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If you’ve noticed a black scab on your cat’s anus you will understandably wonder what this means, and whether or not you need to be concerned.
This article will explain the most common causes of a black scab on the anus of a feline patient, as well as help you decide if you need to book a visit with your vet.
What Does The Black Scab On Cats’ Anus Mean?
Seeing a black scab around your cat’s anus can be disturbing and get you worried. Due to your worry, you may now wonder what are the possible reasons why a black scab has formed around that part of your cat’s body.
1. Harmless Pigmentation
The great news is that perhaps most frequently, upon closer examination, a black scab on the anus will turn out not to be a scab at all. Still, rather a harmless pigmentation (kind of like kitty freckles!), and in this instance, there is nothing to be concerned about, and no treatment is required.
These black pigmentation patches can appear as single, solitary dots or maybe a cluster or sprinkling of black speckles on your cat’s anus. A vet can closely assess the anal skin in the consulting room and let you know whether the black scab-like patches are likely to be pigmentation or not.
If there is any doubt, they may discuss taking a small skin biopsy (tissue sample taken surgically from the affected area) to confirm that there is nothing to worry about. If a skin biopsy is required, this will need to be taken under general anesthetic.
Pigmentation on and around the anal skin may be present from birth in some individuals or may develop with age or sun exposure, especially on cats with pale skin and/or white fur.
2. A Scratch
Cats are highly intelligent animals, but sometimes you might assume otherwise, especially when they decide to take a toilet break in an uninviting, thorny patch of weeds!
If your cat prefers the great outdoors over their litter tray, it may have recently squatted somewhere less optimal than expected and ended up with a scratch to its anal skin.
A black scab may form over the affected area as this scratch heals. Sometimes, this scab can be itchy as it heals, causing your pet to rub its rear end on the floor or (more commonly in cats) to lick excessively at the area.
So long as it appears to be getting better rather than worse (i.e., becoming increasingly smaller and drier as it heals), there may not be any need to book a vet visit. The two-week mark should completely heal the scab; if it isn’t, a check-up is warranted.
3. Anal Skin Tear From Straining To Poop
Sometimes, a cat suffering from constipation will strain so hard that a small tear in the anal skin will occur, and of course, this will then form a scab as part of the body’s normal, natural healing process.
Be sure to stay vigilant for signs of constipation in your feline family member, such as spending excessive time in the litter tray and passing dry, firm, or hard feces (typically small amounts at a time).
If signs of constipation are present, take it as an incentive to assess your kitty’s diet; feeding dry kibble rather than ‘wet’ meaty foods with higher water content is a very common risk factor for constipation, and simply switching from dry to wet food can allow constipation to resolve in many instances.
Ensure too that fresh, clean drinking water is always available. Consider adding a water fountain-style cat drinker bowl to the household, as many cats prefer running water and will drink significantly more (thus staying better hydrated) when a water fountain bowl is on offer.
Finally, if the constipation is not resolving, speak to your vet and request a gentle laxative such as lactulose which may be given safely to the vast majority of feline patients for the symptomatic relief of constipation.
And of course, just like with any anal scab, be sure to monitor the area closely for 1-2 weeks to check the skin usually heals within an expected timeframe.
This may sound obvious, but it is worth checking that it is a scab that is present rather than, for example, a spot of dirt stuck to the skin. This can potentially allow you to avoid an expensive and unnecessary vet consultation.
You can check whether the black scab might actually be dirt by taking a piece of clean paper towel or a clean flannel, wetting it a little under the tap, and then gently rubbing it on the affected area.
If the scab is gone and the skin now appears completely normal once you have done this, then you can be sure it was not a scab to begin with, but in fact just a spot of dirt! In this case, of course, no treatment is required.
5. Tick Bites
One of the less common causes of a black scab on or near the anus in cats is a tick bite. Ticks are blood-sucking, flightless insects that can bite your pet anywhere on its body, leaving behind a small hole in the skin that quickly scabs over.
The skin around the area may initially appear swollen, red, or angry (known as a “tick bite reaction”), and the scab that eventually forms over the site may be red, brown, or black in color.
Ticks are more common in some geographical regions and at certain times of the year. Your local vet can advise whether you live in an at-risk area, and which seasons present the greatest risk in your region.
Crucially, they can also provide parasite-protective medication, which can be administered (usually as a spot-on) to prevent future tick bites. If the skin around the scab appears red, swollen, or angry, then don’t delay a vet visit, as your pet may be experiencing a more significant reaction to the tick bite.
However, if the skin around the scab appears normal and is not inflamed, you can monitor the area as previously discussed and seek medical attention only if needed at the two-week mark.
6. Melanoma Or Other Skin Tumor
Unfortunately, in fairly rare instances, a black scab on the anal skin will be due to skin cancer in cats. This may be a melanoma or a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), or even more rarely feline cutaneous lymphoma.
These conditions are not typical, and when they do strike, they tend to affect older, geriatric cats.
Some types of skin cancer will be itchy, causing your pet to lick or rub at the anus excessively, and others will not be itchy but will appear as a red, pink, or black scabby area that fails to heal.
Some may bleed, either of their own accord or due to interference from the cat.
As previously mentioned, with any black scab on the anus a sensible first step is to closely monitor the scab for 1-2 weeks and seek veterinary attention if it has not completely healed at the two-week mark.
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