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Dr Pete
Dr Pete, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
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Experience:  Bachelor of Veterinary Science University of Melbourne
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My Cat is losing hair and has like a scab like bumps on his

Customer Question

My Cat is losing hair and has like a scab like bumps on his skin on the sides of his neck and above his butt where his tail is... Anything I can do to help him?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr Pete replied 8 years ago.

Hi John

This is almost certainly a very common problem in cats called miliary dermatitis. The causes can be complex but there are two main parts to it. Allergy and overgrooming.

Often the allergy is the main part and certainly fleas feature high as a cause of the allergy. Because your cat has the sores over the top of the tail I would be very suspicious of fleas being involved. This is a classic site for that. Make sure you control fleas well, preferably using one of the very effective and safe topical applications (Advantage, Frontline, Revolution). In addition keep the bedding clean and thoroughly vacuum areas that the cat frequents to clear environmental stages of the flea. It only takes one flea to trigger the reaction in an allergic cat. The allergy can be to other environmental factors and these can be harder to control....dust mites, pollens, etc.

Now the overgrooming component can be a secondary cause or it can occur on its own. The cat's tongue is very rough and can easily damage the skin. Overgrooming can occur if the cat is a bit itchy but also as a response to anxiety. If there are already small hives on the skin from an allergy, the overgrooming quickly scrapes the surface of these hives and produces the multiple little sores or scabs. But overgrooming can occur on its own as a cause often related to things that the cat sees as a worry. This can be new cats in the neighbourhood, changes in the home, a new pet in the household or noisy builders next door. Cats are very sensitive to change and quite astute. The cause can be quite subtle from our point of view.

So how do we treat the condition? If you control fleas and I suspect that may be the issue that will clear the rash alone. Otherwise a small dose of cortisone quickly fixes the problem. Obviously you will need to see your vet for this. However if the cause persists the rash may return. It can be a seasonal problem. Nowhere near as effective as cortisone but available over the counter from your pharmacy is the anti-histamine !-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:SimSun; panose-1:2 1 6 0 3 1 1 1 1 1; mso-font-alt:??; mso-font-charset:134; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3NNN-NN-NNNN22 0 262145 0;} @font-face {font-family:"\@SimSun"; panose-1:2 1 6 0 3 1 1 1 1 1; mso-font-charset:134; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3NNN-NN-NNNN22 0 262145 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0cm; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:SimSun;} @page Section1 {size:612.0pt 792.0pt; margin:72.0pt 90.0pt 72.0pt 90.0pt; mso-header-margin:36.0pt; mso-footer-margin:36.0pt; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> Benadryl Allergy (diphenhydramine)

Ensure it is not the combination product (Benadryl Allergy and Sinus). Dose him at 1 mg/lb and this may provide some relief.


If anxiety is more involved than allergy then tackling the reason for that anxiety can be difficult, often out of our control. But anti-anxiety medication can be very effective. Your vet can help out with this too. I generally use Clomicalm with good effect. It is only registered for use in dogs in the US (if that’s where you are) but only due to licensing issues. Most vets will use it in cats too.

So you need flea control first and then if necessary a visit to your vet should see this rash clear quickly.

I hope I've helped here.

Regards, Peter