Why is My Cat Itching? Let’s Talk about Skin Issues in Felines.

Why is My Cat Itching?

Let’s Talk about Skin Issues in Felines.


Allergy season is upon us, and there’s no better time to talk about allergies affecting your feline friend. Many feline allergies reveal themselves in your cat’s coat and skin. There are a variety of skin conditions that can affect cats, and some of them can seriously impact their health and well-being. Regular check-ups can help keep allergies and other skin conditions under control as well as provide valuable insight into other issues that may be affecting your cat’s health.

Allergic Reactions

Cats, like their human companions, can suffer from allergies. Feline allergic reactions can range from sneezing and discharge to swelling or skin lesions. Flaky skin or hair loss may be an indication that your pet is having a bad reaction to something in their environment.

It’s important to assess any environmental changes and report them during your veterinary appointment. A change in diet, home improvements, new plants, or recent medical treatment are all important factors to consider when determining the cause of your pet’s discomfort.

A relatively common cause of a skin-related allergic reaction in cats is a diet change. Your vet may recommend transitioning to a novel protein food or previous diet. Often times, specific proteins or grains are the culprit. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to isolate the exact product your cat is allergic to, as most foods contain a long list of what may be considered potential allergens. It may take weeks to months to see the positive effects of a healthy transition.

Treating an allergy can be as simple as removing an allergen from the environment. However, your vet may recommend medication to help boost your pet’s immune response or treat any bacterial infections resulting from open wounds or lesions.

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Flea Allergy Dermatitis

A flea allergy is one of the most common causes of dermatitis in cats and can result in mild to severe dermatological symptoms. Symptoms may include scratching, over-grooming, hair loss, flakiness, redness, or lesions. You may notice flea bites of your own or even see live fleas or dirt on your cat.

Many owners don’t actually see fleas on their pet or in their environment, as it doesn’t take many to produce an allergic reaction. Cats are also excellent groomers and may ingest their tiny companions. Even indoor cats can be affected; fleas can be tracked in from outside on clothes or shoes. A few quick swipes with a flea comb may turn up fleas or flea dirt, small, black pieces of flea feces that turn copper when wetted.

A steroid can be helpful in treating flea allergy dermatitis, but the most important step is ensuring that your pet won’t be bitten in the future. This involves putting your cat on a flea preventative and thoroughly eliminating fleas from their environment.

Topical and oral flea preventatives will continuously kill fleas on your pet, while a bath may help destroy an initial infestation. There are several ways to treat your home, including: deep cleaning, flea bombing, sprays, and the hiring of pest control professionals. Frequent treatment and vacuuming will help eliminate stubborn eggs or dormant fleas that survived previous efforts.

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Fungal and Bacterial Infections

Fungal and bacterial infections can cause serious health issues for your pet. They may result in lesions or weaken your cat’s immune system, making them more susceptible to other infections. Bacterial infections are a common side effect of other dermatological troubles, as scratching can cause then spread bacteria to open wounds. Your vet may recommend oral or injectable antibiotics and wound treatment to ensure that your cat makes a full recovery.

Ringworm is a relatively common fungal infection that causes patches of hair loss and scaly skin in felines. It is most often seen in kittens, elderly cats, and those with suppressed immune systems. Ringworm can also cross species, meaning you can develop lesions as well. If diagnosed with ringworm, your pet will most likely have to take antifungal medications, and, in some cases, special baths to treat the infection.

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At Nob Hill Cat Clinic, your cat’s health is our priority. We’d like to enlist your help! Run your hands down your pet’s back, look at their paws and ears, and schedule an appointment in addition to their regular check-ups should you notice anything out of the ordinary. Skin problems, like most health issues, are best treated early. Together, we can get your cat back to their healthiest and happiest selves.


-Kaitlin Murphy