Itchy Skin in Cats
If your cat can’t stop scratching, you should take a closer look at her coat and skin to see what could be the culprit. Itchy skin in cats is a very common problem and fortunately, it usually isn’t serious. However, it is of utmost importance to identify the cause of itching and make sure that your cat receives proper treatment. As soon as possible in order to avoid complications as constant scratching can lead to hair loss, crusting and infection.
A number of things can be responsible for itchy skin in cats. The most common causes include:
– Fleas and lice. Both parasites can cause major discomfort including intense itchiness which gets worse if the infestation is left unchecked. Fleas and flea droppings can often be seen with a naked eye but to be sure, you may also use a comb. If you see tiny black spots, you are looking at flea droppings. You may also comb out white dots or flea eggs. Lice and their eggs can be visually detected as well. They are tiny white insects producing white elongated eggs. However, they are far less common than fleas.
– Mites and other parasites. Mite infestation in cats usually involves the ears but there is also mite species which affects the skin, causing severe itching and symptoms such as scaling and skin lesions. Just like fleas and lice, skin mites can often be seen with a naked eye on a closer inspection of the skin. The same counts for parasites such as ticks.
– Allergies. Cats can develop allergies too. And they can manifest themselves in the form of itchy skin. The latter can be a reaction to a number of things including food, grooming products and even environmental factors such as pollen and dust, while many cats are also hypersensitive to flea and insect bites. Besides itchy skin, symptoms of an allergy in cats may also include skin lesions and hair loss.
– Bacterial and fungal skin infections. These are usually also accompanied by other symptoms such as crusting, lesions, hair loss or/and discharge.
Treatment of Itchy Skin in Cats
To relieve the discomfort, it is necessary to identify and treat the cause of the itchiness. If fleas or lice are the culprit, the itchiness will go away as soon as the parasites are eliminated. There are a number of highly effective topical products from shampoos and sprays to spot-ons, many of which also provide protection from future infestations and are available over-the-counter.
Other parasites such as mites can successfully be treated with topical products as well, while ticks should be physically removed. Topical ointments and creams are the most commonly prescribed treatment for bacterial and fungal skin infections but your vet may also prescribe oral medications, depending on the cause and severity of the infection.
Allergies can be very challenging to treat, especially if the trigger hasn’t been identified yet. The best treatment is elimination of the trigger but your vet may also prescribe oral and topical medications to reduce the allergic reaction and alleviate its symptoms including itchy skin.