Skin Lumps and Bumps on Cats – to Worry or Not?


Every cat owner knows the joy of running their hands through their pet’s soft, silky fur. However, discovering unexpected skin lumps and bumps on cats can be distressing to the owners.

Understanding Skin Lumps and Bumps on Cats

Skin lumps and bumps on cats are not rare. As a pet owner, you may have already encountered this. This is why understanding them is of utmost importance. Is it a simple bug bite or something more serious like a tumor?

Decoding these lumps and bumps is a critical part of ensuring your feline friend’s health.

Identifying Lumps and Bumps: What Are They?

To effectively identify skin lumps and bumps on cats, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the most common types. It could be cysts, abscesses, allergic reactions, or even cancerous tumors.

Common Regions on a Cat’s Body Where Lumps and Bumps Can Appear

Lumps and bumps on cats can appear anywhere on their bodies, but there are some areas where they are commonly found:

  • Ears: Lumps can appear on or in the ears due to various causes like abscesses, cysts, or cancerous growths. White or light-colored cats are particularly susceptible to developing squamous cell carcinoma in their ears due to sun exposure.
  • Mouth: Lumps inside a cat’s mouth can be due to dental disease, oral infections, or oral cancer. Regularly checking your cat’s teeth and gums can help catch these issues early.
  • Neck: Lumps can appear on the neck as a result of enlarged lymph nodes, abscesses, or thyroid issues.
  • Back and Body: Fatty tumors, or lipomas, are common in this area, especially in overweight cats. Other types of benign or malignant growths can also occur.
  • Tail: As we’ve discussed before, lumps can appear on the tail due to injury, infection, cysts, or tumors.
  • Feet and Legs: Lumps can appear on the feet and legs, often due to injuries, abscesses, or insect bites. Certain types of cancerous growths can also appear in these areas.

Remember, any new lump or bump on your cat warrants attention. Regular petting and grooming of your cat can help you discover any anomalies early on, and prompt veterinary attention can ensure the most effective treatment.

Understanding Different Types of Skin Lumps and Bumps on Cats

Understanding the most common types of skin lumps on cats can be your first step toward ensuring your pet’s well-being. Below, we elaborate on the different types of feline lumps.


  • Description: Cysts on cats are small, fluid-filled bumps that can appear anywhere on their skin. They often seem innocuous, showing no immediate signs of discomfort in the cat.
  • Causes: Cysts can be caused by blocked hair follicles, sebaceous gland problems, or even trauma to the skin.
  • Symptoms: They are generally soft and movable under the skin. You might notice your cat excessively licking or scratching the area if the cyst is causing discomfort.
  • Risk: While they often appear harmless, untreated cysts carry the risk of infection. If a cyst ruptures, it can lead to an abscess, a more serious skin condition.
  • Treatment: The treatment usually involves draining the fluid and, in some cases, surgically removing the cyst. It’s important to note that only a veterinarian should perform these procedures to avoid complications.


  • Description: Unlike cysts, abscesses are a more immediate concern. They are localized collections of pus that form a firm lump under the cat’s skin.
  • Causes: Abscesses result from a bacterial infection, usually due to a bite or scratch from another animal. Bacteria enter through the wound and proliferate, leading to pus accumulation.
  • Symptoms: Abscesses are often painful to the touch and may cause your cat to become lethargic or lose appetite. The skin over the abscess might be warm and red, and the area might ooze pus or have a bad smell.
  • Risk: If left untreated, abscesses can lead to systemic infection, becoming a life-threatening situation for your cat.
  • Treatment: Treatment typically involves draining the abscess and administering antibiotics to fight the infection. Pain management is also a key part of the treatment plan.

