Scabs on cats. Causes

This page lists the major causes of scabs on cats. Scratching to relieve itching is the major cause of scabs on cats as the scab is formed to cover the self-inflected wound. You just have to figure out the reason for the itching.

Feline Scab
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Feline Scab

Feline Scabies or Head Mange – This is a mite (a tiny parasite – Notoedes cati), the female of which tunnels into the cat’s skin on her head (and possibly the paws and genitalia). There they lay eggs. The eggs hatch and become adult and lay more eggs. The cycle takes 3-4 weeks. It is very contagious. The scabs occur because the cat scratches due to intense itching. Crusts are grey to yellow. Vets do a skin biopsy or skin scrapping.

Chiggers aka harvest mites or red bugs – this parasite is picked up in grassland. Likely to be in between toes and around ears and mouth. A magnifying glass reveals red/yellow/orange specks. They cause severe irritation. The cat scratches creating sores which form scabs.

Ringworm – this is a well-known condition (see pages featuring this disease). It is a fungus. Scabs and crusts can form leading to sores. Itching can cause scratching and scabs.

Ear mites (Otodectes cynotis) – another well-known condition. These are nasty parasites and one of the most common cat health problems. They cause intense itching leading to scratching which in turn causes scabs and loss of hair around the ears. Sometimes cats are also allergic to ear mites compounding the problem. The irritation is caused when the mite feeds, piercing the skin.

Skin diseases – one of which is mosquito bite hypersensitivity. This condition affects the tips of the ears, bridge of nose and itching of the foot pads. The signs are crusty sores with erosions and scabs. Cats who have this condition should be kept inside the home. The cat might have a fever.

Allergies – such as a food allergy causes itching, then scratching and ultimately scabs. Food allergies normally affect the head area.

Contact dermatitis – caused by coming into contact with a chemical to which the cat reactions badly. The chemical will often be in a household product such as a cleaning material or shampoo.

Feline acne – you’ll see blackheads under the chin. They can become inflamed and form scabs.

Kittens – poor sanitation of kittening box leading to bacterial infection – Newborn kittens can develop scabs, usually on the abdomen.

Allergies such as the flea bite allergy causes red blisters on the skin. I have not classified these as scabs. There is arguably an overlap here.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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6 Responses

  1. Andrea says:

    Help I found this on my cat under is red skin I want to know what it is she got ringworm a couple weeks ago it’s gone now but this is new if you know please reply

    • Andrea, if your cat had ringworm a couple of weeks ago then this is probably ringworm. It is not red and inflamed. That would indicate to me that it is being resolved. I don’t know how you treated your cat’s ringworm if you did it at all.

      It can be hard to treat conventionally. And it tends to come back unless you treated conventionally and thoroughly.

      It doesn’t look too bad to me. I would tend to wait and watch and inspect other parts of your cat’s skin to see whether there are any other signs of ringworm.

      Obviously, I would recommend that you see a veterinarian because I am not a veterinarian. I take my information from the best reference books and personal experience as a layperson. I wish you the best of luck.

  2. mabel cordova says:

    I need help, my a few days ago this showed on my cats skin. Its on her side right behing her right front leg. Im a beginner at being cat mom and need amswers plese let me know if any of yall have amswers. email me at ma***************@gm***.Thank you i will aprecciate it very much.

    • Sorry for the ridiculously late response. You have probably resolved the matter by now. I am not a veterinarian. This looks like ringworm. However, I have to recommend that you see a veterinarian about it if you are concerned. You might try treating it as ringworm as a diagnostic test. If it resolves and disappears after your treatment then you have confirmed that it is ringworm. I wish you the best of luck.

  3. pat says:

    My adult female cat has a big patch of black scabby stuff on her back near her left hind leg. Vet said it is there because she had a problem but doesn’t have it any longer. Gave her lyzine ointment. After months it mostly went away. It is back again. (Don’t trust the vet. Told me another cat had the sniffles and it was lung cancer.) I’ve looked online and don’t a picture of what it really looks like. No oozing, no red specks, no bumps. Doesn’t look like the pictures of milinary dermitis. Just big black crusty scab. Not crazy itchy. Have 2 other cats without the problem. All on flea control. Because of convic-19 vets have only been seeing emergencies in Ky.

    • Not sure. It is circular in shape. This points to ringworm which is not always itchy. Although ringworm forms a red scab. Is you cat otherwise healthy? Dermatitis? Allergy? Has ringworm been an issue before? Probably not as you would have said.

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