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Pruritus is the medical word for itching and is described as a painful sensation in the skin that makes you want to scratch it. Itching in cats is a symptom, not a diagnosis or a condition. Parasites, infections, and allergies are the most frequent causes of itching.
There are a variety of skin disorders that do not produce irritation at first but can occur as a result of secondary bacterial or yeast infections in certain illnesses. It's conceivable that by the time itching appears, the underlying reason has vanished.
The goal of pruritus therapy is to eliminate the underlying cause. In most situations, if the main source of the itch is recognised, itchy skin in cats may be properly treated, and they will be considerably more comfortable following therapy.
What you need to know about why your cat is scratching and what you can do about it is outlined below.
There are a few signs that your cat's itching is a problem that needs to be addressed. Keep your eyes peeled for:
Fleas are still the most prevalent cause of skin illness in cats. However, this isn't true in all cases, and fleas aren't the sole source of itchy skin in cats. When fleas aren't the problem, a far more thorough and rigorous method is required to determine the cause of cat itchiness.
It might be difficult to tell the difference between skin illness caused by pruritus and skin disease caused by other reasons in cats in some cases. For example, one of the signs of skin allergies in dogs is hair fall. This might not be the most suitable sign you should look out for if your cat has underlying skin issues. This is due to the fact that hair fall is very common among cats as they self groom regularly.
There are many reasons why your cat has itchy skin. Let’s take a look at those possible causes:
As explained above, fleas are the most common cause of itchy skin in cats. Fleas are frequently the source of obsessive scratching and licking in cats.
Cats are superb groomers, therefore they may be able to get rid of all fleas. If your cat is licking their lower back excessively, with or without scabs on the neck, fleas may be the source of the problem.
The pruritus might be caused by chemical interactions in the food, as well as chemicals and preservatives. It is widely known that switching the diet to a food that the cat has never been exposed to before will help to treat some types of pruritic skin illness.
To rule out food-response dermatitis, cats may need to be fed an alternate diet for 6-8 weeks, and the food choice during this period is critical. You can try a fresh cat food diet as it is the healthier option and it may help in alleviating your cat’s food allergies.
It's not as simple as switching brands of cat food because the contents are frequently fairly similar. Your veterinarian will recommend the best diet for your cat.
Wasps and bees, for example, can sting your cat, resulting in swollen, painful skin. Other insects, such as fleas, midges, flies, and mosquitoes, may bite, causing severe discomfort and pruritus as a result of the bite or the bug saliva.
Environmental allergies are brought on by allergens breathed by cats, who then develop atopy, an allergic skin disease.
Pollen and house dust allergies are common in cats and can cause pruritus, but they're difficult to detect and there's no way of knowing whether the condition is hereditary.
Atopy is diagnosed in most cats by eliminating other possible sources of pruritus, such as fleas and other parasites, as well as food. Cats can be tested for allergies (for example, intradermal skin tests), however, the findings are inconsistent.
Because allergens such as dust and pollen are virtually hard to avoid, allergy testing is most beneficial for pet owners who want to pursue hyposensitization therapy (allergy shots).
Itching is generally the result of a cat's skin becoming infected, whether with bacteria, fungus, or parasites.
When an itchy cat arrives at the veterinarian's office, one of the first diagnostic measures is to check for the most prevalent skin illnesses. One of the most prevalent infectious causes of feline itchiness is caused by ringworms.
The medical term for a ringworm infection is “dermatophytosis.” As dermatophytosis may be transmitted to humans, testing for ringworm, whether by a fungal culture or a more sophisticated laboratory test called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), is critical, even if the pet owner does not suspect that ringworm is to blame.
Some cats brush themselves excessively for no apparent ‘medical' reason. Grooming is a soothing function for cats, but excessive grooming can result in painful patches of skin and bald patches, most often on the belly.
Consider this option if your cat has been examined by a veterinarian and no known medical cause has been identified, as well as if the situation at home has recently changed, such as the addition of a new pet.
If you believe emotional issues are contributing to your cat's skin problems, speak with your veterinarian. They may be able to recommend methods to reduce anxiety.
Additionally, cats who are bored, agitated, or nervous are more likely to engage in compulsive gnawing, clawing, or licking activities.
Indoor cats are more prone to develop mental problems, which might be attributed to the fact that they get less activity and excitement than outside cats.
Here are some ways in which you can help your cat:
If your cat gets a clean bill of health but continues to scratch, a modification in her food may be necessary. Your veterinarian will put your cat on a hypoallergenic diet that has only a few components, including an uncommon protein like duck or venison, to cure food allergies.
