Skip to Main Content

Scabby Cat Disease: How to Treat Feline Miliary Dermatitis

Scabby Cat Disease: How to Treat Feline Miliary Dermatitis

Miliary dermatitis is skin disease found only in cats. It leads to 'scabby' skin and discomfort. In this post, our Springfield vets discuss miliary dermatitis in cats, what causes it, and how it is treated.

What is feline miliary dermatitis?

Feline miliary dermatitis is an allergic skin condition that affects cats. This condition is classified by the small, crusted lesions that form on a cat's skin as a result of the allergic reaction.

What are the signs of feline miliary dermatitis in cats?

Affected cats will develop an itchy rash and may lick, bite, or scratch the affected skin. The lower spine, around the base of the tail, face, ears, neck, flanks, and belly are the most commonly affected areas.

The rash can become infected in severe cases as the cat spends a lot of time grooming and scratching the affected areas.

What causes miliary dermatitis in cats?

There are many potential causes of miliary dermatitis in cats, some of which include:

  • Skin mites
  • Chiggers
  • Pollen allergy
  • Fleas
  • Bacterial infection
  • Ear mites
  • Hair follicle mites
  • Ringworm 
  • Lice
  • Ticks
  • Nutritional deficiency 

While there are many different reasons why a cat may develop miliary dermatitis, by far the most common reason is flea bites. Some cats are extremely allergic to flea bites and thus develop a severe skin reaction when bitten.

Miliary dermatitis can also indicate an allergy to something in the cat's food or an environmental allergy (such as pollen). And while a contact allergy can happen, it is very rare in cats.

How does a veterinarian diagnose miliary dermatitis?

The medical history and clinical signs of a cat are used to make a diagnosis. If fleas or flea dirt are found, the diagnosis may be a flea allergy. Skin scrapings, biopsies, allergy tests, a hypoallergenic food trial, or a referral to a veterinary dermatologist may be recommended if another cause is suspected or if the condition does not respond to symptomatic flea treatment.

How is miliary dermatitis treated?

Treatment of feline dermatitis includes removing the irritant that caused the reaction and reducing the cat's symptoms. Flea preventive may also be used if applicable.

In cases of parasite infection, topical treatments may be used. A hypoallergenic food trial is advised in cases where a food allergy is suspected to be a component of the allergy. Antihistamines, essential fatty acids, topical treatment, and cyclosporine may also be used.

Can immunotherapy work for miliary dermatitis?

Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, is the final option. It involves changing how the immune system perceives the antigens that cause an immune reaction.

It begins with a blood or skin test to determine which environmental antigens your cat is allergic to, followed by allergy shots administered several times per week. Immunotherapy takes about a year to see if it is effective.

It should be noted that there are currently no cures for allergic skin disease. All therapies are designed to reduce and manage the amount of inflammation caused by allergies, as well as to prevent infections and discomfort.

Have you noticed symptoms of miliary dermatitis in your cat? Contact our Springfield vets today to book a physical examination.

New Patients & Referrals Welcome

The Regional Veterinary Referral Center is accepting new patients in emergency situations or by referral! Our experienced specialists are passionate about the health of Springfield pets. Contact us today to learn more.

Contact UsReferrals

(703) 451-8900 Contact