Fatty Tumors or Lipomas

  • Description: Lipomas, commonly referred to as fatty tumors, are benign growths that predominantly consist of fat cells. They appear as soft, pliable lumps under the cat’s skin and are typically not attached to the underlying tissue.
  • Causes: The exact cause of lipomas in cats is not fully understood. They’re more commonly observed in middle-aged to older cats. Overweight cats may be more prone to developing these fatty tumors, but lipomas can occur in cats of any age or weight.
  • Symptoms: Lipomas often don’t cause any discomfort or harm to the cat unless they grow large enough to hinder movement or press on a nerve. In most cases, your cat may not show any signs of discomfort or change in behavior.
  • Risk: Although benign, lipomas should not be ignored. If they grow too large or occur in a location that interferes with your cat’s mobility or bodily functions, they may need to be removed. Rarely, a type of lipoma known as an infiltrative lipoma can invade surrounding tissues, making removal more challenging.
  • Treatment: Treatment options are determined based on the lipoma’s size and location, as well as the overall health of the cat. Small lipomas that don’t impact the cat’s quality of life may simply be monitored for changes. However, larger lipomas, or those growing in problematic locations, may need surgical removal. The removed lipoma should be biopsied to confirm it is benign and to rule out a more serious condition called liposarcoma.

Cancerous Tumors

Description: Cancerous tumors, or malignant growths, are a serious concern for cat owners. Unlike benign tumors, these growths have the potential to spread to other parts of the body, damaging healthy tissues in their path.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • Description: Squamous cell carcinoma is one of the most common types of skin cancer in cats. It typically presents as a hard, crusty, or ulcerated lump, often on areas with less fur such as the nose, ears, or eyelids.
  • Causes: Prolonged sun exposure is a significant risk factor, making white or light-colored cats more susceptible.
  • Symptoms: Symptoms may include open sores that don’t heal, chronic skin inflammation, and loss of appetite or weight in advanced stages.
  • Treatment: Treatment typically involves surgical removal, and in some cases, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be recommended.

Mast Cell Tumors

  • Description: Mast cell tumors (MCTs) are another common type of skin cancer in cats. They can vary widely in appearance, sometimes resembling benign bumps or insect bites.
  • Causes: The exact cause is unknown, but genetic factors may play a role.
  • Symptoms: MCTs can appear anywhere on the body and may be accompanied by itching, redness, and swelling. The tumors can fluctuate in size.
  • Treatment: Surgical removal is the primary treatment, with additional treatments like radiation or chemotherapy being considered based on the tumor’s severity and location.


  • Description: Fibrosarcomas are malignant tumors that arise from the fibrous connective tissue. These tumors are aggressive and often recur after removal.
  • Causes: While the exact cause remains unclear, chronic inflammation or injury to the site is often associated with these tumors. There was a link between fibrosarcomas and vaccines, but this is considered rare with modern vaccination practices.
  • Symptoms: Fibrosarcomas often present as firm, fixed lumps under the cat’s skin. As the tumor grows, it can lead to discomfort and reduced mobility.
  • Treatment: Wide surgical removal is the mainstay of treatment, often combined with radiation therapy to reduce the chance of recurrence.


  • Description: Yes, cats can get acne too! Feline acne is a common skin condition that manifests as small, black, dirt-like spots on the chin or around the lips. Read our detailed article on how to differentiate between feline acne and Lentigo.
  • Causes: It’s often associated with plastic food and water dishes, which can harbor bacteria. Hormonal imbalances or stress might also contribute to the development of feline acne.
  • Symptoms: The most noticeable sign is the presence of blackheads or pimples. In severe cases, these can become swollen and painful, possibly leading to abscesses.
  • Treatment: Depending on the severity, treatments can range from topical creams to antibiotics or even medicated shampoos.


  • Description: Ticks are external parasites that latch onto your cat’s skin, feeding on their blood. They can cause discomfort and may transmit diseases.
  • Causes: Cats usually get ticks from infested environments like tall grasses, bushes, or woods.
  • Symptoms: You might spot the tick itself, appearing as a small, dark lump on your cat’s skin. Areas where ticks commonly attach include the head, neck, ears, and feet.
  • Treatment: Removing the tick is essential to prevent disease transmission. Always use tweezers and pull straight out to ensure you remove the entire tick, including its head. For more details, read our complete guide on how to safely remove ticks from your cat.

Bug Bites

  • Description: Cats can fall victim to a variety of insect bites and stings, including fleas, mosquitoes, spiders, and bees.
  • Causes: This often happens during outdoor adventures or through contact with infested animals or environments.
  • Symptoms: Depending on the insect, reactions can range from minor irritation, redness, and swelling to more severe symptoms like vomiting, difficulty breathing, or lethargy.
  • Treatment: For minor reactions, a cold compress and over-the-counter treatments can provide relief. For severe reactions, or if you suspect a venomous bite or sting, consult a veterinarian immediately.

