How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr.Fiona Your Own Question
Dr.Fiona, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
Type Your Cat Question Here...
Dr.Fiona is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My cat Pumpkin has had a skin problem for a few years now.

This answer was rated:

Again, I would like to wait for Dr. Fiona please throughout this question. Thank you. I sent her photos of my cat's skin.

My cat Pumpkin has had a skin problem for a few years now. He has what looks like the chicken pox or something similar and he itches terribly and bites off his hair.

He has never had any problems like this before; I have had him since he was a kitten and he is now 14 years of age.

I have brought him to the vet and they put him on antibiotics, steroids, and Revolution. He got an awful cold and he skin looked a little better for a few days.

He has been giving baths, treated with topical flea treatments such as advantage, frontline of which I think he gets lesions/scabs even worse after the application and it kept up on at least every 4 weeks if not sooner. I have used Capstar on him.

The vet thought it was fleas, I do not ever see any fleas on him. I vacuum often and I wash all of the cats' bedding, and ours and mop the floors with bleach and thoroughly vacuum ~ every 10 days.

I have treated the yard with nematodes, and Diatomaceous Earth, over and over and even put the food grade DE on him.

I have changed his food out as well thinking it could be food allergies of which I don't think it is either.

I have pictures of his skin of which has been so sensitive and I am hoping that you can tell what his condition may be by looking at them.

Does he need a sulfur bath?

I have mentioned this to the vet before as well. And it may be coincidence; yet he did not start this skin condition until he had another microchip implanted a few years ago. I wish I had never had it done. I made the mistake of this when the rescue that chipped him did not recognize his Trovan chip that he had implanted when he was a kitten. The newer chip is a 24petwatch chip. I have had him scanned with a multi universal scanner and his trovan chip is recognized on this scanner yet his 24petwatch is only recognized on her scanner. Had her scanner picked up all brands of which I am now learning all about; I wouldn't have had him double chipped. It may all be a coincidence, yet I am led to believe that this could have triggered a reaction with him. Please let me know your thoughts on this.

I have other cats and they have no such problem.
I have also used benadryl and chlorpheniramine tabs to no avail to help relieve his symptoms to avail.

Thank you.
Please let me know about sending you some pictures of his skin.
I have also put some cortisone steroid salve on him to see if this helps, so his skin looks oily.
Hi there!

Welcome to Just Answer!

I'm sorry for the delay - at the time you posted your question, I was running out the door to pick up my children from their evening activities. Thank you for waiting for me!

I would like to ask a few questions in order to better understand what might be going on with Pumpkin.

1. Is Pumpkin indoors only or does he go outside?

2. Are there any other pets in the home, and are they indoors only or do they go outside?

3. Is there a time of year when Pumpkin's skin is better/worse, or is it the same year-round?

4. What kind of steroids was he given? Was it an injection, pills or a cream?

I would love to see some photos of Pumpkin's skin. That would be really helpful!

You can post a photo or file on this thread if you have a toolbar.

You will have a toolbar with certain browsers (Mozilla Firefox, Explorer) and not with others (Chrome, Safari).

So, if you have a toolbar, then here is now to post them:

You need to post your files on your question page, so the expert can see them. On your question page, there is a tool bar above the reply box at the bottom of the page. If the tool bar is not showing, click "show tool bar". Once you have the tool bar showing, here are the instructions for posting your files:

For graphics, click the tree icon and then browse to choose a GIF, PNG, or JPG. Upload and then insert it.

For zip files, PDFs, or spreadsheets, you need to use the link tool. Enter text (like "download this") in the reply box and then double-click to highlight it. The link is the tool to the left of the tree. In the upper right corner is a browse dialog box, which you can use to locate your file. Select it and then insert the link. Use the Preview button if you want to test the link and see if it works correctly.

File size is limited to 1 MB.

For files bigger than 1MB, go to a free file hosting website such as (,, and click on the Upload button. Then navigate to your file and select it, and click the Start Upload button. When the uploading has completed you will be given a link to download the file. Copy the link and paste it in your question, and the Experts will be able to click on the link to download the file.

If you do not have a toolbar, then you can email your files to [email protected] and the moderators will forward them to the expert. Make sure you send from the email address that you used to register for the site, and make sure you mention who the files are for!

Hope that works for you! Fiona

Customer: replied 6 years ago.


1. Pumpkin has access to the outdoor patio.

2. Yes, I have other pets that are indoor/outdoor. They all get same flea treatments as mentioned above.

3.About the same year round.

