Allergies in cats are more common than you might think. There are a lot of factors that can cause them, and if dermatitis is developed, it can sometimes be very challenging to treat. Does your cat have itchy skin?
In today’s article, we’re looking at some of the most common causes of skin itchiness in cats, how you can tell if your cat is itchy, and what you can do about it.
Common causes your cat might have itchy skin
There are two main causes of itchy skin in cats and they are infectious and allergic. However, cats can also develop itchiness as a result of stress and anxiety or autoimmune diseases, which naturally do not fall under the same categories that we have mentioned.
In terms of infectious causes, a cat can catch parasitic infections (fleas, mites, or ticks) or ringworm (dermatophytosis). These issues are more common in cats that spend a lot of time outdoors, but even pet parents can inadvertently carry a parasite egg from the outside into their home and get their cats infected.
When it comes to the allergic causes of itchiness in cats, they can be of a different nature, too. Some cats develop food allergies, and while they are quite rare (compared to their frequency in dogs), grain allergies can happen. Cats can also be allergic to various factors in their environment and to flea bites.
How can you tell if your cat is itchy?
If your feline friend scratches her body just a couple of times a day, there’s probably no reason for you to feel concerned. But if scratching occurs every few minutes, it’s definitely time to go to the vet.
Your cat might also chew and nibble at her coat, over-groom herself, and cough up more hairballs than usual. It’s not uncommon for bald patches to appear across your cat’s body, but some animals also develop scabs or open sores as a result of secondary bacterial infections.
Besides these symptoms, your cat might also have itchy and runny eyes or could be sneezing and coughing. With food allergies, vomiting and diarrhea can be two clinical signs that you might notice alongside the itchiness.
Flea allergies can cause intense itchiness, with most cats experiencing this symptom from only one flea bite.
What can you give your cat to stop itchiness?
The first thing you might want to do is to give your cat a calming bath. Warm water is capable of removing dandruff, and if you use the right products, you can also get rid of the fleas (should they be the primary cause of the allergy). Do not use human shampoos as they can contain unsafe ingredients and they are not primarily made for the skin pH of animals.
Our Rufus & Coco Flea Flee is a shampoo that can remove and kill both fleas and lice. It can be used on dogs, too, not just cats, so if you’re a pet parent of both species you can safely use it on your canine friend, too. Best of all, it contains natural pyrethrins, which are safe for the cat, yet deadly for fleas.
Another option would be Itch Relief, a shampoo made specifically for aiding non-specific dermatoses, as well as fungal infections. If your cat doesn’t have flea allergies and the only symptoms you’ve noticed are itchiness and dandruff, this product might be the right choice.
Some human medications provide itch relief to cats and can be used more or less safely. Always ask your veterinarian before deciding to give your feline buddy any kind of meds that are made for people. Several examples of drugs that can reduce itchiness are Claritin and Benadryl.
Using a so-called ‘cone of shame’ is not a solution to the problem. It will prevent your cat from creating additional complications such as skin lesions, but it will not reduce the itchiness. However, an e-collar can prove its worth if your veterinarian has recommended a cream and you want to make sure that your cat doesn’t ingest it while grooming her body.
Preventing itchiness in cats
All of the possible solutions we’ve mentioned above can work in some situations, but you should consider taking your cat to the vet clinic for a check-up before anything else.
When it comes to preventing itchiness, there are some things you can do. First of all, you can make sure that your cat doesn’t develop a flea allergy by using topical products on a regular basis. Indoor-only cats need fewer doses in a year than outdoor cats as the latter are more exposed to flea infestations.
Fish oils and probiotics can have a positive effect on your feline mate’s immune system, so if your cat does develop an allergy, the itchiness will be less severe as there will be less inflammation involved.