owner looking for skin tag on cat

Key takeaway

Cat skin tags can be the result of friction, sweat, obesity, hormones, diabetes, old age, or simply genetics. To determine whether your cat’s skin tag is harmful, veterinary diagnosis is critical.

Picture this: Your kitty is snuggling up to you on the couch and you’re giving them their daily back scratches, sending them into a purring bliss, when all of a sudden, you feel something strange on their back. You push the skin away to get a better look and notice a small, red bump on their skin. Suddenly, your mind is filled with a million questions: “What is this bump?” “Is it something serious?” “Is it just a skin tag?”.

Finding a strange bump on your cat’s skin can definitely be alarming, but most of the time, these bumps are nothing more than a benign lump of skin, and they’re called skin tags. It’s not uncommon to find these lumps and bumps on your cat’s skin, but it’s helpful to be able to identify what they are so that you can know if it’s something serious or not. 

In this blog post, we'll be discussing what cat skin tags are, why cats get them, if they’re normal, and more.

What Is A Skin Tag On A Cat?

So, can cats get skin tags? Absolutely. But what is a skin tag on a cat?

A skin tag on a cat is essentially a small, fleshy mass of skin. They’re typically made up of blood vessels and collagen and they can appear anywhere on a cat’s body. A cat skin tag is usually flesh-colored, and it can either be raised or slightly dangle from their skin. 

Some skin tags stay the same size and others will grow over time. Most of the time, skin tags on cats are benign and not painful, but they can bleed if they get caught on something, which can make them susceptible to infection.

Skin tags can look similar to a variety of other cat skin growths. You might think it’s a skin tag, when it’s actually just a cat mole or a wart, both of which are totally harmless. But at the same time, a tick or a skin tumor can also easily be confused with a skin tag, which is why it’s so important to be able to properly identify different skin growths on your cat.

Why Do Cats Have Skin Tags?

There are a variety of factors that can cause a cat to develop skin tags, such as:

  • Friction: Skin tags can form due to friction, which is why they’re often found in between folds of skin, like the armpits, leg joints, chest, and abdomen. 
  • Hormones: An imbalance of hormones, whether that’s too much or too little, can affect a cat’s body and cause them to develop skin tags.
  • Diabetes: Some studies show that diabetic cats are more likely to develop skin tags because of insulin resistance.
  • Old age: When a cat gets older, their skin becomes looser, which can lead to more friction, resulting in skin tags.
  • Genetics: Some cat breeds are thought to be more prone to developing skin tags. 

While these are all potential reasons for skin tags on cats, there is no definitive answer as to why cats get them. It could be one of these factors, or a combination of a few, but the only way you can know is by bringing your cat to the vet to get checked.

Are Feline Skin Tags Normal?

Feline skin tags are completely normal. Skin tags don’t contain cancerous cells, so they’re not harmful for your kitty, and typically do not indicate any illness or disease. A lot of the time, cats won’t even notice they have a skin tag, unless it gets caught on something and bleeds.

One of the only instances where a cat skin tag may pose a threat is if it’s located on a cat’s eyes or mouth. This can make it difficult for them to see or eat, which can hinder their quality of life. In this case, you may want to bring your cat to the vet to see if you can get the skin tag removed.

Feline Skin Tag Diagnosis

If for any reason you’re concerned about a skin tag on your cat, it’s never a bad idea to bring them to a vet. A vet can help give you peace of mind and let you know if the skin tag is something to be concerned about.

When you bring your cat to the vet to get a skin tag checked, they’ll most likely perform a biopsy to determine if the cat skin growth is benign or malignant. A biopsy entails your vet taking a small sample of the skin tag and analyzing it further.

But some cats don’t react well to the vet, which in this case, using the clipnosis technique may be beneficial. Clipnosis is essentially a technique of using clips to gently squeeze the skin on the back of a cat as a way to calm them down before a veterinary visit. It’s completely harmless and pain-free for your cat, but it can make bringing them to the vet a whole lot less of a headache.

Identifying Different Cat Skin Growths

While a growth on your cat’s skin might just be a harmless skin tag, it can also be an assortment of different things. It’s important to be aware of the different cat skin growths so that you can identify what it is and if it’s something you should be concerned about. These are the different skin growths that you may see on a cat:

  • Warts: Warts on cats are rare, but possible. These viral warts are called papillomas, and they are usually flat and scaly. They can spread from cat to cat, but they will typically go away on their own over time.
  • Skin tumors: If a growth on your cat’s skin gets bigger or changes shape, then there’s a chance it may be malignant, or cancerous. In this case, you should bring your cat to the vet immediately so they can run tests and determine if the growth is a skin tumor
  • Abscess: An abscess is a pus-filled, swollen growth that will typically appear on a cat’s skin in an area that they’ve been bitten or scratched in. Abscesses are usually painful for cats, so a vet may prescribe an antibiotic or anti-inflammatory medication to treat the abscess and relieve some of their pain.
  • Acne: Cats can get acne just like humans can. If you notice small bumps on your cat’s chin or face, it could be blackheads. If your cat has acne, your vet may prescribe a special wash or medicine to get rid of it.
  • Bug bites: Bug bites and stings from mosquitos, bees, and wasps can also cause strange lumps on your cat’s skin. 
  • Ticks: You might think that a growth on your cat’s skin is just a skin tag, but if you take a closer look, it may  actually be a tick. Ticks can become so embedded in your cat’s skin that they resemble a skin growth. A vet can safely remove a skin tag from your cat’s skin.

sleeping cat

Cat Skin Tag Treatments

A majority of the time, cat skin tags will not require any treatment. This is because they are usually completely harmless and painless. If a skin tag is painful for your cat or becomes irritated, getting it removed may be the best option.

Whatever you do, don’t try to remove the skin tag yourself. Always bring your cat to the vet to get a skin tag removed. There are several methods for removing cat skin tags. You can freeze them, which cuts off blood supply to the area and causes the skin tag to die and fall off. You can cauterize them, which involves burning off the skin tag and then sealing the skin around it.

Ligation is the most common method for removing a cat skin tag, and it involves wrapping string around the skin tag to cut off oxygen and blood supply, which causes the skin tag to die and fall off. The last removal method is to just cut it off, but this may involve putting your cat under general anesthesia.  

Your vet will have the best idea of how to properly remove a skin tag from your cat’s skin.

Final Notes

Noticing a strange bump on your cat’s skin is definitely alarming, but thankfully, a majority of the time, that bump will be nothing more than just a simple skin tag. While a cat skin tag might look scary, it’s usually just a benign mass of cells that is completely harmless and painless for your kitty. But if you’re ever concerned about a skin tag on your cat, then it’s always a good idea to bring your cat to the vet to get the skin tag checked.

But landing an appointment with your vet can take days, if not weeks, and can leave you to panic about your cat’s health. If getting an appointment with your vet is something you struggle with, just use Dutch.com. With Dutch, we can help get to the bottom of your cat’s skin tags with our easy and convenient telemedicine for pets.

All of our Dutch-affiliated vets are ready to answer any pet health questions you may have. Our vets are licensed to help with a myriad of topics, such as how to relieve cat bronchitis symptoms or where to pet a cat. So whether you’re dealing with a cat with a swollen belly from worms or a cat pacing, we’re here to help you along every step of the way.

References

  1. “COMMON CANCERS IN CATS”, Colorado State University, https://www.csuanimalcancercenter.org/2019/11/20/common-cancers-in-cats/

  2. "Clipnosis" technique can calm cats in vet's office and at home, Ohio State University, https://sheltermedicine.vetmed.ufl.edu/2019/10/15/tattoo-study/