A skin tag is a mass that can appear on any part of your pet’s body. It is composed mostly of collagen and blood vessels that are covered by skin. Skin tags are soft to the touch and usually have the same color as your pet’s skin. Skin tags can either dangle from a stalk or appear as bumps on the skin.
Some skin tags do not change their shape while others grow larger. Most are benign and are not painful. However, some skin tags need to be removed because of their location on a cat’s body and because these cause discomfort.
Can cats get skin tags?
Yes. Just like humans, cats can get skin tags. Fortunately, most skin tags are benign, and most likely, you do not have to worry about these.
Distinguishing skin tags from other lumps and bumps
Skin tags are not the only lumps and bumps that you can find on your pet’s body. And as a cat owner, it is a good idea to know how to identify each of these so that you will know which require immediate professional attention and which ones do not.
Your furry little pal’s boundless curiosity can sometimes cause minor injuries which in turn, can lead to bumps.
Although some bumps can resolve by themselves, others need immediate attention to prevent infections.
Abscesses form when cats are scratched or bitten. These bumps are painful to the touch because these are filled with pus.
A cat with an abscess may look tired and may not want to be touched. If your cat allows you to touch him, you can use a warm compress to help in relieving pain. Otherwise, the best option is to bring him to the vet.
At the clinic, the vet will clean the area surrounding the abscess and he may even trim the fur in that area. Usually, the vet will prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. But if the abscess has grown deep, he will recommend surgery.
Three types of tumors typically grow on a cat’s body.
Lipomas are fatty tumors that can appear on almost any part of your cat’s body. Although tumors are usually associated with cancer, lipomas are usually benign and do not need to be removed.
To confirm if a lump is malignant or benign, he will need to get a sample of the fatty tumor through a needle.
If the fatty tumor is benign, he will not recommend its removal. He will just instruct you to watch out for changes. But if the fatty tumor is malignant or if it grows bigger, the vet will recommend its removal.
2. Mast cell tumors
Although mast cell tumors can appear on any body part, these typically appear on the neck and body of a cat.
Most mast cell tumors are benign although they require immediate attention from a vet because they can be itchy.
Like mast cell tumors, fibrosarcomas can appear in any part of a cat’s body. In rare instances, it can appear on an injection site.
If you notice one after your cat was vaccinated, the vet will ask you to observe it for a few weeks. If after a few weeks, the bump has not vanished, you will need to visit the clinic.
Like humans, cats can get acne on their face. Acne usually appears when a cat produces an excessive amount of oil, especially in his face and chin. In some cases, an acne breakout is triggered by the use of plastic feeding bowls.
Insect bites from ants, mosquitoes, wasps, and bees can leave bumps on a cat’s body. Usually, these bumps are red and swollen although bites in the ears and nose may look worse due to the reaction of your cat’s body.
If you suspect that your pet has been stung by an insect, bring him to the vet. The vet will remove the stinger if it is still lodged on the skin. He may also prescribe steroids or antihistamine for the swelling.
At first sight, ticks can look like skin tags. Sometimes, ticks can stay hidden beneath the fur and can feel like small bumps on the skin.
Ticks can infect your cat, even if he lives indoors exclusively. These pests can hitch a ride on any member of your household that spends a substantial amount of time outdoors.
Sometimes, pet owners forget that their cats have nipples, even tomcats. Most cats have eight nipples and these run parallel to one another.
What should you do to your cat’s skin tags?
More often than not, skin tags pose no harm to your cat. You can just let them be. However, if your cat is experiencing discomfort or irritation because of the placement of the skin tag, you can ask the vet to remove these.
Your cat can experience irritation from a skin tag if it is rubbing against a body part or a collar. If your cat can reach it with his tongue, the skin tag can also be irritated during grooming.
Although skin tags are not painful when touched, do not attempt to remove these by yourself. Do not pull or cut these. Otherwise, your cat will get hurt and might inadvertently bite or scratch you.
The best thing that you can do when you find a bump on your cat’s body is to observe it for a few weeks. Take note of its location, size, color, and shape and observe it for a few weeks.
If the bump does not change after a few weeks, you can report it to the vet on your next visit. Otherwise, if the bump undergoes drastic changes in just a few weeks, it will require the immediate attention of the vet.
At the clinic, the vet will thoroughly inspect the bump to determine if it is something that you need to worry about.
If the vet thinks that the bump is malignant or may pose problems later on, he will recommend a few options, including snipping and freezing the growth.
Depending on the size of the bump, your cat may need to be sedated for the procedure.
Check your cat’s body regularly
Make it a habit to touch and observe your cat’s body while grooming or while playing with him. Not only will this help you form a strong bond with your pet.
More importantly, this is an opportunity for you to find suspicious growths on your cat’s body. Whether these are benign or malignant, it is always better to get a step ahead of these before you get caught surprised with something that may be life-threatening.
Image: istockphoto.com / Vershinin