No pet owner likes to find mysterious lumps or bumps on their cat's skin, but if it's a skin tag or mole, it's likely a part of aging. As a pet owner, you need to monitor your cat's skin and keep an eye out for any unusual or changing skin growths. Seek veterinary care if you see something out of the ordinary.
Understand a cat skin tag
Skin tags are fleshy growths that protrude from your cat's skin. They may have the appearance of flat flaps that don't look as if they are well attached to the rest of the skin. Skin tags can be flesh colored or black and appear most frequently in areas of friction, according to the University of Utah Health.
Although skin tags are usually small, some can grow to significant size. They're usually painless and harmless. However, tags that appear around the eye can cause a reduction in the visual field.
Know when to go
Unless a skin tag is bothering your cat, there's no cause for an immediate veterinary visit. Simply make note of the tag on your cat's home medical record so you remember to mention it at your next vet visit.
Monitor the tag. Call your veterinarian if you notice the cat skin tag changing significantly in size, color, shape or is causing your cat any level of annoyance or discomfort. If a cat is rubbing a tag to a red color, or you see it bleeding, it's probably irritating your cat and should be removed by a vet.
Don't do it yourself
Don't attempt to cut off a skin tag yourself. Although medical sites such as the University of Utah Health advises that people can snip off their own skin tags with a sharp cuticle scissors or tie a thread tightly around it to make it fall off, it's not a good idea with cats.
Your feline is unlikely to cooperate with either method. You could end up getting bitten or scratched in the process. Even if you're successful, you could end up creating a bigger problem for your cat with the potential for infection or excess bleeding according to the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority.
Monitor cat moles
Cats can be born with skin moles, similar to birthmarks, or they can develop over time as a type of skin growth. Moles generally are described as brown or black spots on the skin according to WebMD.
Keep an eye on moles or other growths that develop on your cat's skin. Any color changes, size changes or irritation could be a sign that the cat mole is cancerous.
Review the risk of cancer
Any growth on your pet's skin can potentially be a sign that your cat has cancer, but not all skin growths mean cancer. Your veterinarian will perform diagnostic tests on your cat's suspicious growths to determine whether they are benign or malignant. Common tests include physical inspection of the growth, blood tests, performing a fine needle aspiration on the growth, and/or performing a biopsy on the tissue of the growth.
Determine the treatment
If the mole or skin tag is tested by your veterinarian and the tests show the growth is benign, your veterinarian most likely will choose to leave the growth alone. Treatment is not necessary for benign growths unless the location of the growth is causing medical problems for your cat and your veterinarian decides removal is necessary. Removing a tag or mole is usually not worth the risk of surgery and anesthesia for your cat according to Mercola Healthy Pets.
If the mole or skin tag is malignant, your veterinarian will help you choose an effective form of treatment. The type of growth, location, and size will play a role in how your veterinarian decides to deal with it. She may choose to remove the growth by using a laser, freezing or cauterizing it. Alternatively, she may choose to remove the growth and any surrounding tissue that could be cancerous. In cases where the cancer may have spread or cannot be completely removed, chemotherapy or radiation treatments may be used according to Merck Veterinary Manual.
- Ask The Cat Doctor: Cat with Tissue Growth on Neck
- Merck Veterinary Manuals: Tumors of the Skin in Cats
- Mercola Healthy Pets: Don't Let Your Pet Have Surgery for Scary Lumps Until Your Vet Does This
- WebMD: Moles, Freckles, and Skin Tags
- University of Utah Health: Facts About Skin Tags
- University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority: Removing Moles and Skin Tags