How To Stop Cats Itching Due To Their Environment:
If you think your cat is itching due to environmental factors, the first treatment is to enrich its environment. This can help cats who groom because theyre stressed or bored. There are lots of reasons cats can be stressed including changes to routine, having to share resources with other cats, or being lonely if they are left alone for much of the day. Work on the causes where possible, and in the meantime give them a happier home by:
- Creating more opportunities to climb and hide especially if yours is multi-cat household.
- Create separate feeding spots if you have more than one cat.
- Invest in some fun toys to keep your kitty entertained if you work long hours food puzzles are great.
- Get crafty and make a DIY cat tree or get a modular kit and go all-out for a cat castle!
- Make sure they have a place to scratch its natural and healthy for them to do so.
- Treat them to some cat DVDs, or if you want a real treat for your kitty and yourself, invest in an aquarium. Many cats will be transfixed by the movement of the fish!
- Make time for play cats may be independent, but most really value interaction, so make time for some fun and games every day.
How To Stop Cats Itching Due To Psychological Factors:
Have a think – what have you changed recently? It may be that your cat is feeling itchy because youve opted for a fragranced washing powder, changed your bathroom or floor cleaner, or spritzed the sofa with an odour destroying spray.
If you have made a change recently, revert to your old product routine if you can, and with a little luck, your kitty will be thanking you with lots of purrs and less scratching. It can also be helpful to support the skin barrier with a supplement like YuDERM Cat too.
Why Do Cats Compulsively Scratch Lick Or Chew
Parasites.Fleas are often the culprits behind compulsive cat scratching or cat licking behaviors. Because cats are excellent groomers, they may actually remove all traces of fleas. If you notice your cat licking their lower back obsessively, with or without scabs on the neck, it is a sign that fleas might be causing the problem. Other parasites, including ticks, mites, and ringworm, can also prompt scratching, licking, or chewing.
Allergies. Just as some people develop skin irritations in response to certain foods or environmental triggers, cats may have itchy, irritated skin if they are allergic to something in their environment.
Dry skin. Dry winter air or nutritional inadequacies can contribute to dry, flaky skin that gets your cat started licking or scratching in search of relief.
Pain. If you notice your cat licking or biting at the same spot over and over again, it could be that they are experiencing pain or discomfort in that area.
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What To Do If Your Cat Is Itchy
If your cat is showing the signs of pruritus, get it to the vet as soon as you can. Due to the multiple causes of this skin condition, medical intervention will be required in order to determine the underlying cause of the itch. Treatment will then be determined on what is causing the pruritus to appear.
Temporary relief from the itching can be achieved through medications such as:
- Fatty acid supplements
Inflammatory Causes Of Itchiness In Cats
Different types of allergies constitute the inflammatory issues that can lead to itchiness in cats. The most common itch-causing allergies in cats are:
While rare, inflammatory itchiness can also be caused by contact allergies.
In cats, food allergies are usually caused by proteins like chicken or fish. Despite common wisdom, grain allergies are extremely rare. People will often switch their cat to a grain-free diet, a limited-ingredient diet, or other diets, thinking falsely that these diets are the best way to reduce their cats itchiness.
According to veterinary dermatologists, a food trial is one of the best, most cost-effective ways to evaluate whether food allergies are contributing to a cats itch. During a food trial, the cat is fed nothing but a hydrolyzed diet. Hydrolyzed diets are prescription pet foods that cannot elicit an allergic response because the proteins in the food have been broken up into such small pieces that the immune system cannot recognize them as foreign proteins, so they dont trigger the allergic reaction.
Food trials typically last eight weeks .
After eight weeks, the cats itch level is reassessed. If the itch is dramatically improved while on the hydrolyzed diet, but quickly returns when other diets are given, a food allergy is the primary culprit. These cats should be fed a hydrolyzed protein diet or a novel protein diet throughout their lives.
Flea Bite Hypersensitivity
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Some Fancy Terms For Itchiness
Silent Grooming: Even when cats increase their grooming significantly, they may do this hidden from you. They may quietly hide in a private space and groom away. Or, they may simply over-groom at night. This behaviour is called silent grooming. This is likely due to cats being the friend that will keep their problems to themselves. Increased hair loss, skin rashes, and hair balls around the house can help us find out that kitty is silently over-grooming!
Barbering: Cats have tiny barbs on their tongue, called papillae. These hooks can lead to fine trimming of hair at areas where a cat is grooming excessively and repeatedly. The skin doesnt always become bald at these areas but is just shorter like a barber may trim hair. This is where the term barbering comes from. Over-grooming of the belly commonly causes such hair loss.
Fur Mowing: Similar to barbering, the papillae on the tongue can cause the hair on belly to look like a nicely mowed lawn!
Dr. Bajwa: I wish I was half as good at keeping up with my home lawn mowed, as some of my patients hair is mowed when I first see them. But I even things out by making them mow their fur less and help their fur grow back, just like the grass in my yard!
