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Home > Cats > Can a Sebaceous Cyst on a Cat be Treated? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Preventions

Can a Sebaceous Cyst on a Cat be Treated? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Preventions

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If you have become aware of a lump while petting your kitty, it may very well be a sebaceous cyst since they are quite common in cats. They are usually identified as round, firm masses that can contain fluid and are formed by a clogged hair follicle. Although they are generally not painful, they can become infected over time, especially if your cat is constantly licking or scratching the area. So, can a sebaceous cyst be treated?

Yes, there are several ways to treat your pet. Draining the cyst can be beneficial, but surgical removal is usually required to prevent the cyst from refilling. You should avoid treating the sebaceous cyst yourself because it can result in an inflammatory response in the nearby tissue.


How Do I Know If My Cat has a Sebaceous Cyst?

Sebaceous cysts often appear on the head, neck, torso, or upper legs and are distinguished by a single raised bump that may be white or slightly blue. The fluid-filled sacs are typically benign, which means they are not cancerous and do not cause your cat any physical discomfort. If the cyst bursts, it may ooze a grayish white, brownish, or cottage cheese-like discharge. When this happens, the wound can become infected and require additional treatment.

Sebaceous cysts can begin as small, raised patches of skin on your cat and may be difficult to detect in the early stages due to your cat’s dense hair. Cysts become more visible as they grow in size, fill with fluid and subsequently burst, or your cat feels irritated and scratches the area constantly.

Cat having ultrasound at the vet
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What Causes a Sebaceous Cyst to Develop?

Microscopic oil glands surround all the pores and hair follicles in your cat’s skin. These glands produce sebum that protects and moisturizes the hair and skin and gives it its shiny coat. A sebaceous cyst can form when a normal pore or hair follicle becomes blocked. Dirt, infections, scar tissue, or even normal sebum that becomes too thick to move out of the pore’s opening can cause a blockage.

When this occurs, your cat’s immune system causes the surrounding tissues to wall off the damage, forming a small pocket that gradually fills with keratin, which is a yellowish substance found in nails and fur. Over time, the fluid fills up more and more. The filling causes the cyst to stop growing in some cats; in others, the cyst grows until it ruptures and fluid leaks out.

Diagnosis of a Sebaceous Cyst

Your veterinarian may suspect that your pet has a cyst, but a biopsy and microscopic examination of tissue is usually required for a definitive diagnosis. They will most likely evaluate the mass based on the color, size, consistency, and whether it grows into the underlying tissue or is only felt on the skin. A fine needle aspirate and cytology are common procedures performed by your vet. A small needle is used to extract a sample of cells from the mass, which a pathologist sends to a laboratory for analysis. To confirm that the cyst is not cancerous, sometimes a surgical biopsy is required to remove either the entire mass or a portion of it for testing.

You should give your veterinarian an approximate timeline of the cysts’ appearance and any noticeable changes or growth.

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Treatment of a Sebaceous Cyst

Sebaceous cysts can be treated in various ways, ranging from conservative to aggressive. Sebaceous cysts do not affect many cats and cause no discomfort or interference with their daily lives. In less aggressive cases where the cysts have remained the same size, your veterinarian may advise leaving the cyst intact as long as it is not bothering your cat.

Surgical removal of cysts is a common treatment. Your cat will be sedated, and stitches will be used to pull the skin together over the excised area. Laser treatment, if available, is beneficial for sweat gland cysts. Multiple small follicular cysts may benefit from topical treatment, while other procedures may be required to address the underlying causes.

Your cat has a good chance of recovering from the removal of sebaceous cysts, which typically will not affect your pet’s long-term health or lifespan.


How Can I Keep My Pet Safe?

It is essential that your pet refrains from rubbing, scratching, licking, or biting the cyst, as this can result in inflammation, infection, and bleeding. If the cyst opens, it must be kept clean, and your pet may need to wear a protective bandage over the affected area until it heals.

The incision site should be kept clean and dry after surgery, and it’s important that your pet does not interfere with the wound. Any swelling, bleeding, or suture loss should be reported to your veterinarian.

Taking care of your pet’s skin and coat as directed by your vet can help reduce the formation of sebaceous cysts, and you can help avoid cysts by ensuring your cat lives in a clean environment. This also includes keeping your cat’s litter box clean.

If you brush your cat regularly, you will be able to detect cysts as they form, and you can then keep an eye on them and take your cat to the vet if the cyst grows or changes. Make sure to discuss your cat’s skin care since overbathing can be just as bad as not bathing enough.


In most cases of a sebaceous cyst, they are harmless if they are small, closed, and intact, and no treatment is required. However, if the decision is made to biopsy the cyst, it is usually removed surgically. If your cat develops recurring or multiple cysts, a diagnostic investigation may be required to determine the underlying cause. It is not advised to drain your cat’s cyst yourself; veterinary care is always the safest option. Be sure to check your cat’s skin for any signs of cysts or bumps regularly, and keep their environment and skin clean the best you can.

See also: Does Pet Insurance Cover Cancer? Standard Policies & FAQ

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