Bacterial diseases

Pyoderma in Cats - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Laura García Ortiz
By Laura García Ortiz, Veterinarian specialized in feline medicine. April 19, 2021
Pyoderma in Cats - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

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Pyoderma in cats is an infectious skin disease caused by an increase in the multiplication of certain bacteria, especially Staphylococcus intermedius. This is a group of cocci found on the skin of our felines. This multiplication can be due to various causes and will result in lesions on the cat's skin such as erythematous papules, scabs, epidermal collarettes or hyperpigmented spots due to the inflammatory process. It will also be accompanied by other clinical signs.

The diagnosis is based on the isolation of the microorganism or on the study of biopsies. Treatment consists of antibiotic and antiseptic therapy, together with the treatment of the underlying cause. Keep reading this AnimalWised article to learn more about pyoderma in cats, specifically its causes, symptoms, and treatment.

  1. What is pyoderma in cats?
  2. Causes of pyoderma in cats
  3. Symptoms of Pyoderma in Cats
  4. Diagnosis of pyoderma in cats
  5. Treatment of feline pyoderma

What is pyoderma in cats?

Pyoderma is most commonly an infection of bacterial origin that is located on the skin of our cats. It can occur at any age and is not predisposed by breed since it does not have a genetic origin. It can generally be described as a skin condition which results in the presence of pus. For this reason, it can also be caused by fungal yeast infections or other underlying causes which we relay below.

    Purulent infections can occur anywhere on the cat's body, but appear most often in the face. In some circumstances, they cause inflammation or itching and, therefore, alter the natural defenses of the cat's skin.

    Source: cvcruzverde

    Pyoderma in Cats - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment - What is pyoderma in cats?

    Causes of pyoderma in cats

    The bacterium that causes pyoderma in cats is mostly a coccus called Staphylococcus intermedius, although it can also be caused by other bacteria, such as the bacilli E.coli, Pseudomonas or proteus spp.

    Staphylococcus is a bacterium that is normally found on the skin of cats, so pyoderma only occurs when this bacterium proliferates beyond normal due to changes in the skin such as the following:

    • Trauma
    • Hormonal problems
    • Allergies
    • Skin maceration after exposure to water
    • Autoimmune diseases
    • Parasites
    • Ringworm
    • Burns
    • Skin tumors
    • Immunosuppression (drugs, retroviruses, tumors, etc.)

    Pyoderma is only one of the skin conditions which can be caused by various diseases. Take a look at our article on why your cat has scabs to learn more.

    Symptoms of Pyoderma in Cats

    Pyoderma can produce a variety of symptoms, presenting as papulopustules and erythematous dermatitis. The clinical signs of pyoderma in cats are as follows:

    • Pruritus (itching)
    • Interfollicular or follicular pustules
    • Erythematous papules
    • Crusted papules
    • Epidermal collarets
    • Dry skin
    • Scabs
    • Eruptions
    • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmented areas
    • Alopecia
    • Humid areas
    • Miliary dermatitis
    • Lesions of the feline eosinophilic granuloma complex
    • Pustules that may bleed and secrete purulent fluid

    Wounds on a cat's skin can be from various causes. Our article on the causes of cat wounds, we go into some more general detail.

    Pyoderma in Cats - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment - Symptoms of Pyoderma in Cats

    Diagnosis of pyoderma in cats

    The diagnosis of pyoderma in cats is made after direct observation of the lesions. After this, a differential diagnosis of skin problems that our cats may suffer will need to be carried out by a veterinarian. This will require obtaining samples of the lesions for microbiological and histopathological study. A differential diagnosis of feline pyoderma should include the following diseases that can cause lesions on the skin of felines:

    • Dermatophytosis (ringworm)
    • Demodicosis (Demodex cati)
    • Malassezia pachydermatis dermatitis
    • Zinc sensitive dermatosis
    • Pemphigus foliaceous

    The presence of secondary lesions, such as epidermal collarettes (circular lesions with peeling skin), hyperpigmentation due to inflammation, and scales, strongly lean the diagnosis towards pyoderma. It must always be verified with skin samples.

    To create a sample, the simplest method is to aspirate the content with a needle and perform a cytology. This way degenerated and non-degenerated neutrophils can be identified, as well as coccus-type bacteria (e.g. Staphyloccocus). This will make the diagnosis of pyoderma even more reliable. However, bacilli can also be seen, indicative of a pyoderma caused by E.coli, Pseudomonas or proteus spp.

    Bacterial culture and biochemical test gallery will determine the causative organism, mostly Staphylococcus intermedius, which is coagulase positive.

    The definitive diagnosis can be provided by a biopsy, after obtaining a sample of the lesions and sending it to the laboratory. There, a histopathology will reveal that it is feline pyoderma.

    Pyoderma in Cats - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment - Diagnosis of pyoderma in cats

    Treatment of feline pyoderma

    When the pyoderma is caused by bacterial proliferation, antibiotics will be required for treatment. However, this will be in addition to treatment of the underlying cause, whether it is due to allergies, endocrine diseases, parasites or others.

    The type of antibiotic treatment will vary depending on the bacteria that has been isolated. To do this, after the culture has been made, an antibiogram should be performed to know which correlating antibiotic is required. Adding topical antiseptic therapy, such as chlorhexidine or benzoyl peroxide, to systemic antibiotic treatment may also help.

    Antibiotics for pyoderma in cats

    In general, cocci like Staphylococcus intermedius are sensitive to antibiotics such as:

    • Clindamycin (5.5 mg/kg every 12 hours orally)
    • Cephalexin (15 mg/kg every 12 hours orally)
    • Amoxicillin/clavulanate (12.2 mg/kg every 12 hours orally)

    These antibiotics should be used for at least 3 weeks, with treatment lasting up to 7 days after the skin lesions resolve.

    Bacilli such as E.coli, Pseudomonas or proteus spp. are gram-negative bacteria and sensitive antibiotics should be used according to the antibiogram. An example that can be effective is enrofloxacin due to its activity against gram-negatives. In this case, it will also be used for 3 weeks and it will be necessary to wait 7 days after the disappearance of the clinical signs to stop the antibiotic treatment.

    Feline pyoderma prognosis

    Pyoderma in cats usually has a good prognosis if treatment is followed carefully and as long as the original cause is treated and controlled. If this cause is not controlled, the pyoderma will reappear, becoming increasingly complicated if the imbalances continue in our cat.

    This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

    If you want to read similar articles to Pyoderma in Cats - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment, we recommend you visit our Bacterial diseases category.

    • Guerrero, j. (2013). Pyoderma. Vetstreet. Available at:,%2C%20alergias%2C%20y%20desequilibrios%20hormonales.
    • Harvey, R. G., & McKeever, P. J. (2001). Illustrated manual of skin diseases in dogs and cats. Grass editions.
    • Harvey, A., & Tasker, S. (Eds). (2014). Feline Medicine Manual. Ed. Sastre Molina, SL L ́Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain.
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    Pyoderma in Cats - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment