What Causes Scabs on Cats and How Do You Treat Them?

When you stroke along your cat’s back and discover scabs it is quite alarming. You will probably wonder why your cat has developed scabs and what you can do about it. Scabs on a cat are more common than you might think, and there are lots of potential causes. It is essential to identify the underlying cause so that you can make sure your cat gets the correct treatment to deal with the problem. Here are some of the most common causes of scabs on a cat and how to treat them.

Miliary Dermatitis

The term military dermatitis is a generic term that is used to describe scabs on a cat’s tail, neck, and back. This term is used to describe the symptoms of scabs and bumps on your cat’s skin, and it is not a diagnosis of what is causing the problem, says Preventative Vet. The bumps and scabs are generally accompanied by severe itchiness and excessive scratching. This may result in your cat pulling out sections of its coat and creating bald patches. Miliary dermatitis is also known as feline acne.


The most common cause of miliary dermatitis is the presence of fleas, says Catster. The flea bites cause the bumps and itchiness, then the cat creates scabs by scratching at the bumps. This is worse if your cat is allergic to fleas. Many cats will simply suffer from a few bumps when they are carrying fleas. Those with an allergy to flea bites get larger bumps that cover more of their bodies and are more likely to produce scabs. In this situation, it is essential to treat your cat for fleas using one of the many products available from pet stores. If these fail to resolve the problem, you should visit the vet.

Mites and Skin Parasites

If there are no fleas present, then a vet will begin to investigate for other causes. Another possible cause of military dermatitis is mites or another form of skin parasite, such as mange. This is something that a vet can identify and test for. This requires different treatment from flea allergy dermatitis. One potential treatment for this is steroids.

Food Allergies

Another cause of your cat getting bumps and scabs on their skin is food allergies. According to Cat World, it is possible for your cat to develop an allergy to a food even if they have been eating it for years. The best way to prevent this is to stop feeding your cat the food that is causing the allergic reaction. This is more complicated than it seems as you must first identify which food or foods are causing the allergic reaction. To find what your cat is allergic to is often a case of trial and error, and this can take patience and perseverance on your part.

Other Allergies

It is not only food that can cause an allergic reaction in your cat. They can suffer from allergies to almost any substance or material with which they come into contact. If the allergen is something that your cat has come into contact with, it is known as contact dermatitis. On the other hand, if the allergen is caused by things in the air, such as pollen or dust mites, it is called inhalant dermatitis. Again, this is a case of trial and error to identify the cause. The first step is to think about any changes you may have made recently, such as changing the cat’s bedding or litter or using a new cleaning product in your home. Switch back to the former products if you think this is the cause. If you have not changed anything, then you need to consider other causes. Think about when the cat develops the bumps and scabs as this can possibly help to identify the cause.

Skin Disorders

There are also some skin disorders that can cause military dermatitis. A common skin disorder that causes scabs on a cat’s skin is ringworm. This is a fungal infection that can affect the skin, fur, and nails. It is more common in areas of the skin that are warm and moist. If the cause of the problem is ringworm, then the lesions are circular and they are often larger than the bumps and scabs formed by other causes of military dermatitis.

Pemphigus Complex

Rarely, bumps and scabs are caused by pemphigus complex. This is a group of rare bullous autoimmune disorders. They cause and this causes an overactive immune response which results in an overproduction of autoantibodies. These then attack the epidermal bonding molecules which cause blisters and scabs on your cat’s skin. There are three types of this disease, and each affects a different layer of the skin.

Treatment of Skin Scabs

In most cases, the cause of skin scabs is fleas, so giving your cat flea treatment is the first thing to try. If this doesn’t resolve the problem or if the scabs are severe, then you should visit a vet to see if there is another cause of the bumps and scabs. A vet will conduct an examination and run tests to see if your cat is suffering from mites, parasites, allergies, or a skin condition. The treatment will depend on which cause is identified, although a steroid cream that is applied to the skin is one of the most common forms of treatment for clearing up the symptoms, although it will not necessarily cure the cause.

Cat Scabs – The Final Verdict

A cat suffering from bumps and scabs on its skin is very common, and the most likely cause is an allergy to flea bites. If this has been ruled out, then a vet can check for other causes, including allergies, skin conditions, mites, or parasites. Once the cause of the bumps and scabs has been identified, hey will then decide on the best treatment accordingly.

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