Skin tags are small, soft, fleshy bumps that are found loosely hanging from the skin. They can be flesh-colored or a darker brown or black color. Similar to humans, skin tags on cats are harmless and benign. Usually small and often un-noticeable, they can, grow to the size of a grape.
What causes skin tags on cats
Skin tags are usually caused by the excess growth of skin cells that get trapped. There are a variety of reasons why these extra skin cells multiply.
- Skin friction – Friction and rubbing are usually the main reasons for skin tags to develop. Areas that experience a lot of friction or rubbing will usually be the most common areas to find skin tags.
- Genetics – Usually with felines we don’t know their family history, so without knowing, you can find skin tags developing and this could very well be just based on their genetics.
- Hormones –Hormone fluctuation can also lead to the growth of skin tags. Especially in pregnant cats.
- Diabetes – Cats with diabetes run a higher chance of developing some skin tags. Insulin resistance can lead to the skin developing bumps. If you notice a few skin tags forming, check with your vet to test your cat’s insulin levels.
- Old Age – As with humans, when your cat ages, it’s chances increase of developing skin tags.
Where do skin tags on cats develop
Due to friction being one of the main causes of skin tags, you will often find them in areas that get rubbed a lot, like between their legs and chest and around their eyes, ears, and lips. Cats who wear collars or have fleshy necks will sometimes have them on the neck too. The constant rubbing of the collar against their skin may cause a skin tag to form. Especially if they are a soft-haired cat, which doesn’t create as much of a barrier between the skin and the collar.
How do vets remove skin tags on cats
Vets have a number of methods at their disposal for removing skin tags, but also have very little reasons to use them. They will rarely remove skin tags from a cat unless it’s causing some sort of problem or getting irritated. If the skin tag is in an uncomfortable place, hindering the cat’s movement or senses at all, then the vet may be more inclined to remove it.
The methods they may use include:
Depending on the size and location of the skin tag, the vet may just choose to cut the skin tag with (sterilized) scissors. After anesthetizing the area, the vet will cleanly snip it off.
Cutting off the blood supply to a skin tag causes it to dry up and fall off. With the ligation method, this is what the vet does. Using thick, clean string, the vet ties it tightly around the base of the skin tag, cutting off the blood flow to it. After about a week or so, the skin tag and string will just fall off.
In the case of very large skin tags, the vet may sometimes opt to remove it under general anesthetic. It is a simple procedure whereby the vet anesthetizes the cat, removes the skin tag and puts in a couple of stitches. Your cat may have to wear a cone for a short while to ensure they don’t lick the stitches.
Using a heat tipped device, the vet would burn off the base of the skin tag causing it to fall off. This method is called cauterization. As you can imagine, this method isn’t well suited to cats and is probably one of the last options a vet would choose to remove skin tags on cats.
Another unpleasant method for felines and also rarely used, except in extenuating circumstances. With cryotherapy, the vet will use liquid nitrogen on the tip of a stick to freeze the skin tag, causing it to fall off.
Considering that cats don’t care about their cosmetic looks, and skin tags are harmless, it is usually best just to leave them be. If you are concerned or the skin tag is particularly large or uncomfortable for your cat, speak to your vet about what he recommends.
Can I remove my cat’s skin tags at home
There is rarely a reason to do it, but some people are worried their cat may scratch the skin tag off and cause it to get irritated. Cats are not the easiest pets to treat at home. Depending on the cat, and where the skin tag is, the ligation method would be the best method to use if you needed to remove your cat’s skin tag at home.
After cleaning and sterilizing the area, using some dental floss, tie it tightly around the base of the skin tag. It should be tight enough to cut off the blood supply. Keep checking it throughout the week to see if the skin tag has fallen off. Once it has fallen off, clean the area well to ensure there is no infection.