Seborrhea in Cats

Peee-ewww! If this is your reaction when you are around your four-legged friend, or if he is super itchy, he might be suffering from a skin condition called seborrhea or seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrhea is a much less common condition in cats than it is in dogs, but some purebred cats, especially Persians, can suffer from it.

In cats, seborrhea is often the result of an underlying cause or condition, rather than a problem with the skin itself.

Underlying causes can include:

  • Allergies
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Dietary deficiencies
  • Absorption disorders
  • Parasites
  • Retroviruses

Aside from a nasty, foul odor, symptoms of seborrhea may include a greasy, oily coat; scaly skin; and dandruff-like flakes in the fur.

Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough history and physical exam of your kitty.

They may recommend other tests, such as:

  • A skin scraping to rule out parasites
  • Fungal and bacterial cultures
  • A fecal exam to rule out fecal parasites
  • A complete blood count, chemistry profile, and urinalysis 
  • A thyroid test to determine if the thyroid gland is producing too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) 
  • A test for feline leukemia
  • A test for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) 
  • Allergy testing 
  • A skin biopsy, which is required for diagnosis when underlying diseases have been ruled out by the above-noted tests

Treating seborrhea depends on the underlying condition. Treatment may include the use of shampoos and conditioners, fatty acids and vitamin/mineral supplements, and other medications, such as antibiotics, to treat any secondary infections.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.