Folliculitis in Cats

Not just teenagers get folliculitis—kitties do too.
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If your feline friend is plagued with red bumps on his face or body, folliculitis may be to blame. This unsightly condition doesn't occur only in people: it can cause your poor kitty lots of uncomfortable itching. Visit the vet to treat your kitty's folliculitis and clear up his complexion.


When your furry friend's hair follicles become infected and inflamed, folliculitis results. The main cause of folliculitis is damage to the hair follicles that allows Staphylococcus bacteria to flourish in the follicle and cause an infection. The infection causes raised, red, pus-filled and crusty bumps on the skin that are typically very itchy for your kitty. These bumps usually appear on and around his face, chin and neck, although they can appear anywhere on the body, according to Animal Planet. There may also be some hair loss in the area, usually as a result of your furry friend's scratching like mad at the bumps. This condition can easily be confused with other skin problems with a similar appearance, like miliary dermatitis or atopy, a type of skin allergy.

What's the Cause?

Folliculitis isn't as common in our fastidiously clean kitties as it is in our canine companions. Feline folliculitis usually occurs secondary to an illness compromising the kitty's immune system and opening him up to bacterial infections. Such illnesses include the feline immunodeficiency virus. Also, if your furry friend is currently taking immunosuppressant drugs like steroids or is experiencing an allergic skin reaction, folliculitis can develop. A kitty experiencing some feline acne, sometimes referred to as "catne," may also develop folliculitis in the same area, typically under the little one's chin. When your furry friend scratches or rubs an existing skin condition, like catne or miliary dermatitis, it can damage the hair follicles in the area, opening him up to infection such as folliculitis.


For a proper diagnosis of your furry buddy's skin condition, you'll need to bring him to your vet for some tests. Your vet will examine the skin, perform a skin scraping and take some blood tests. The results of these tests will determine whether or not a bacterial infection of the hair follicles is present, along with revealing any other underlying conditions that could be affecting your little one. Your vet will establish whether more than one type of skin condition is going on, to determine a course of treatment. She'll also check for more serious types of folliculitis, such as feline degenerative mucinotic mural folliculitis. This is an immunological condition characterized by severe scaling and crusting of the skin, according to the International Veterinary Information Service.


Treatment for your furry buddy's folliculitis typically involves the use of an oral antibiotic to clear up the bacterial infection, possibly for up to several weeks. You may also need to apply topical antibiotic ointments or shampoos to the area to help dry up the crusty bumps and relieve the itching associated with them. Topical steroids or oral ones may also help in some cases—if an immunological condition isn't present, because steroids can further suppress your kitty's immune system. If folliculitis is the result of another condition, such as atopy, feline acne or another underlying illness, that condition needs treatment as well, otherwise the folliculitis will simply return after the antibiotics are stopped. Consult with your vet to treat any underlying conditions with the appropriate medications.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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