Understanding these different skin anomalies and their implications for your cat’s health is crucial.

Spotting a lump or bump on your cat’s skin may be alarming, but remember, many of these growths are benign and can be effectively managed or treated with timely veterinary intervention.

By paying attention to your cat’s behavior and routinely checking its skin and fur, you can catch these issues early and seek appropriate treatment.

Prevention is key, so ensuring your home and pet are flea and tick-free, and providing suitable food and water dishes can help minimize the risk of skin lumps and bumps on cats.

Diagnosis of Feline Skin Lumps

Upon discovering skin lumps and bumps on your cat, a trip to the vet is in order. The vet will likely perform a procedure known as a fine-needle aspiration. This involves drawing cells from the lump to be studied under a microscope.

Treatment Options for Skin Lumps on Cats

Treatment for skin lumps and bumps on cats varies depending on the cause.

Abscesses may require drainage and antibiotics, while cysts may need to be surgically removed.

For malignant lumps, a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation may be necessary.

Acne can be effectively managed by the use of topical cream and in severe cases, your veterinarian may prescribe a dose of antibiotics for your cat.

Ticks can be managed by regularly checking and removing the ticks and also by the use of anti-tick collars and lotions.

For bug bites, over-the-counter treatments are enough but if you suspect a poisonous bite, then consult a veterinarian immediately.

Can We Prevent Skin Lumps and Bumps on Cats?

While it’s impossible to prevent all skin lumps and bumps on cats, certain measures can be taken. Regular grooming and check-ups can help identify issues early. Keeping your cat indoors can also reduce the risk of injuries that may lead to abscesses.

Can Increasing Water Intake Help with Skin Lumps and Bumps on Cats?

Increasing water intake is widely believed to help with skin lumps and bumps on cats. A simple and effective way to achieve this is by implementing tips to make cats drink more water. For instance, placing multiple water bowls in different locations, using a pet water fountain, or adding flavored water or broth to their daily diet. These strategies can encourage cats to stay hydrated and potentially improve their skin health.

Emotional Impact of Skin Lumps on Cats and Owners

Lastly, it’s important to acknowledge the emotional impact that skin lumps and bumps on cats can have on owners. It’s okay to be scared. But remember, your vet is there to guide you and your feline friend through this.

While skin lumps and bumps on cats can be worrying, remember that they’re often manageable with the right treatment.

So, the next time you spot one, instead of panicking, take a deep breath and contact your vet. Your furry friend is counting on you.

Frequently Asked Questions

My cat has a small lump under its skin, but it doesn’t seem bothered by it. Should I still go to the vet?

Yes, it’s always advisable to consult your vet when you discover a lump, even if your cat doesn’t seem to be in discomfort. While the lump could be benign, it could also be an early stage of a more serious condition. Early detection is key in effectively managing and treating potential health issues.

Can diet affect the development of skin lumps and bumps on my cat?

While there’s no direct link between diet and most skin lumps and bumps, maintaining a balanced diet contributes to overall skin health and a strong immune system. Some skin conditions may also be related to food allergies, so if you notice any changes in your cat’s skin after a diet change, it’s worth discussing with your vet.

Can regular grooming help in the early detection of skin lumps and bumps on cats?

Absolutely! Regular grooming not only keeps your cat’s coat looking its best but also allows you to feel for any unusual lumps, bumps, or skin changes that might have gone unnoticed. It’s an excellent way to stay proactive about your cat’s health.

My cat had a lump removed, but it has come back. What should I do?

The reoccurrence of a lump can be concerning, and it should be addressed with your vet as soon as possible. The lump could be benign, like a lipoma, which can regrow, or it could be a more aggressive tumor that requires additional treatment.

Are some cat breeds more prone to skin lumps and bumps?

While skin lumps and bumps can occur in any cat, certain breeds may be more prone to specific types of skin conditions due to genetic predispositions. For example, white cats or cats with light-colored fur are more susceptible to sun-induced skin cancer. Always consult your vet for breed-specific advice.

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