Miliary Dermatitis In Cats? What You Need to Know

Miliary Dermatitis In Cats

Last Updated on August 11, 2023 by Fumipets

Miliary Dermatitis in Cats: A Concise Overview


Miliary dermatitis is a common skin condition in cats characterized by small, red, and raised bumps resembling millet seeds, hence the name. It’s often a result of allergic reactions or underlying skin issues.

Cats affected by miliary dermatitis may exhibit itching, scratching, and discomfort, making it essential to address the condition promptly for your feline friend’s well-being.

Even though it’s not very enjoyable, this is something every cat parent should be aware of. Symptoms of miliary dermatitis in cats include licking or scratching themselves excessively and a crusty red rash. If you’re acquainted with the ailment known as “hot spots,” it is something similar to that. But don’t worry—it can be fixed.

What Is Feline Miliary Dermatitis?

A number of allergens may trigger miliary dermatitis, often known as scabby cat illness, an allergic skin response. A systemic response to one or more allergens, to which your cat is both exposed and susceptible, is what causes the inflammation.

When a rash appears, cats may lick, bite, or scratch it. This may result in painful sores with scabs. The crusty lesions resemble scattered millet seeds, thus the name “miliary” employed here. The word “dermatitis” refers to skin irritation.

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What Causes Feline Miliary Dermatitis?

Mild dermatitis is a symptom of a deeper issue, generally an allergy. According to Christine Sellers, DVM, veterinary adviser for Cat Person, “flea allergies are the most typical cause of miliary dermatitis in cats.

Additionally, seasonal allergies, food allergies, skin parasites (such as mange or ear mites), autoimmune illnesses, and environmental allergies (pollens, home dust mites or storage mites, molds, and other pets) may all contribute to it. Other potential reasons include adverse medication responses, dietary deficits, and bacterial, viral, or yeast infections.

Signs of Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

When you touch your cat, mild dermatitis could be easier to feel than to see. Consult your veterinarian as soon as possible if you observe any of these symptoms, since your feline buddy may have miliary dermatitis or another skin condition:

Red, crusty rash or pimple-like wounds (usually around the neck, head, flanks, belly, and/or back)

  • Frequent scratching
  • Lesions and scabs because of scratching
  • Excessive licking and over-grooming
  • Thinning of the cat’s coat in certain areas

Is Miliary Dermatitis in Cats Contagious?

Humans, other cats, and other animals are not susceptible to catching feline miliary dermatitis. However, if a fungus, parasite, or bacterium is the actual cause, they may spread to both humans and animals. It is always advised to take your cat in person to the vet if you discover that they are unhappy or have unusual skin.

Feline Miliary Dermatitis Treatment Options

Depending on the underlying reason, there are many military dermatitis treatments for cats. To determine the source of your cat’s skin problems, your veterinarian will do an examination and may need to order a number of tests.

Antihistamines and essential fatty acids (EFAs) are often used to treat itchy cats initially. The source of the allergy is the focus of further therapy.

Based on the reason why your cat was having an allergic reaction, sellers gave the following advice:


Use a monthly flea preventive your veterinarian recommends to effectively manage fleas. Revolution is a topical treatment that also kills mites, thus it will help cure the cat’s sensitivity to home dust mites or storage mites.

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Veterinarian-prescribed medicine may be used to treat your cat’s miliary dermatitis if parasites, mange, or fungus are the cause. Treatments used topically or orally may be included.

Food Allergies

Food allergies often result in inflammation and excessive grooming of the face, eye region, neck, lower belly, and inguinal area. Your veterinarian may test for food allergies and remove the problematic protein sources from the diet, or you can try an exclusion diet for a few weeks or months.

Depending on your cat’s specific requirements, your veterinarian may also suggest a hypoallergenic food or a hydrolyzed protein diet. However, always talk to your veterinarian before making any dietary changes for your cat on your own.

Environmental Allergens

Inflammation of the inner thighs, belly, chest, inner forelegs, neck, and lips may be brought on by inhalant and pollen allergies. Your veterinarian may recommend a steroid, immunosuppressive medication, or immunotherapy (allergy injections) to treat this kind of allergen if antihistamines and EFAs are ineffective.

Autoimmune Disease

Nail beds, nipples, the area around the eyes, and the ear margins may become inflamed as a result of autoimmune diseases. These kinds of illnesses are often treated with steroids or immunosuppressive medications.


Your cat’s miliary dermatitis may be treated with the right medicine suggested by your veterinarian if viruses, yeast/fungi, or bacteria are to blame. Multiple topical and oral drugs are often used for this.

What’s the Prognosis for Cats with Miliary Dermatitis?

The skin issue may usually be treated after the allergen to which the cat is allergic is eliminated. Naturally, certain allergens are almost hard to eradicate from your cat’s surroundings, and miliary dermatitis may return. To effectively tackle the many allergies and provide comfort for your pet, it often requires a mix of therapy. It could also need several follow-up trips to the vet.

3 Common Myths for Cat Parents to Consider

Sellers claim she often observes cat owners who erroneously hold to these widespread misconceptions. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to change your mind and provide the greatest care for your cat.

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1. “My cat is indoors so she can’t have pollen allergies.”

Because of the concentration of allergens in a confined space, environmental allergies, particularly those caused by pollens, are actually worse inside. They often enter our homes via windows, doors, and even on our clothes and shoes.

To keep the people in your house breathing better, try installing an air purifier to remove allergies and bothersome pet dander.

2. “My cat can’t have fleas because he is indoors.”

Nope, even if a pet is using a flea preventive, fleas may still enter a house or apartment on a person’s clothes or by another animal that goes outside. Your cat may have fleas without you even knowing it because of meticulous grooming.

3. “My cat must not have allergies because he isn’t sneezing.”

Not so. Sneezing is not the sole sign of an allergic reaction in cats, just as it is in people. Actually, rather than having respiratory consequences, allergies in cats are more likely to result in a rash or itchy skin.

Consult your veterinarian for advice on treating feline miliary dermatitis (or any other pet health issue) to help your cat feel better. To stop this problem from recurring, it’s also advisable to adhere to your veterinarian’s advice for other treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions 


What causes miliary dermatitis in cats?

Miliary dermatitis can be triggered by various factors, including flea infestations, food allergies, environmental allergens like pollen, and even parasites like mites.

How can I recognize miliary dermatitis in my cat?

Look for small, raised red bumps on your cat’s skin, particularly around the neck, back, and base of the tail. Cats may exhibit excessive scratching, grooming, and restlessness.

How is miliary dermatitis diagnosed?

A veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination of your cat’s skin and may perform tests to rule out underlying causes. These could include skin scrapings, blood tests, and allergy tests.

What are the treatment options for miliary dermatitis?

Treatment depends on the underlying cause. If fleas are the issue, flea control is crucial. If allergies are suspected, identifying and removing allergens from the environment or changing the diet might be necessary. Medications like antihistamines or corticosteroids may also be prescribed to alleviate itching and inflammation.

Can miliary dermatitis be prevented?

A5: Preventing miliary dermatitis involves addressing potential triggers. Regular flea control and keeping your cat’s living environment clean can help. If your cat has known allergies, working with your vet to manage them can reduce the risk of outbreaks.



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