4. Pills, Prednisolone, 5 mg, 1 tab twice daily for 5 days , 1 tab once daily for 5 days and .5 tab once for for 5 days.

I have sent photos to [email protected] and it was rejected because the file was too big. I ended up sending 3 separate emails with 2 photos each, total of 6, ending in #'s, 55, 56, 57, 59, 60, and 61 of Pumpkin's skin. Please let me know if you received all of them and if you need me to send more.

Thank you Dr. Fiona.


It is 10:30pm now for me here in Ontario and I am logging off for the night. I will let you know when I receive the photos. I am sure they will be helpful! It might not be until tomorrow afternoon, but I will let you know when they come through.

Thank you for your continued patience!

Hi there,
The photos have not arrived yet... but I will keep looking! I am working at the animal hospital this morning, but will be back in about 8 hours and will check then to see if the photos are in.

bye for now,
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi, I just received a message that the question closes in 24 hours and I haven't heard back from you since the message above. I have learned that I can attach a photo using the tree image icon. I would like to know if you received the 6 photos I sent with attention to you. Thank you. I would like to attach at least 2 photos at least using the tree image icon. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
If you could attach photos that would be GREAT! I have been waiting for the photos to come through via email... but so far they have not.

It is after my bedtime here in Ontario, so I am going to have to sign off for the night, but I do hope that you are able to attach the photos.

If not, perhaps you could use a photosharing website like photobucket?

I hope I will be able to help you tomorrow with this! Don't worry about the question closing. We will still be able to communicate!

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Attachments are only available to registered users.

Register Here
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Attachments are only available to registered users.

Register Here
Thanks for the photos!

From what I can see, there are small, random scabbed areas on the skin.

Please could you tell me:

1. Where on Pumpkin's body are these scabs? Is there one area where he has more of them (eg over his hips, under his neck, on his belly)?

2. How big are the scabs?

3. Is he very itchy? Do you see him scratching or chewing at these areas?

4. Does he have any lesions/scabs on his feet, or between his foot pads?

5. Does he have any scabs on his neck, throat area, or head?

6. Is he still on flea control? Are *all* the pets in the home on flea control, all at the same time?

7. When was the second micro-chip placed?

If you have more photos and can attach those as well, that would be great!

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Attachments are only available to registered users.

Register Here

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Attachments are only available to registered users.

Register Here
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

1. The area where pumpkin has more of these scabs that you see in the picture is on his back and they go from his tail (the tail part next to his bottom) to about where his front legs are as a marker yet, they are on his back. He has had a few under his neck, yet none are there presently. He has small red dots are his belly, about the size a large period dot. I will send you a picture of his belly; I still need to take some and send them to you, most likely tonight. The pictures I have are of his back and that is where he has these scabs. It is an area of 2- 3 inches wide and they look like a line somewhat and are from the bottom of his tail to just past the middle of his back toward his neck.


2. The scabs on his back, the ones that are in the photos are about the size of the smiley face icon in the tool box above this box.


3. Yes, he is very itchy; miserable. That is why I am asking for your help. His skin is very sensitive. Yes, I see him chewing/licking/biting his hair off of his back.


4. No, he doesn't have any lesions or scabs on his feet or between his foot pads.


5. He doesn't really have any scabs on his throat, neck, or head.


6. Yes, he is still on flea control and all of the pets are always treated at the same time. As mentioned above, I have used just about everything for fleas and maintain the house and yard regularly. They have been on advantage topical flea treatment currently and sometimes, I apply it every 3 weeks rather than the 4 and it has been kept up on. And as I have said he seems to get worse after the advantage topical flea treatment.


The second microchip was placed ~ in the spring of 2008 and this is when his skin began to have the continuous irritations.

Wow - thanks for all the great photos and the really helpful answers to my questions! :-)

What you are describing sounds like Miliary Dermatitis.

This is an allergic skin condition in which the itchiness and scabs are typically in the tail head area, and the back legs. The skin is very itchy and the cat chews, licks, and scratches. Kitty may also "ripple" the skin often.

The skin has many small scabs and bumps (just like your photos) - supposedly they look like millet seed which is where the name comes from.

Here are some links to further information about this condition:

Miliary Dermatitis is caused by an underlying allergic condition.

The most common allergy is a flea bite hypersensitivity (flea allergy dermatitis, FAD).

