Cat Dermatitis: Symptoms, Treatment Options & Cost

by | Jun 4, 2024 | Cats, Grooming

What Is Feline Dermatitis?

Feline dermatitis, or miliary dermatitis, is a general term used to describe various inflammatory skin conditions that can affect cats. It is characterized by the presence of small, crusty lesions or scabs on the cat’s skin, often accompanied by intense itching and discomfort. Miliary dermatitis can be caused by a variety of underlying factors, ranging from allergies and infections to hormonal imbalances and stress.

Is Miliary Dermatitis in Cats Contagious?

The good news is that miliary dermatitis in cats is not contagious to humans or other pets in the household. It is not a transmissible disease but rather a skin condition that develops as a result of various underlying health issues or environmental factors. However, addressing the underlying cause is important to prevent the condition from worsening or recurring.

Common Symptoms of Feline Dermatitis

Cats with feline dermatitis may exhibit a range of symptoms, including:

  • Itching and Scratching: One of the most common and noticeable symptoms of feline dermatitis is intense itching and excessive scratching. Cats may lick, bite, or scratch at their skin, often causing further irritation and damage.
  • Skin Redness and Inflammation: The affected areas of the cat’s skin may appear red, swollen, or inflamed, indicating an underlying inflammatory response.
  • Hair Loss and Bald Patches: Cats with dermatitis may experience localized or widespread hair loss, which can lead to the formation of bald patches on their skin.
  • Presence of Rashes or Bumps: Small, crusty lesions or scabs may develop on the cat’s skin, often in clusters or across multiple areas of the body.

Types and Causes of Feline Dermatitis

Feline dermatitis can be classified into several different types, each with its own underlying causes:

Allergic Dermatitis

  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis: Caused by an allergic reaction to flea saliva, often resulting in intense itching and skin irritation.
  • Food Allergy Dermatitis: Triggered by sensitivity to certain ingredients in the cat’s diet, such as proteins or carbohydrates.
  • Environmental Allergy Dermatitis: Caused by an allergic reaction to various environmental factors, such as pollen, dust, or mold.

Contact Dermatitis

  • Irritant Contact Dermatitis: Caused by direct contact with irritating substances, such as household cleaners, chemicals, or certain plants.
  • Allergic Contact Dermatitis: Triggered by an allergic reaction to specific substances that come into contact with the cat’s skin.

Infectious Dermatitis

  • Bacterial Dermatitis: Caused by bacterial infections, often secondary to underlying skin conditions or injuries.
  • Fungal Dermatitis: Caused by fungal infections, such as ringworm, which can lead to hair loss and skin lesions.

Neurogenic Dermatitis

  • Psychogenic Dermatitis: Caused by stress, anxiety, or behavioral issues, leading to excessive grooming and skin irritation.

Diagnosing Feline Dermatitis

Diagnosing the underlying cause of feline dermatitis is crucial for effective treatment. Your veterinarian will typically follow a multi-step process to identify the root cause:

  • Veterinary Examination: The vet will perform a thorough physical examination, including a close inspection of the cat’s skin and coat, to assess the extent and characteristics of the dermatitis.
  • Skin Scraping and Cultures: The vet may collect skin samples or perform a skin scraping to check for the presence of parasites, bacteria, or fungi that could be contributing to the skin condition.
  • Allergy Testing: If allergies are suspected, the vet may recommend allergy testing, either through intradermal skin testing or blood tests, to identify the specific allergens triggering the dermatitis.
  • Differential Diagnosis: The vet will consider other potential underlying conditions, such as hormonal imbalances, immune system disorders, or even behavioral issues, to rule out other possible causes of the skin condition.

By thoroughly investigating the cause of feline dermatitis, your veterinarian can develop a targeted treatment plan to address the underlying issue and provide relief for your cat.

A veterinarian will need to complete a comprehensive exam to determine the cause of the feline dermatitis.

