Cats tend to be pretty self-sufficient pets, and they don’t often show that they’re in pain. So, cat owners need to be observant and check their cats’ physical condition periodically to ensure they’re healthy.
When you scan your cat’s body, you may occasionally notice that their nipples are scabby. These scabs may or may not cause concern depending on their cause. We recommend consulting with your vet anytime your cat has a skin lesion to make sure it doesn’t progress into something more serious. Here are some common reasons cats may have scabs on or near their nipples.
The Top 5 Reasons Your Cat Might Have Scabby Nipples
1. Improper Cleaning
Most cats do a great job of grooming themselves. However, every once in a while, they might miss a spot. Sometimes, natural oils or sebum can cause buildup around the nipples. If you notice a crust around your cat’s nipples and it’s not dried blood, it’s a good chance that it’s sebum buildup.
This issue is more commonly found in overweight and obese cats that may have trouble reaching and self-grooming their belly area.
2. Minor Scratches and Wounds
Since a cat’s belly has less hair and is more exposed, it’s more susceptible to scratches and wounds. While cats can do a great job of protecting their vulnerable areas, they can still get into some accidents and end up scraping their nipples, especially if they have outdoor access.
If you only see a scab and the skin around it isn’t inflamed or red, you can continue to monitor. It might be a good idea to use some pet-safe antiseptic wipes to clean the area.
3. Dry Skin
Sometimes, your cat’s skin can look scabby due to dryness. You might notice this happening more in the fall and winter if you live in a climate that becomes very dry in these seasons. You can help alleviate any itchiness and dryness by applying a pet-safe moisturizer around your cat’s belly.
Mastitis occurs when a cat’s mammary glands become inflamed. This usually occurs during postpartum, after a cat gives birth, when their mammary glands are producing milk. Your cat may suffer from mastitis during nursing, after sudden weaning, or if their kittens die and milk accumulates in the glands.
Mastitis is often, but not always, caused by a bacterial infection when bacteria enter through the nipple and infect the mammary gland. When caught on time, mastitis has a generally favorable prognosis and can be treated with a short course of antibiotics and pain medication. However, if the problem is left unattended, it will require longer treatment and can make your cat very ill.
5. Miliary Dermatitis
Miliary dermatitis is a sign of skin allergies unique to cats. It normally causes tiny, crusty lesions in different parts of your cat’s body. It also causes itchy rashes, so you may notice increased licking and grooming from your cat.
The most common allergen that causes miliary dermatitis is fleas. However, cats can also develop this condition from food or environmental allergies. To complicate things further, it is also possible that your cat has multiple allergies. For this reason, it is always important to consult with your vet if your cat has signs of miliary dermatitis.
Never Pick Off Your Cat’s Scabs
If you notice scabs on your cat’s skin, it’s vital to resist the urge to pick them off. Picking off scabs can be painful for cats, and it will also reopen wounds and disrupt the healing process. It’s best to leave them alone and let them fall off naturally.
If you notice your cat licking or scratching the scabs excessively, you should get a protective collar and consult with your veterinarian.
When to Go to the Veterinarian
If you only see a couple of small scabs on your cat’s nipples, it probably won’t warrant an urgent visit to the vet’s office. Just monitor your cat’s condition for the next several days to ensure the scabs are healing properly. If the scabs become a repeated occurrence, pay special attention to your cat’s behavior to see if there’s anything abnormal causing these scabs.
If you notice itching, redness, inflammation, or swelling, consult with your veterinarian to see if further examination is needed. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose the issue and determine if your cat needs any medication.
There are several reasons why your cat’s nipples may be scabby. It can be difficult finding a straightforward cause of these scabs just by looking at them, but on many occasions, they heal on their own. So, if you don’t notice any skin irritation, licking, overgrooming, itching, redness, or signs of infections, just keep monitoring your cat’s condition for the next couple of days and make sure that the scabs are healing correctly.
If the wounds aren’t healing, or if you notice other signs, contact your veterinarian to diagnose the issue and help your cat get the proper treatment they need.
Featured Image Credit: Rashid Valitov, Shutterstock