A healthy animal has smooth, pliable skin which will have no excessive scaling, scabs, foul-smelling secretions, or parasites. Depending on the breed, the skin will range from pale pink to medium brown to black. Some cats may even have spotted skin. Once a week, take a thorough look at your cat's skin, also known as epidermis. If you discover any unexplained changes, including sores, flakiness, abraded spots, or any type of growth, call your veterinarian. Many skin problems are easily explainable. Maybe your cat was scratched by another cat or tore a bit of skin trying to clear a fence. Other conditions can be caused by anything from a bacterial infection to a change of diet, or environmental contaminants and parasites.
One or more ball-like lumps on or under the skin may be present, most likely located on the head, neck, or back. A single growth can range from pea-sized to bigger than a golf ball, and it can be moved with the skin. Your cat might have one of several types of skin or sebaceous gland enlargements or tumors. Skin growths are usually above the skin, whereas sebaceous and fatty growths, i.e. lipomas, are under the skin. All these growths are quite common among adult cats and are usually benign, but not always.
Because you have no way of knowing what type of tumor your cat has or whether it's benign or malignant, your pet must be taken to the vet, who may lance, aspirate, or remove the mass and analyze its content by sending the growth to a pathologist. If it is a cyst or a tumor, the slides will reveal whether it is malignant or benign. If the lump turns out to be a sebaceous cyst, it is usually lanced, cleaned, and chemically cauterized rather than surgically removed. Antibiotics are infused at the time of lancing, and generally are not required as part of follow up care. Home care includes cleaning the incision twice a day, then returning to the vet in 10 days to have the stitches removed.