Why Is My Cat So Itchy?
Frequent, severe itching is usually one of the first signs of a more serious problem. Try to determine any possible cause of itching. Does your cat have fleas or mites? Is its skin severely scratched, inflamed or scaly? Are there any sores on your cat? Is there significant hair loss? These are all serious concerns and should result in a trip to your veterinarian.
Possible Causes of Cat's Itch
There are many possible reasons for a cat's itching, and itching is a common symptom of other problems.
- Causes Range in Severity: Your cat may simply have dry skin, or it may have a serious bacterial or fungal infection.
- Cats Can Have Allergies, Just Like Us: Allergies in cats are becoming more and more frequent; your cat may be allergic to its food or to other environmental triggers.
- Look for Swelling or Wounds. The cat may have an infection of some sort, either in its whole body or in a localized spot. Watch to see where it itches is it in one area such as its leg, neck or head or all over?
- Consider Their Meds. Itching may be a sign of a reaction to a medication, and if this is the case your vet will change the medication or prescribe another treatment to ease the itching.
- Ask for a FIV and Feline Leukemia Test. An immune system disorder may also be to blame.
- Has their Routine Been Upset? Finally, severe itching and licking may be signs of an emotional problem; your cat could be experiencing anxiety, boredom or stress.
A Trip to the Vet
If your cat is exhibiting itching of a more frequent or serious nature than normal, you'll want to make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. These are all symptoms to pay attention to and report to your veterinarian:
- Try to determine how long the itching has occurred, and what other symptoms accompany the itching.
- Notice any unusual hair loss or excessive licking.
- Has your cat exhibited any odd behavior lately?
- Also, check for any odors, open sores, skin discoloration or bumps, skin inflammation, greasy or rough hair or blisters.
Your vet may perform a number of tests in order to asses your cat's needs. They may do a visual skin examination, a skin scraping, a hair culture or a fecal exam. Some vets will look at your cat's hair under an ultraviolet light to check for ringworm. To test for food allergies, your vet may put your cat on a special food for a month or two. An antibiotic may be prescribed to treat a bacterial infection. In some cases, a blood test or biopsy may be needed to rule out other more serious conditions.
In The Meantime
After your vet has examined your cat, they may prescribe an anti-inflammatory or steroidal cream to relieve the itching. Depending on treatment options, you may be able to at least soothe your cat's itching while you are waiting for the lab work or treatment to take effect. You may have to get a plastic cone collar, called an Elizabethan collar, to prevent your cat from doing further damage to their skin. These collars cover the cats head to prevent it from being able to chew on itself. There are many possible causes and solutions for a cat itching, working with your vet to find the answer if the fastest way for your cat to start healing.