Health & Care
An orange and white cat lying on the floor, looking sick.

Cat Warts and All — What to Know

Cats can get warts but it’s important to be able to correctly identify cat warts and seek appropriate treatment for them. Here’s what to know.

Denise LeBeau  |  Jun 14th 2019


Most commonly associated with witches and toads, the reality is that warts can afflict several species including humans and cats. Cat warts, which appear as an abnormality of the skin on your cat, can be confused with other lumps and masses. While not necessarily dangerous, they do need medical attention if the lump lingers. Here’s what you need to know about cat warts!

Is that lump a cat wart — or something else?

A closeup of a surprised cat with his ears back.

First, let’s determine if what you’re seeing is a cat wart … or something else. Photography © perets | E+ / Getty Images.

Finding a lump on your cat is a fairly common occurrence. Bug bites, fatty tumors and abscesses are the usual culprits. Less frequently the lump, or a raised scaly abnormal area on the skin, can be a wart. Cat warts, like all warts, stem from one of the papilloma viruses. The virus is ubiquitous but manifesting physical symptoms is not always the case.

Identifying cat warts

If you find an abnormality on your cat’s skin it’s important to monitor it for a few days. Your cat’s immune system may fight it off. However, if any skin abnormality persists, your cat needs to go to the veterinarian.

A conclusive diagnosis includes a biopsy of the lesion. If the wart doesn’t subside by itself it should be removed because it can become cancerous.

How do cat warts happen?

Cats contract the papilloma viruses through direct contact from another animal or the pet’s environment — bedding, bowls and toys, etc.

Important facts about cat warts

While cat warts are rare, they do occur. As with any medical issue, there are a few important factors to keep in mind!

  1. You will not get warts from your cat. The virus is most frequently species specific. It is also more specific to certain areas — people for example cannot spread a planter’s wart found on the foot to the face!
  2. Cats with compromised immune systems are most at risk. Very young cats, older cats, cats with FIV and/or FeLV are more susceptible to the papilloma virus and subsequently, cat warts.
  3. Secondary complications: Infections. Keeping your cat from scratching, biting and licking the wart prevents further infection.
  4. Keeping your cat’s environment contaminant free. If your cat is diagnosed with cat warts, change the things he physically comes in contact with — to be on the safe side get new bowls, bedding, litter boxes, etc.
  5. Cat warts can be found anywhere on your cat. In addition to his body, cat warts can be found inside his mouth. It’s always important to do a check everywhere on your cat periodically to ensure there are no issues popping up! Trouble eating and bad breath can be telltale signs that something is amiss.

Treating cat warts

According to the European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases, there is no specified treatment to permanently cure cat warts. However, if a lesion persists, depending on the location, removing it is the best course of action. This is not something that you can do at home! Do not try to remove cat warts with any human-based over-the-counter wart medications. Your cat needs to have the wart removed by your veterinarian. He needs to be anesthetized, so the procedure often requires an overnight stay at the vet’s office.

Reducing the risks when it comes to cat warts

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! There are few best practices to ensure your cat is free of any worrisome warts.

  1. Keep your kitty indoors. The best way to keep your cat safe from any medical complications like cat warts is to keep him inside. Cats allowed to free-roam are exponentially more prone to injuries and illnesses.
  2. Make sure your cat has a healthy immune system. As with any illnesses — a healthy immune system is the best line of defense against medical complications. Feeding your cat a healthy diet, limiting his stress and providing an enriched environment (including ample exercise and playtime) maintain a strong immune system.
  3. Check other cats out. It’s extremely important when bringing in another feline family member to have him checked out by your veterinarian. Whether he’s coming from a shelter or rescue, or you found a stray cat that you want to foster or provide a forever home for, no matter how healthy he looks, he must go to the vet for a full exam before interacting with your cat.
  4. Give your cat the once-over. Check your cat for any abnormalities. In between his yearly medical exams, make sure to pass your hands all over his body at least once a week, feeling for anything weird. Look in his mouth. Observe his behavior — anything out of the ordinary that doesn’t pass in a few days warrants a trip to the vet.

While your cat may never develop a wart, taking the proper precautions to prevent them, and the right steps to correct them if he does, is all part of keeping your cat happy and healthy for his entire lifetime.

Thumbnail: Photography by Nikolay Bassov | Shutterstock. 

About the author

Denise LeBeau is a writer, editor and photographer with almost 20 years of experience of creating content for animal-related issues, endeavors and events. She worked at Best Friends Animal Society for 12 years where she had two columns in the Best Friends Magazine, and held multiple content creation roles including web managing editor and outreach campaign editor. Denise has been an ongoing contributor to Catster since 2014, writing for the magazine and website. The self-professed poet laureate of the pet set is currently the manager of development for an animal welfare agency, where she works with a team to create content across media platforms. She lives in Hampton Bays with her two rescue Siamese mixes – Flipper and Slayer, and her LBD (little brown dog), Zephyrella.

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