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Scabs on cat's ears.

Species: Cat
Breed: Domestic Short Hair
Age: 2-5 years
Our cat has spots on her ears that look like bites or sores. We have had her to the vet three times for this (twice to the same vet and last month I went to a different one for a second opinion). No one knows what the spots are. They have ruled out parasites. Both vets treated her with a steroid and antibiotic. The spots did clear up (the first time for several months) but they came back. The second time the spots were back within two weeks. She eats good quality (grain free) food. Any ideas? I do have a picture I can send if you want. Thank you!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry to hear that Chloe has these mystery spots.

The most common reason that I have seen for a cat to get spots on their ears is some type of allergy. And, quite often, we don't find the cause of the allergy. If you live in an area with mosquitos it could be a mosquito bite hypersensitivity which is essentially an allergy to mosquito bites. But there are many, many other things that can cause an allergy as well. While a food allergy is possible this is actually not all that common.

Allergies often will get better with steroids, so this could be an explanation.

It's also possible that this is an autoimmune condition like pemphigus. Again, steroids can often help. But pemphigus can get to the point where regular doses of steroids are not strong enough and stronger doses may be necessary.

A strong possibility is that this is a type of an eosinophilic plaque which really is a type of allergy but we don't really know what causes it. These are usually treated with steroids but it's not uncommon for a cat to need more steroids a few weeks after the first dose is given.

The problem here is that at this point there is no simple test that will give you an answer. The best thing that you could have done is to ask your vet about having a biopsy done. This is where they take some skin and send it to a pathologist to find out what the cause is.

I do see several conditions like this in cats that do require a small dose of steroids given either daily or every other day long term.

I hope things are better soon!

Dr. Marie


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.