The condition of a cat's skin can often reflect the quality of a cat's general health, which is why cat rashes usually need to be investigated further. There are several factors that can cause cat rashes, including infections, allergies, anxiety and an infestation of parasites. After the causes of cat rashes have been identified — typically after a physical examination — the appropriate treatment can be administered by either a veterinary surgeon or the owner of the cat.
There are various types of cat rashes that can often indicate the source of irritation. When a cat has fleas, excessive scratching might be observed, and a loss of fur around the base of the tail might also be evident, as well as inflamed and scaly skin. Collectively, these symptoms are known as feline miliary dermatitis and can result when a cat has been bitten by fleas, because fleas' saliva is known to trigger allergic reactions. Similarly, further inflammation can be caused by excessive scratching. A range of topical treatments is available for treating an infestation of fleas, including shampoos, powders and sprays, but treating cat rashes in this way can also trigger a reaction, so advice should be obtained from a veterinary surgeon.
When it occurs on the paws, head and ears and is accompanied by a loss of fur, inflammation of the skin might indicate that the cat has contracted dermatophytosis — or ringworm, as it is commonly called. As a fungal skin infection, ringworm is contagious to both animals and humans alike, but in many cases, the condition will clear up without treatment. Nevertheless, it is advisable for professional advice to be sought immediately because of the contagious nature of the infection.
Environmental allergies that affect the skin, sometimes known as atopic dermatitis, can result when the cat is sensitive to various types of pollen or grass. Similarly, a cat can also develop allergies to other products within the home, such as deodorants, disinfectants and cigarette smoke. Inflammation and redness around the ears are often associated with this condition, which can be diagnosed after a skin scraping test and by obtaining blood samples.
Feline psychogenic alopecia can result when a cat becomes bored, stressed or anxious. When a cat grooms itself, calming hormones are triggered, so when cats are exposed to stressful or anxious situations, they can become predisposed to excessive grooming, resulting in rashes and a loss of fur. This condition usually is diagnosed after a sample of fur has been analyzed, a skin scraping test has been performed and a blood sample has been analyzed.