Itchy Skin

Frequent scratching may indicate fleas, allergies or fungal infection. Consult your veterinarian for help.

Posted: Tue Dec 17 00:00:00 PST 2002

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Itchy skin may be driving you and your cat crazy. Cats can scratch and lick and pull out large areas of their coats, developing red patches and scabs. Unfortunately, almost all causes of dermatitis and itchiness look the same when examined. The most common itchy problem in cats is flea infestation and secondary flea bite allergy dermatitis. Infectious and allergic causes are also possible. To determine the cause of dermatitis, fungal testing and skin scrapings may be needed.

Fungal infections, such as ringworm and certain types of mange, can cause itchy skin and be contagious to humans and other pets. If your cat has more than an occasional itch, seek veterinary attention. Let your veterinarian know if you or any other pets in the household are having problems.

Cats can be allergic to just about anything, making diagnosis difficult. Your veterinarian can perform skin tests to check for inhaled and contact allergies. To diagnose a food allergy, your cat may be placed on a hypoallergenic diet.

Not all itchy skin problems can be cured. A management plan may be needed to keep your cat comfortable and control the problem. Treatments for skin diseases include flea control, medicated shampoos, oral drugs and special diets.

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Reader Comments

Diane    Meridian, ID

3/1/2013 8:43:45 PM

My cat would scratch herself until she had open sores. She was lethargic, and her coat was thin. My vet suggested an expensive prescription food, which helped a little, but didn’t really solve the problem. We then added a daily dose of Cyclosporine, an anti-allergy drug, to her diet, and that helped a little more. But my poor kitty still suffered occasional bouts of allergy-related symptoms. As she went through another period of losing her coat, being lethargic, coughing up lots of hairballs, and just generally seeming miserable, I got desperate to help her and started researching online. I came across a website that praised raw food over ANY (even the most expensive) dry food. After doing a bit of reading on the subject, we switched to a commercially available ground raw food, then to a whole prey diet as I learned about the benefits to her dental health. Bottom line, she is doing awesome on this new whole, raw diet. No expensive prescription food, no expensive allergy drugs. Her coat is thick and gorgeous; she’s energetic; and I’m spending way less on her food. I am so grateful to the websites devoted to species appropriate whole raw diets for cats AND dogs. The info I found on them made SUCH a difference for my kitty!

Michelle    San Diego, CA

5/11/2012 7:00:45 PM

My Doo has seasonal itchy bumps that scab up when he scratches them. He is highly allergic to all cat food. He has been on a hypo-allergenic diet for months now. But for some reason the bumps are back. I don't know what to do. Should I give him a medicated bath? Is it fleas? I haven't seen any evidence of them. What could be causing the bumps this time. I know he is very uncomfortable. I want to help him. Please help if you can

Geyl Ferraris    Mesa, AZ

10/11/2011 10:00:12 PM

Hershey is an unwanted 8 month old Siamese until she was given to me. I love her dearly. 2 months after her stay at home, she developed itchiness and scratched until her skin would redden here and there. After several trips to the vets clinic, she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism wherein her thyroid level is only 1.9 as compared to the normal 2. She eats well too and plays with her siblings. My question is: is the condition of hypothyroidism cause itching to cats. She has been wearing her elizabethan collar since aug 14 and that really decrease her quality of life. pls help me. Hershey will be so happy....

janet    bethlehem, PA

8/12/2010 4:16:38 AM

good information, thank you

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