Treatment Options for Feline Dermatitis

The treatment for feline dermatitis will depend on the condition’s underlying cause. Your veterinarian may recommend one or a combination of the following treatment options:

  • Flea Control: If flea allergy dermatitis is the culprit, your vet will likely recommend a comprehensive flea control program, including the use of flea preventatives and thorough environmental treatment.
  • Dietary Modifications: Your vet may suggest a hypoallergenic or limited-ingredient diet for food allergy dermatitis to eliminate the offending allergens.
  • Antihistamines and Corticosteroids: These medications can help reduce inflammation, itching, and discomfort associated with various types of allergic dermatitis.
  • Antibiotics and Antifungal Medications: Your vet may prescribe topical or oral antibiotics or antifungal medications to clear bacterial or fungal infections.
  • Topical Treatments: Your vet may recommend the use of medicated shampoos, creams, or ointments to soothe the affected skin and promote healing.
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids: These supplements can help support the skin’s barrier function and reduce inflammation.
  • Stress Management: Addressing the underlying behavioral or environmental stressors may be an important part of the treatment plan for cats with psychogenic dermatitis.

If your cat is suffering from feline dermatitis, it’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to develop a personalized treatment plan. Schedule an appointment with your vet today to get your cat’s skin condition properly diagnosed and treated, ensuring their overall health and well-being.

Costs Associated with Feline Dermatitis Treatment

The cost of treating feline dermatitis can vary depending on the underlying cause, the severity of the condition, and the specific treatments required. Some general cost estimates include:

The actual costs may vary depending on your location, the veterinary clinic, and your cat’s specific needs. Working closely with your veterinarian and discussing the treatment plan and associated costs can help you prepare and budget for your cat’s dermatitis care.

Can Odie Pet Insurance Provide Coverage for Such an Investment?

Pet insurance can cover the diagnosis, treatment, and management of feline dermatitis, depending on the specific policy.


This method is the most common for pet insurance companies. You pay out of pocket for the veterinarian bill, and then the insurance company reimburses you for what’s covered under the insurance plan. The steps look like this.

  • You pay the vet bill after your cat’s visit.
  • You fill out the pet insurance claim form.
  • Submit the claim form and other required documentation to the insurer. 
  • After the claim is approved, you will be reimbursed for eligible expenses. 

What Does Odie Pet Insurance Cover?

Pet insurance covers various veterinary expenses, providing financial protection and peace of mind for pet owners. Here are the details of the coverage options offered by Odie Pet Insurance:

Illness & Injury Plan

The Illness & Injury Plan is an all-inclusive insurance plan designed to cover a wide range of medical needs for your pet. This plan includes comprehensive coverage for various illnesses, injuries, and veterinary services. Some of the covered items include:

  • 24/7 Televet Chat
  • Emergency vet visits
  • Overnight hospital stays
  • IV Fluids & Medications
  • Medical Supplies
  • Surgeries
  • MRI/CAT Scans
  • Rehabilitative Care
  • Prescription Medications
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Laboratory Tests

Accident-Only Plan

The Accident-Only Plan is designed for pet owners seeking coverage specifically for accidents. This plan provides financial protection for emergency veterinary care resulting from accidental injuries. It includes 90% reimbursement up to $10,000 each year, with a $250 annual deductible. 

Here’s an overview of the Accident-Only Plan:

  • Coverage for broken bones, sprains, eye injuries, and traumatic dental fractures.
  • Coverage for wounds, including bite wounds, lacerations, snake bites, and bee stings.
  • Veterinary treatments covered for accidental injuries include X-rays & ultrasounds, laboratory tests, emergency care, hospitalization, CT scan & MRI, and surgery.

The Wellness Add-on Plan

The Wellness Plan is an add-on for routine care coverage you can purchase with an insurance policy. It focuses on preventive care and covers routine veterinary services. Odie has two wellness plan options available: 

Basic Plan:

  • Covers services such as spay/neuter and teeth cleaning, rabies vaccination, flea & tick prevention, heartworm prevention, vaccination/titer, wellness exam, heartworm test or FELV screen, blood, fecal, parasite exam, microchip, urinalysis or ERD, and deworming.
  • Reimbursement up to $305 per year.

Plus Plan:

  • Ideal for puppies and kittens.
  • Covers services such as spay/neuter and teeth cleaning, rabies vaccination, flea & tick prevention, heartworm prevention, vaccination/titer, wellness exam, heartworm test or FELV screen, blood, fecal, parasite exam, microchip, urinalysis or ERD, and deworming.
  • Reimbursement up to $535 per year.

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