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Dr Scott Nimmo
Dr Scott Nimmo, Small Animal Veterinarian.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20736
Experience:  BVMS, MRCVS. { Glasgow UK }
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My cat has developed a scabby, bumpy rash on his back. It

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My cat has developed a scabby, bumpy rash on his back. It started mainly above his tail but is now half way up his back on top along the vertebrae. It gets scabs (at least I think they're scabs) that I can scratch off without hurting him but it never goes away. What could it be?
Thanks for the questionCustomer

In direct answer to your question : While I cannot diagnose this over the internet it sounds like your cat has a disease called miliary eczema. The distribution of the skin lesions in miliary eczema are usually precisely as you describe.

The origin of this disease is almost certainly flea bites, owners will sometimes dispute this as they say they have not seen fleas but as it is a hypersensitivity reaction only one or two bites would cause the clinical signs you are seeing. Not all cat will get this disease following flea bites, only a few which are hypersensitive to fleas will develop the disease. It is therefor important to be absolutely fastidious not only with flea control on your cat but also the cat's environment. Although clearly fleas may be implicated as a trigger factor flea control alone will not cure this disease, more is required ...

Different vets have slightly different ways of thinking about things when it comes to treating this disease. There are two main treatments for miliary eczema both have their pros and cons. Ovarid and drugs like it are hormone preparations which are a perfectly valid treatment for treating miliary eczema but a very small number of cats end up as diabetics as a result of this drug. Steroids and antihistamines are also a valid treatment for this disease but again a very small number of cats end up with both acute and chronic side effects to steroids. Antibiotics may be used in the early stages as these cats often have a secondary bacterial infection.

I am so sorry I cannot recommend any home remedy here, because of the nature of the disease there is nothing much you can do on your own. Accordingly my advice has to be that you should have your vet check your cat over as soon as is practicable.

If I have not answered your question fully enough or if you would like to ask more I will be on line for the next hour or so and I will be pleased to discuss your question further.

Scott Nimmo BVMS MRCVS
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Considering that this rash has gone away on its own in previous years, is it possible that it will go away again? hopefully without steroids or other dangerous medicines. What about just symptomatic relief? In all reality, my cat is an indoor cat and has not been to a vet since he was neutered before I adopted him. He's always been healthy and I really don't think there are fleas in my house since they have not bitten me. Could anything else cause this type of rash?
Hello again,

1. This disease can come and go as trigger factor like fleas will be present in late summer but killed of in the winter. So yes it may go away again but come back next year.

2. Other trigger factors could be flying insects such as mosquitoes present in the summer or pollen or house dust. Difficult to pin it down but it will be an allergy of some kind.

3. There is little you can do here for symptomatic relief on a home remedy basis, sorry ...


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Other than having this bumpy rash on his back, is it terribly detrimental to his health if it is not treated? I would like to take him to a vet but if it is going to come back every year, I wonder if it is really necessary. Do you think he is suffering in any way?
Hello again,

1. If the diagnosis turns out to be miliary eczema then it is not detrimental to your cat in any way if not treated other than the visible skin lesions.

2. I guess the answer to this is easy : If the cat has an irritated skin and it is bothering him then he is suffering to some degree. Is he leaves his skin alone and it does not bother him then he is not suffering.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.

"If it turns out to be miliary eczema" sounds like it's possibly something else. Obviously you think it is probably this, but do you have any thoughts about what else it could possibly be? I promise, I'll stop asking questions after this. I just want to do some research.

Hello again,

Please ask as much as you like, glad to talk things over with you ...

My thinking is as follows : As this returns each year at the same time then it is likely to be a seasonal allergy of some kind such as miliary eczema. If it is a seasonal allergy other than miliary eczema then broadly the treatment would be the same anyway.

However other diagnosis are possible such as bacterial dermatitis of immune related disorders but these would very rarely be seasonal.


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