If your kitty spends more time licking and scratching at her skin than she does napping or batting around her toys, something definitely needs to be done to give her some relief. Bring your itchy feline friend to the vet to determine a treatment plan for her irritated skin.
One of the main causes of itchy skin in kitties is the presence of external parasites like fleas, ticks, lice and mites. If you see any crawly creatures in the areas your furry friend is consistently licking, alert your vet to this. He may recommend applying a topical flea preventative to your kitty's skin. These medications also work on other types of parasites, to rid your kitty of these pests. Your furry buddy may also need bathing with a prescription shampoo or medicated dip to help soothe her itching skin and kill off the pests causing her discomfort.
Skin infections can cause severe itching, also referred to as pruritus, resulting in excessive licking and scratching. These infections could be the result of another trigger, such as parasites or skin allergies, which causes your kitty to scratch or lick her skin raw, opening herself up to such infections. They may also occur when your furry friend's immune system is compromised. Some fungal infections, like ringworm, are contagious to people so take precautions when handling your kitty and wear gloves when applying medications. Your vet will take skin scrapings to determine the exact cause of the infection and give you topical and oral antibiotics or anti-fungal medications to help heal the infected areas.
Just like people, kitties have allergies, too, which can cause itchy, dry, red and flaky skin. Food allergies, contact allergies and inhalant allergies may lead to itching for your kitty. If no parasitic or skin infections are present, your vet may put your furry friend on a hypoallergenic diet for several weeks to see if that affects the problem. Should that fail to help, inhalant allergies, also referred to as atopy, caused by dust or pollen could be to blame for your kitty's itchy skin. To treat atopy or contact allergies, your vet may prescribe corticosteroids, antihistamines, allergy shots or essential fatty acids to help relieve your kitty's inflamed, itchy skin, according to the Feline Advisory Bureau. He may also perform skin tests to see if the cause of the allergy can be determined and then the trigger eliminated from the environment, if possible.
Underlying Medical Condition
If no parasites or allergies are the cause of your furry buddy's itching, an underlying medical condition could be to blame. Such conditions, like a virus or autoimmune disease, can suppress your kitty's immune system, opening her up to serious infections like pyoderma, according to PetPlace. While treating the infection will give your kitty some relief from the itching, it's just a symptom of a disease that needs treatment to prevent more of these infections from occurring. To diagnose such conditions, your vet will take blood tests and may perform other diagnostic tests as well, depending on what conditions are suspected.
The first step in giving your furry friend some relief from compulsive itching is to get her to the vet so he can determine the cause, which may take some trial and error, especially when dealing with allergies. While her skin is healing from excessive scratching, you may need to cover it with a bandage or use an Elizabethan collar to protect the itchy areas from your kitty's licking and sharp claws.
In some cases, your kitty's itching and licking could simply be the result of boredom or stress, which can result in compulsive licking or biting at her skin, according to WebMD. Keep your kitty's environment as calm as possible to avoid such issues and provide her with plenty of toys to play with and cat trees to climb.
- PetPlace: Itch, Itch, Itch -- When Your Cat Can't Stop Scratching
- WebMD: Cats and Compulsive Scratching, Licking, and Chewing
- Feline Advisory Bureau: The Itchy Cat -- What to do When it is Not Fleas
- 2ndchance.info: Why Is My Dog Or Cat Itching & Scratching? -- Allergies in Your Pet
- Newport Harbor Animal Hospital: Why is My Cat Itchy?
- PetMD: Itch-And-Scratch-Bite-And-Lick!
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Skin Problems
- PetPlace: Miliary Dermatitis
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.