Bacterial Infection (Pyoderma) of the Skin in Cats

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: January 19, 2009
Bacterial Infection (Pyoderma) of the Skin in Cats

Pyoderma in Cats

When a cat's skin is cut or wounded, there is an increased risk of infection. Pyoderma refers to a bacterial infection of the skin that is generally uncommon in cats. Lesions and pustules (inflamed pus-filled swelling) on the skin, and in some cases partial hair loss, often characterize the infection. Treatment is typically given on an outpatient basis and prognosis is good.

The condition described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn how pyoderma affects dogs, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

  • Alopecia
  • Itchiness
  • Small, raised lesions
  • Pustule(s)
  • Crusted skin
  • Dried discharge in affected area

The infection can occur on the superficial layers of the cat's skin, or if there is a deep laceration, in the inner folds of the skin. The latter infection is referred to as deep pyoderma.


While this bacterial infection can occur in any cat breed, there are a few types that are predisposed to developing pyoderma, including those with:

  • Short coats
  • Skin folds
  • Pressure calluses
  • Pasturella multocida

Cats have a higher risk of developing an infection when they have a fungal infection or an endocrine disease such as hyperthyroidism, or have allergies to fleas, food ingredients, or parasites such as Demodex.


In most cases, the condition will be examined on a superficial basis and treated accordingly. In the event that the pyoderma appears to be deeper in the cat's skin, skin scrapings, skin biopsies and an examination of bacterial cells (smear) may be performed to see if the condition is a result of a more serious underlying medical condition.


The infection typically responds favorably to medical treatment. Treatment is generally done on an outpatient basis and will involve external (topical) medications, as well as antibiotics for the infection.

An antibiotic treatment regimen is generally prescribed for more than a month to ensure that the entire infection is eliminated from the cat's system, which should also reduce the incidence of recurrence.

Living and Management

There is the possible complication of bacteria spreading into the blood, so it is important to observe the cat's recovery time and to notify the veterinarian in the event that other symptoms develop or the condition worsens.


Routine bathing of the cat’s wounds in benzoyl peroxide or other medicated shampoos can reduce the incidence of infection initially, and will help after to prevent recurrence.

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