How to Identify "Scabby Cat Disease"

By Cate Burnette

Known by laymen as "scabby cat disease," feline miliary dermatitis causes intense itching and tiny, scab-covered sores on the skin of cats. Some cats also lose a considerable amount of hair. The causes of the disease include an allergic reaction to flea bites, an autoimmune disorder, nutritional deficiencies, food allergies, parasitic infections of the skin, reactions to airborne allergens such as pollen or hormonal dysfunctions. Cats with miliary dermatitis need a complete examination and veterinary diagnosis to begin treatment of the cause and alleviate the symptoms of this disorder.

Examine your cat's skin for small, crusty lesions under the hair. Pull the hair apart gently at the roots to look for spots of inflammation and redness.

Look along your pet's lower spine and the base of the tail for these lesions or pimplelike pustules. Check its belly, flanks, neck and head for the sores.

Watch to see if your cat is excessively licking, biting or scratching at the affected areas. Miliary dermatitis causes an allergic skin reaction that is extremely pruritic -- itchy -- and cats with the condition may intensely groom themselves and create open wounds from scratching and biting.

Monitor your pet for thinning hair or hair loss around its neck, down the lower spine or on the tail. The hair will break off or fall out due to the excessive scratching inherent in the disease.

Observe your cat's reaction when you pet it on its lower back or tail. If the cat jerks away and begins scratching or licking at the area, it may be showing signs of miliary dermatitis. Sometimes even the slightest touch can set off an inflammatory response in the skin that causes intense itching.