How to Get Rid of Hot Spots on Cats
What Is a Hot Spot?
A "hot spot" on your cat (or even on your dog) will look like an area of fur that is missing. It could be just a bald patch, or the bald patch could also resemble a lesion, with the skin broken and fluids oozing from the skin.
How do I know about this? It happened to my cat.
Hot Spot With Broken Skin
Hot Spot, Bald, Healing
Bald Hot Spot: Another Photo
According to my veterinarian, there are several possible causes for hot spots.
1. Diet Contains Too Much Starch/Carbohydrates
Check to see if you are feeding your cat a high quality cat food. If not, consider switching. One option is a grain-free diet. Grain-free pet food is readily available at most pet food stores—Natural Balance and Blue Buffalo Wilderness are two brands with grain-free options. The grain (corn, rice, etc.) in most cat food are carbs and can cause your pet to over-produce yeast.
Allergies could be food allergies (see #1 above), especially to wheat or grains, or could be just the brand of cat food you selected.
Allergies could also be from something in the house. Check your household cleaners, odor reducer sprinkled in the carpet, etc.
Also check your kitty litter. It's possible your cat is allergic to perfumes in the litter. Try a wheat or corn-based alternative, or any of the other perfume-free options available today.
As your pet ages, he or she is more susceptible to many ailments.
None of my cats ever had hot spots—until my oldest kitty was around 12 years old.
Miss Kitty With Hot Spot Under Arm
How to Get Rid of Hot Spots
Hot Spot (Lesion)
Hot Spot: Started Healing
Soft Cat Cone
Another View of Hot Spot, Mostly Healed
OK, so now you know a little more about hot spots and some things you can try to change to help get rid of them. But is there anything you can do right now to help heal your cat? Here are some options.
1. Take Your Cat to the Vet
Get advice and treatment from a professional. My veterinarian said that sometimes an all-raw diet helps cats get rid of hot spots, but it only works sometimes. And such a drastic diet change should be done gradually, since a cat's intestines are very sensitive. If you change your cat's diet too quickly, your cat could begin throwing up.
My vet also said that cortisone shots often clear up hot spots. Sometimes one shot does the trick, but other times it may take two to three, one every two weeks until it clears up. Be warned that cortisone is a steroid hormone and can have negative side effects, especially on older pets. There have been reports of pets going blind, becoming ill, or even dying after receiving a cortisone shot. Most pets will not experience any side-effects, and it may clear the hot spots right up. Just be sure you know the risks before allowing your pet to be given a cortisone shot.
2. Hot Spot Anti-itch Spray
Many pet stores carry anti-itch spray that will help relieve some of the discomfort of your cat while he or she heals. You will find that there are many more sprays for dogs than cats, so just ask a store helper to assist you in finding the right product if you cannot locate it yourself. The one I tried, which seemed to help, was PetRelief Anti-Itch Spray for Cats.
3. Homeopathic Remedy: HomeoPet Hot Spots
I used this on my cat when she had hot spots. It seemed to help tremendously. I also changed her diet and the cat litter, to try everything possible, but I do think this treatment made a huge difference.
Hot Spot Treatments
4. Pet Cone
I can't stress enough how much of a difference it can make to put a cone on your cat when trying to heal hot spots. Cats will often lick the site of infection, making it more raw and increasing the size of the hot spot. Blocking the cat from doing so with a cone will allow the hot spot to heal without being aggravated.
My story: My cat's hot spots seemed to be getting worse for a time, growing bigger and not healing. I noticed she was licking these spots quite frequently. So I got a cone, and put it on her. At first I tried a padded kind, the Comfy Cone Pet E-Collar, but it didn't look very comfortable. I already had the hard plastic kind from a previous vet visit, but those weren't my favorite either. So I tried a "soft" collar cone, the ElizaSoft Recovery Collar, and that one ended up being my favorite. It was flexible, so my kitty could still squeeze between legs, while it still kept her from licking the spots. The only thing I didn't like was that it has a fixed-size opening for the kitty's head, so you have to slide it over the cat's head. After that, it's easy because it's a drawstring tie, so you can get it as tight as needed.
One tip: Double knot the tie. My cat scratched at the cone and somehow managed to untie the bow, and get out of the cone. After I double-knotted the bow, that didn't happen anymore.
Only bad thing: Although I do really like this pet collar, it doesn't wear well after a lot of scratching from a cat. My kitty kept scratching her ears, and scratching the cone. The drawstring started shredding, and so did the collar. It still works, but it will probably need to be replaced after my kitty wears it for a month. Still, to me, it's worth it, because it's comfortable for my cat.
After using the cone and treating her with HomeoPet's Hot Spot for several days, everything really started turning around. The biggest hot spot under her arm, which was about five inches across, started drying up, the icky stuff came off, and then it was just bare skin. What an improvement! I decided to give my kitty a break from the cone and took it off for one day and night. After that, it was oozing icky stuff again just from her licking it too much. So back on the cone went. And once again, after having the cone on for several days and treatment, we're back to just bald again with no oozing. This time, she is keeping it on until fully healed.
Miss Kitty in Her Comfy Cone
Soft Pet Collar
The collar Miss Kitty is wearing.
Just a quick update–it's been several months since I first posted this article. Miss Kitty's hot spots healed up completely with the use of the cone. I didn't remove the cone until the hot spots had disappeared entirely, and her fur had started growing back in. That did the trick! I'm so happy to report that she has not had any hot spots for a couple of months now!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.