Warts and other lumps can be a scary thing to find on your cat. These are more common in older cats but can happen at any age. In cats, more than 50% of skin tumours are cancerous, so a vet check is always recommended.
There are different types of skin growths that can look like warts in cats. Like with many other species, a common cause is a papillomavirus. Sadly, in cats, the body doesn’t often clear the growth, and in many cases, it will become cancerous over time. Early treatment is more likely to work, and surgery is the best option currently available.
Where do warts on cats come from?
Warts can be caused by a virus or by skin cells growing abnormally. Cats can also get many different types of skin growths. These can come from normal skin cells growing out of control and losing their normal function. They should always be checked by a vet.
What do warts look like?
Warts on the skin can look like:
- Extra skin growing out
- An irregular disk on the skin
- A crusty bit of skin
Other symptoms can be associated with the wart:
- Redness of the nearby skin
- Itching or tenderness
- Weight loss
Cats at higher risk of developing warts
White or hairless cats are at higher risk for skin tumours, especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun. This is especially true for cancerous tumours.
Can I catch or pass warts to my cat?
Despite many species having warts caused by papillomavirus, each virus will usually only cause them in a specific species. A papillomavirus from a cat cannot grow on human skin, and vice-versa. They can be contagious to other cats but this doesn’t happen often.
Diagnosis of skin warts in cats
You can’t tell what a skin lump is just from how it looks, but irregular, irritated and fast-growing lumps are more concerning
Scratching a small sample from a lump using a needle, called a fine needle aspirate, is often useful. However, it may provide limited information and does not work at all for some lumps
A final diagnosis requires a biopsy. This is where a part, or all, of the lump is removed during surgery and sent to the lab for analysis
Other tests (x-rays, ultrasound, and immunofluorescence) may be needed if cancer is suspected.
Treatment of warts
Surgery may be the only treatment needed if the lump is not cancerous or is caught early
Other treatment options (Radiotherapy or Chemotherapy) depend on the exact type of tumour present.
If the wart looks sore, gentle cleaning and a mild antiseptic may help prevent infection while you wait to see the vet.
Can I treat my cat’s wart at home?
As previously mentioned, many warts and skin growths in cats will be cancerous. You should not delay veterinary treatment. Trying to remove these at home may cause your cat unnecessary suffering, infection or even help the tumour spread.
When to worry
When to worry about a wart on your cat
Always have skin growths on your cat checked by a vet, most likely, they will need to be tested.
Seek help from a vet if your cat has a wart that:
- has grown very quickly
- Is bleeding
- Is painful
Joii can help if:
- You found a lump on your cat’s skin and want to have it checked
- You are worried about your cat’s warts and want to discuss options
- Your cat’s wart is causing your cat to be mildly uncomfortable