help with its treatment.

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Kitty kitty

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Male

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Cat

I have a male cat that came in my yard as a baby so I keep him and he out outside cat well there other cat around and they fight so the cat jump on my cat and bite his foot now there a lump under my cat upper leg it’s just a limp nothing coming out of it he can’t put pressure on it at all he still eating and drinking I don’t know what to do can someone tell what this is

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Misty

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tabby

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

I have a 2 year old tabby which was kitten when someone left her,so we started feeding and taking care of and took her to have her fixed so she couldn't reproduce and about six weeks later I noticed a little bit so we were told to watch it,so within a few months it began to grow and it burst we took to emergency vet and they removed leaving 32 stitches. The stitches were removed two weeks ago and I was petting her today and now there's already another one in same area where stitches were and about 9 more. It cost us 850 we didn't have, but we love her an so much and so we talk to our little small children because it was there Christmas,whom are still very small age 4 and 5 and they choose to save cat and have no Christmas, now it looks like we won't have either. We are all so devastated not to mention can't afford to take back to vet again and children won't have Xmas or cat for long. What could have caused. Please help explain.

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Shadow

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Domestic long-haired cat

dog-age-icon

16 Years

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

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Slowly Growing Bump

My 16, almost 17, year old cat has a lump that is growing quite slowly in size right above his lip (above the opening of his mouth). It still has short hairs on it but has what seems to be lighter pink under hair, it has recently developed a darker dot at the point of it and it’s is semi-hard. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all but I’m still concerned it could be harmful to him.

Sebaceous Cysts Average Cost

From 453 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$500

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