Itching and scratching are common behaviors in cats, but they can also be signs of medical problems. This article will discuss the causes and symptoms of itching and scratching in cats and the treatments available. By understanding this issue, cat owners can better address it when their pet displays these behaviors.
Causes of Itching and Scratching in Cats
Cats’ most common cause of itching and scratching are parasites such as fleas, mites, or ticks. These parasites feed on the cat’s blood, causing an itchy sensation that leads to scratching. Allergies can also cause itching and scratching in cats. Common allergens include pollens, molds, dust mites, and certain foods. Some cats may also be allergic to fabrics or detergents used to wash their bedding or clothing. In some cases, bacterial skin infections can cause itching and scratching in cats.
Environmental factors such as stress or temperature changes may also contribute to itching and scratching. Cats may react to new people or animals in their environment, changes in routine, or a new home environment. Additionally, hot weather can make a cat uncomfortable enough to start itching and scratching itself for relief.
Symptoms of Itching and Scratching in Cats
The most apparent symptom of itching and scratching is the visible evidence of a cat’s behavior—excessive licking, chewing, or biting at its fur or skin. Other signs may include redness or inflammation of the skin caused by excessive loss or biting at the affected area; bald patches; scabs; sores; an unkempt coat; restlessness; decreased appetite; fever; depression; and behavior changes such as aggression. If these symptoms occur suddenly without any known cause (such as introducing a new pet into the home), it’s essential to seek veterinary care immediately.
Treatments for Itching and Scratching in Cats
The first step in treating itching and scratching is determining the underlying cause. If parasites are suspected, your veterinarian will likely recommend flea prevention products such as flea collars, topical creams/shampoos, or injectable medications to kill parasites on contact. If allergies are suspected, your vet may recommend a course of antihistamines such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine). In cases of bacterial skin infections, antibiotics may be prescribed to help clear up any infection that may be causing the itching and scratching.
It’s important to note that even if you suspect your cat is suffering from an allergy, changing its diet should not be done without speaking with your veterinarian first—this could do more harm than good if done without proper guidance from a professional. Your vet may suggest switching your cat’s food to one that contains novel proteins (such as salmon) if allergies are suspected so they can rule out food sensitivities as a possible cause of their discomfort before moving on to other forms of treatment, such as antihistamines or antibiotics.
In addition to medical treatments for itching and scratching, there are some lifestyle changes you can make at home that may help reduce your cat’s discomfort:
• Provide multiple scratching posts throughout your home for your cat to use instead of furniture/carpets/etc.—not only will this reduce damage caused by them using furniture/carpets/etc., but it will provide them with some relief from their itchy skin!
• Consider using hypoallergenic bedding/clothing/blankets if allergies are suspected—this will help reduce any additional irritation caused by fabric allergies
• Keep your house well-ventilated—dust mites thrive in humid environments, so keeping air circulating throughout will help reduce the amount of dust mites present
• Make sure all litter boxes are kept clean—dirty litter boxes can become breeding grounds for parasites which could lead to further irritation for your feline friend
• Consider adding omega-3 fatty acid supplements into their diet—omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation which could help reduce itchiness associated with allergies
Itching and scratching are common behaviors among cats, but they could also be signs of medical problems such as parasites, allergies, or skin infections. By understanding the causes and symptoms associated with this issue, cat owners can better address it when their pet displays these behaviors through medical treatments (such as flea prevention products, antihistamines, or antibiotics) combined with lifestyle changes such as providing multiple scratching posts throughout their home, investing in hypoallergenic bedding/clothing/blankets if allergies are suspected and adding omega-3 fatty acid supplements into their diet if inflammation is present.