With FAD, all it takes is ONE flea bite to cause this problem. It's kind of the same as how some people are allergic to bee stings. For most of us, a bee sting hurts a bit but isn't really a big deal. For others, however, a single bee sting can make their whole arm swell up or even cause an anaphylactic reaction that can be life -threatening.

In the same way, animals who have FAD get insanely itchy over a single flea bite.

In your situation, Pumpkin may have 1 flea bite a month when he goes outside. This would be enough to make him itchy! So, even though you may not see any fleas on your cat if a single flea hops on, takes a bite and then hops off, this cat could be insanely itchy for weeks!

This is an allergic problem that tends to get worse as the animal ages. Although I have not read any reports of it being triggered by placement of a microchip, if that stimulated his immune system it is possible.

Here is more about flea control:

For more information about flea allergy dermatitis, you can check out these links:

Since this may be what has triggered your itchy cat's Miliary Dermatitis, I would strongly agree that you should treat Pumpkin with Advantage or Frontline. In Canada, you can only get Advantage through a veterinarian, but in the USA you can get Frontline at large pet supply stores (Pet'SMart, etc), or even on-line. Frontline is SAFE and effective.

Miliary dermatitis is generally treated with corticosteroids, or in a mild case with antihistamines and essential fatty acids.

You could start Pumpkin on essential fatty acids as they are helpful at decreasing inflammation and improving skin health.

Here's a link to one example:

Antihistamines are much less helpful in cats than they are in humans and will significantly help only 25 to 30 percent of cases. You mentioned that you have tried them with little effect. They are often prescribed since they are relatively safe drugs when compared to corticosteroids. Some cats respond better to one antihistamine than another, so veterinarians usually try two or three different types before giving up on them. I usually start with chlorpheniramine in cats as you mentioned.

Here is more about it:

Another choice would be atarax:

So, in summary, what you are describing sounds like Miliary Dermatitis. This is an allergic skin condition. Often it is due to an underlying sensitivity to a flea bite. However, there may be another cause of the allergic dermatitis.

If Pumpkin remains itchy despite prednisone, I would add in DermCaps, and even consider injections of DepoMedrol. It is a long acting steroid, and somteimes really allergic cats need something that strong to control their symptoms.

Your veterinarian would need to examine Pumpkin in order to be able to prescribe corticosteroids but if you wanted to try something else before seeing the vet, you could treat start him on Derm Caps, and could even consider antihistamines (doses in link above). Unfortunately, the best way to resolve this compeltely and without drugs would be to keep ALL the animals strictly indoors to avoid 100% of flea contact.

I hope that helps!

If this has been helpful, please "Accept" my answer and leave feedback.

If you need more information, just click on reply and I will still be here to provide it!

The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.


Thank you; I appreciate all of the information. I thought you may come back with that. I am wondering though, can one flea cause all of those scabs; that is what I do not understand. And, he is currently on Advantage topical flea treatment as I have mentioned and the scabs and itching become worse after the application. Do you know anything about this? I have used Frontline before as well as mentioned and it seems to do no good. I understand that you may think it is fleas and although I see none on him and he has the skin and fur that show them, I am not saying it is not possible. I am just wondering why he has never had this skin problem before from fleas. Although I have always treated for fleas, I am especially more proactive with flea control since his skin condition than I have been in his previous years. He eats tuna wet cat food daily; do you think he receives the EFA's from this? I will check out the derm caps. I may possibly go the medrol injection route to see if it may help get him through this. Thank you for all of your help.

Yes, just one little flea could cause all those scabs and itchiness! One flea bite could cause problems for weeks to months.

Also, when the skin is inflamed and itchy, then some cats do get more irritated with anything that you apply to the skin, like Advantage. For those patients, I usually have to give some steroids by mouth or injection in order to get the skin soothed enough to stop the scabs and itching.

Flea allergies are something that get worse with age. I never see it in kittens, very rarely in young cats, but much more commonly as they get older.

He would not get the EFA's needed from the tuna cat food, no. The levels would not be high enough, unfortunately.

Depo-medrol by injection is highly effective. If a cat is overweight and is a borderline diabetic, it can push them over the edge into full-blown diabetes, but apart from that concern, it is very well tolerated by cats. If this is a flea allergy and he gets an injection of Depo-Medrol, he should be itch and scab free within a week!

I do hope that little Pumpkin feels more comfortable soon!

Dr.Fiona and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you