You can try Petcubes Raw Duck Cat Food, which is carefully curated with the right ingredients to better your cat’s health. This meal may help improve your cat’s skin health alongside other benefits, as long as they are not allergic to duck, which is unlikely.
Using this method, observe and see whether your cat's scratching improves after 6 weeks while she's on the diet. If it improves, a food allergy is usually the cause of its scratching. After a period of eating the hypoallergenic food, components are gradually put back into the kitty's diet one at a time until the source of the scratching can be identified.
Moreover, essential fatty acids are the first nutritional supplement to consider for an animal with itchy skin. Fish oil is the ideal source for cats since the fatty acid chains are quickly accessible by the animal's system without the need for any conversion.
This aids in the reduction of inflammation and the nourishment of the skin and coat. They can also help with the digestive system's healing process. It can also help relieve arthritic symptoms in senior cats.
Shampoos, collars, spot-on treatments, and oral prescription medicines are just a few of the flea and tick management alternatives available. You may help your pet avoid the itching skin caused by fleas or ticks by keeping them on a year-round insect protection regimen.
It's also vital to treat your yard and house to keep the insect population under control. However, be sure that any products you use are properly designed for cats, as canine products might be hazardous to your cat.
Grooming on a regular basis might also assist. The more you pay attention to your cat's skin and coat, the more likely you are to notice possible problems early on.
You may use a variety of topical remedies to relieve the discomfort and itching of cat scabs. Topical steroid creams, for example, can help relieve itching and prevent scratching or biting at the affected area.
Topical remedies are available over the counter or from your veterinarian. Before using this approach, check your veterinarian; they may conclude that injectable or oral medicines, which must be prescribed, are required.
If your cat continues to scratch at an area despite topical therapy, you may need to put a bandage on to prevent them from bleeding. This will also prevent them from swallowing the ointment or lotion.
You can have your veterinarian apply a bandage to the area, or you can gently wrap it in many layers of gauze and dressing. Although if you do it yourself, it's better to have your veterinarian educate you on how to do it properly first.
It would be wiser to use non-sticky items that will not tug at your cat's fur since this will just aggravate the itching. To ensure that your cat heals correctly, change the bandage on a regular basis.
Putting a cone on your cat for a week or so is a safe approach to try at home to reduce your cat's itch, especially if the skin condition looks to be localised rather than widespread.
These cones will simply prevent your cat from licking the infected area of the skin. Excessive licking aggravates the itch by increasing irritation and inflammation in the skin.
Although this method will not solve the underlying problem, it will buy you time between discovering your cat's itching and being able to schedule a veterinarian appointment.
When it comes to reducing your cat's itch at home, a bath is usually the safest place to start. Scabs, dandruff, and environmental allergens like pollen or dust, as well as any material on the skin that might be harbouring infections or causing direct discomfort, are all soothed by warm water.
Please do not use human shampoos on your cat. Use a shampoo intended for cats, which aims to hydrate the skin thereby reducing irritation. Colloidal oatmeal or phytosphingosine-containing cat shampoos are the most effective in reducing your cat's itching.
Coconut oil has a number of advantages for cats. Coconut oil can assist with allergies, dry skin, itching, and general coat health. Internally, coconut oil can assist a cat's immune system, hairballs, arthritic inflammation, poor breath, and gastrointestinal health.
You can try PetCubes’ coconut oil, which is made from 100% certified extra virgin coconut oil. You can apply this product directly to the affected area or feed your cat the oil.
Yes, it can. It's conceivable that your cat has a parasitic illness like cat ringworm, a parasitic infestation like mites or fleas, or a cat skin disease caused by an allergy.
Because all of the above reasons will irritate your cat's skin, it may find it difficult not to scratch. It can have bald patches and fur balls by swallowing hair when they lick or chew it by over-grooming or scratching.
Itchiness in cats can be cured over time with love and carefully following instructions from your veterinarian. Try these methods and you can nurse your cat back to normal health as soon as possible.
Dr Francis is one of the top wildlife nutritionists in Asia. Originating from Montreal, Canada, he left at 21 to pursue his Masters and subsequently a PhD in wildlife nutrition at Oxford Brookes University. Instead of taking the path of common animal science to learn about farm animals, or through the veterinarian space and taking a certificate in nutrition, he took the road less travelled to dive deep into the world of animal ecology, metabolism and nutrition.
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