Treatment Of Itchiness In Cats
The treatment prescribed by your veterinarian will depend on the underlying cause of the itchiness. Treatments may vary considerably depending on what is causing the animals itchiness. Some of the common treatments for itchiness include:
Flea or Pest Control Treatments
If fleas or other skin parasites are determined to be the cause, treatment will focus on eliminating those pests. Your veterinarian may recommend several different treatment methods, including those for the cat and the living environment. Eliminating fleas is especially important if your pet is having an allergic reaction or sensitivity to their bites. Some flea treatments include topical medications, medicated shampoos, and powders or sprays to use around the house. Most pest control methods recommended by your veterinarian will be considered safe for pets, but take care when using any insecticide in your home.
If a food allergy is identified, the most successful treatment method will involve eliminating that food from your pets diet. Changing pet food brands may be required depending on the item determined to be causing your cats allergy. Dietary changes carry very little to no risk to your pet.
This steroidal treatment is commonly used to reduce itching and associated symptoms. It may be given orally or topically. In more severe cases it may be given as an injection. This treatment carries a low risk of side effects.
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What Are Cats Allergic To
Allergies in cats occur when a cats immune system overreacts to a foreign substance called an allergen. Just like allergies in dogs, allergies in cats can be broken into four types: inhalant, contact, flea, and food. The related allergens that can cause problems for your cat include:
- Pollen, grass, mold, mildew, and dust mites
- Perfumes and colognes
- Prescription drugs
All cats are at risk for developing allergies. Allergies tend to be more common among outdoor cats since theyre exposed to a wider range of allergens. Theyre especially prone to flea and pollen allergies.
How To Stop Cats Itching Due To Diet:
Talk to your vet about hypoallergenic foods or do your research online. Then gradually change your cats diet and see if its sayonara scratching!
Dont forget that treats can cause reactions too, so whilst youre working out what might be the cause of the itch, dont feed treats that arent 100% natural
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Frequent Washing Of The Pet
Excessive fascination with the owners of frequent washing of the animal. Too often, you can not wash the cat, it removes the protective lipid layer on the skin, it dries up, flakes, irritates and ceases to perform protective functions. Itching appears and a secondary infection can easily join.
Use of powders for wool. Exhibition animals are often treated with special powders to improve the condition and fluffiness of the coat. If the powder is not combed and washed out in a timely manner, it can become a breeding ground for microbes or cause an allergic reaction. The same applies to the use of other special products deodorants, glitter sprays, and so on.
My Cat Keeps Scratching But Doesnt Have Fleas
A cat can itch not only because of fleas, ticks. She may have allergies or a subcutaneous parasite.
Skin problems can have a range of causes, sometimes more than one. It is very important to have actually the problem inspected by your vet to determine if there is a medical cause for your pets skin problems and treat appropriately.
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Recognizing Dry Skin In Cats
Cats are not open books like most canine companions, so youll often have to work a little harder to spot and uncover issues with your cats health. You should investigate further if youve noticed dandruff in your cats fur or on spots where she naps or sleeps.
When you look at a cats skin through parted fur, note any dullness or the buildup of dry skin cells. Pay attention too to your kitty repeatedly grooming, especially in one spot. If youve noticed patchiness or unusual hair loss in your cat, you know something is going on.
Here Are Some Signs Of Itchiness In Cats:
- Over-grooming an increase in time spent self-grooming
- Scratching using claws and paws to scratch an area usually the chest, head & neck
- Nail pulling biting and pulling at nails
- Rubbing rubbing face on carpet, or rolling the back on floor more than usual
- Scooting rubbing back end on floor or carpet
- Hair balls hair can be ingested due to increased grooming and forms hair balls in stomach. These hair balls are then vomited out by the cat.
- Head shaking a typical sign of itchiness in their ears
- Hair loss trauma to hairs of a certain area can cause hair loss
- Skin rashes and crusts trauma to skin can also cause rashes or infection
Remember, scratching is one of the forms of itchiness. All scratching is itching, but not all itching has to be scratching! Other behaviours such as licking, biting, rubbing, and head shaking can also be signs of itchiness.
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Infections Of The Outer Ear
Bacterial and fungal infections of the outer ear often look quite similar to ear mite infestations. The symptoms scratching and head shaking are essentially the same, but if you look closely at the ears, you may notice some differences. Ear infections often cause a cats ears to become more red and swollen than do mite infestations, and the discharge from an infected ear tends to have a distinctly foul odor.
To appropriately treat an ear infection, a veterinarian first has to microscopically examine a sample taken from the ears to determine whether yeast or bacteria are to blame. The doctor will then thoroughly clean out your cats ears, take a look inside to determine how much damage has been done, and then prescribe appropriate treatment, which may include ear cleaners, topical medications, oral anti-infectives, pain relief and anti-inflammatories based on the specifics of your cats case.
