Is your cat developing raw, itchy spots on its skin? Perhaps you see your cat biting or chewing at these spots and maybe they even ooze a little. Known as hot spots, these irritations can be quite unpleasant for your cat. Thus, it's important that you figure out what is causing them so you can treat them appropriately. Here's a look at two common causes of hot spots in cats.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Some cats can be infected with fleas and barely show symptoms, but others have a more severe reaction to fleas, known as flea allergy dermatitis. These cats are actually allergic to the fleas' saliva and it causes severe itching when the fleas bite. The cats will itch and scratch at the flea bites until their skin is raw.

Check your cat for fleas by parting the hair on the neck and looking for these tiny, black-brown bugs. You may also notice little blood spots where your cat has been sleeping, or see fleas jumping off a surface that your cat has been laying. If you do find fleas, your vet can provide you with a flea treatment, as well as an antibiotic cream you can apply to the hot spots until they heal. Some cats may also need antihistamine injections to soothe the itching and break the cycle of scratching at the hot spots.

Cheyletellia Mites

This parasite likes to feed on the outer layer of the cat's skin. Mild infestations usually cause just general hair loss and itchiness, but severe infestations, in younger cats in particular, may cause more intense itching and skin abrasions. If your cat shows these other symptoms, in addition to hot spots, there's a good chance mites are to blame:

  • Dandruff on the surface of the hair (it sometimes looks like the dandruff is moving because the mites are carrying it)
  • General hair loss all over the body
  • Skin with a scaly appearance

If mites are suspected, your vet will take a skin sample to diagnose the condition. Then your cat will be treated with an insecticide, special shampoos, and possibly also with oral medications. Clipping the hair short may help to get rid of the mites and allow the hot spots to heal. It's important that your home is also treated with insecticides to get rid of the mites.

If your cat is developing hot spots in his or her skin, don't ignore the problem. Figure out whether fleas or mites are to blame and talk to your vet or bring your cat to an animal hospital, like Beaver Lake Animal Hospital, to start treatment in a timely manner.