You noticed black specks in cat fur. Not fleas, you say. After all, you have just finished dealing with those pests and you know what signs of an infestation to watch out for.
If you have completely ruled out fleas as the cause of these black specks, there are two possible reasons you should investigate: cat acne and skin fold dermatitis.
Black specks in cat fur, not fleas
If your pet has been flea-free for quite some time, the black specks on his fur may be caused either by feline acne or skin fold dermatitis.
What is cat acne?
Like humans, felines can also have acne. Almost all breeds of cats of both genders and varying ages can succumb to this condition.
To date, experts do not fully understand the reason why cats get acne. Some have suggested hormonal issues as the underlying cause of this problem.
A cat gets acne when his oil glands and hair follicles go on overdrive and produce excessive amounts of oil and keratin. In turn, the hair follicles become clogged with oil and keratin.
Cat acne usually appears on a feline’s chin, that is why the condition is also called cat chin acne. Cat acne looks like small bumps and usually appears alongside blackheads and whiteheads.
When the acne is mild, the condition is barely noticeable. Some owners can mistake cat chin acne as dirt. In some cats affected by cat acne, the fur may look greasy, especially in the area surrounding the chin.
Although almost all cats can get acne, some felines are more vulnerable. These include cats that are poorly groomed, under stress, have low immunity and those that have dietary issues.
Treating feline acne
Left untreated, cat chin acne can lead to more serious problems. These include hair loss, bleeding, swelling, bacterial infections, and folliculitis.
Unfortunately, the only way to confirm if your cat really has cat acne is to seek the help of a veterinarian. If you see the symptoms of cat acne on your pet, do not attempt to medicate him without your vet’s confirmation.
Usually, acne disappears on its own. But in some cases, you need to treat your cat, especially if the condition occurs regularly.
Here are a few treatment options your vet may recommend.
1. Omega-3 supplementation
Omega-3 and other fatty acids are known to help improve skin conditions, especially in cats that have acne.
2. Switch to a different food bowl
If you have been feeding your cat with a plastic food bowl, buy new ones, either one made out of ceramic or stainless steel. Plastic can cause acne in some felines.
Medication for cat acne can range from shampoos to antibiotics.
For mild cases of acne, your vet may ask you to wash your cat with a medicated shampoo that helps control oil production. Your vet may also recommend the use of shampoo made especially to counter fungi and bacteria.
To help unclog hair follicles your vet will prescribe benzoyl peroxide. However, the medicine is known to cause discomfort in some cats.
If an infection has occurred, the vet will prescribe antibiotics to your cat.
4. Antibacterial washes
Apart from using medications and supplements to treat acne, it is vital to keep the affected area clean.
For this task, your vet will recommend the use of an antibacterial wash. Typically, you will need to clean your cat’s chin or other affected areas twice a day until the acne is gone.
Feline acne can come back even after successful treatment. This is why it is crucial to groom your pet regularly.
Skinfold dermatitis in cats
Another possible reason why you are seeing black specks on your cat’s fur is the condition known as skin fold dermatitis.
The condition frequently occurs in cats and dogs that have pronounced folds in their faces, tails, and genital areas. The combination of friction, moisture, warmth, and lack of airflow in these areas create the right conditions required for this skin problem.
Skinfold dermatitis is attributed to the increased presence of yeast and bacteria that are commonly found on pets. When this happens, skin inflammation can occur. In turn, skin inflammation can lead to skin infection known as pyoderma.
Symptoms of skin fold dermatitis in cats
If the condition occurs on the face of a cat, the skin fold is noticeably red and emits a bad odor. In brachycephalic cats like the Persian, you can also see facial staining.
If the skin fold dermatitis is located in the tail fold, deep fistulas can develop and enter the animal’s body. When this happens, the risk of systemic infection runs high.
If the skin fold dermatitis is located in the genital area, the cat can also suffer from urinary tract infection.
Skinfold dermatitis treatment for cats
If your cat is suffering from skin fold dermatitis, he will recommend a few treatment options.
First, he will prescribe regular cleaning of the skin folds using antimicrobial solutions. If the dermatitis is severe, your vet will recommend surgery to remove excess skin on your pet. Alternatively, he might put your pet on a weight loss program to solve the underlying problem.
If your pet is at a significant risk of contracting this pet problem, regular grooming and cleaning is your first line of defense against this condition. It is also critical to keep your pet at a manageable weight.
Preventing black specks on your cat
Aside from keeping fleas at bay, you also have to pay special attention to your cat’s grooming requirements. To a large extent, cat chin acne and skin fold dermatitis are caused by poor grooming. Both conditions can be equally as bad as a flea infestation. And as such, you should do your best to prevent your feline from succumbing to any of the two.
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