What Is The Best Food For Cats With Allergies
It can be tricky finding the best food for a cat, so don’t go it alone. Consult your veterinarian, who can help you properly conduct a food trial using a “hypoallergenic” cat food that utilizes a novel protein source or hydrolyzed protein.
“A ‘novel’ protein source is one that is completely new to the cat,” says Dr. Coates, “thereby reducing the chance of an immune response.” Hypoallergenic cat food options include venison and potato, duck and pea, salmon and potato, or even kangaroo, as long as the cat hasnt been exposed to these ingredients in the past.
Hydrolyzed diets, meanwhile, are made when intact animal proteins are broken down into very small molecules that the immune system should not be able to recognize as allergens, virtually eliminating the possibility of an adverse food reaction. “Starches or rice are typically used as carbohydrate sources because they are very infrequently associated with allergic reactions,” says Dr. Coates.
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Infectious Causes Behind Itchiness In Cats
When a cats skin becomes infectedbe it with bacteria, fungi, or parasitesitchiness is usually the result.
When an itchy cat comes into the animal hospital, testing for the most common skin infections is one of the first diagnostic steps in the workup.
Dermatophytosis is the medical word for a ringworm infection, and its among the most common infectious causes of feline pruritus. Dermatophytosis can be passed to people, so testing for ringworm, either by fungal culture or a more modern laboratory test called PCR, is an important step, even if pet owners dont believe ringworm to be the cause.
More commonly, parasitic infections can cause cats to become itchy.
Parasites that live on the skin are called ectoparasites, a term that includes fleas, ticks, mites, and other organisms.
Because many cats live exclusively indoors, administration of flea and tick preventatives is far less common in cats than in dogs. The reluctance of cat owners to administer these products in a consistent manner is due partly to the false perception that indoor cats cannot contract parasitic infections.
The owners of itchy indoor cats are almost always surprised when told that their cat has fleas, even though fleas are present in over 50% of itchy cat cases.
Causes Of Cat Pruritus
Cat pruritus is not a disease or even a diagnosis, but it’s a symptom. Pruritus is usually caused by parasites, like fleas or mites, which lead to an allergic reaction and usually inflamed skin. Other allergies can also be responsible, which can include any number of triggers ranging from food ingredients to seasonal environmental allergies. Sometimes, a skin infection, like a bacterial or yeast infection, can also be the cause of pruritus in cats. Luckily, treatment is available, however, the ideal cat pruritus home remedy will depend on why your cat is itching in the first place.
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How Is Atopy Diagnosed
Unfortunately, atopy is not always a quick and easy diagnosis to make, but along with the vets physical exam of your pet, any information that you give will provide clues as to whether its atopy or something else. Some of the questions you may be asked include:
- Is this the first time your pet has had this or has he had a similar condition in the past?
- Does it recur at a particular time of the year?
- Has it improved with medication in the past? What medication was used?
- Where does your pet scratch itself?
- Does the itching wax and wane or does it seem to be pretty consistent?
- Do you use flea preventatives? How often?
- Is it worse when your dog eats a particular type of food?
Sometimes other conditions need to be excluded first e.g. a skin scraping may need to be done to exclude a mite infestation. A food trial may be warranted and sometimes a biopsy may be necessary to rule certain things in or out too. A medication trial may be required to see how the condition responds in order to confirm the diagnosis.
Is Your Pet Driving You Crazy With Excessive Licking And/or Itching Now To Be Fair All Dogs And Cats Will Lick And/or Itch Themselves As A Normal Behavior Its When They Are Persistently Performing This Behavior That Would Raise Concern Here Are The Top Reasons Behind Their Behavior And What You Can Do About
Reason # 1: I am itchy!
The most common reason for your pet to be excessively itching, scratching, and licking themselves is due to an allergy. There are different types of allergies with the top 4 being reactions to fleas, environmental allergens, food, and contact allergies. It can be challenging to diagnose the exact cause of the allergy. Based upon the age of your pet, the areas your pets body that is affected, evidence for fleas, and any seasonality to the displayed behavior are all used by your trusted veterinarian to help determine what is the cause of the itchy-scratchies. Bee stings resulting in hives and allergic reactions to vaccines are other causes for itchiness and would be noted within a few hours of the sting or vaccine.
My favorite allergy from the list is flea allergies ! I knowcrazy right? Here me out though. Flea allergy is the only allergy that can be easily controlled with monthly flea prevention! Food allergies and Atopy are tough to control without major medical efforts and lengthy strict hypoallergenic food trials. Below is a classical picture of a dog with FAD. Note, the focalized hair loss over the rump aka filet mignon for the flea.
Image courtesy www.dogchatforum.com
Reason # 2: I am in pain!
Image courtesy of www.veterinarypartner.vin.com
Reason # 3: I am really anxious!
Image courtesy of www.mspca.org
Carrie Vigeant D.V.M., mother of 3 boys, entrepreneur, wife, and foodie.
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