Rashes & Hives in Cats

Fleas are the most common cat allergy.
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If you've ever had a rash, you know how annoying that red, itchy skin can be. When Kitty itches, he'll scratch with his paws, roll around or groom a lot. Figuring out what is causing Kitty's itchy skin will help bring him some much needed relief.


Hives crop up when Kitty has an immediate allergic reaction to something in his environment. This could be because of a bug bite or maybe you've given him a new kind of food. You'll recognize hives as round, red spots that can appear anywhere on his body. He'll also fluff up, like he does when he's scared, because his fur will stand on end. Once the allergen is removed, the hives will go away in about 24 hours.


The most common cat allergy, fleas are no fun for Kitty. Fleas are tiny bugs that live off Kitty's blood and take up residence in his fur. If Kitty is allergic to flea saliva, then he'll get red, itchy bumps wherever he's been bitten. Even once you've killed off all the fleas, the rash can persist for a while. The best way to prevent flea allergies is to prevent the fleas themselves. Put Kitty on a monthly flea treatment year round to keep the little bugs from making a home of your pet.

Food Allergy

If Kitty is allergic to his food, he can develop hair loss and a rash on his skin. Kitty may also throw up or have diarrhea when he eats the offending food. His vet can perform skin tests to determine what Kitty is allergic to. A special diet that removes potential allergens, like dyes or flavorings, may be necessary to find out what is causing Kitty discomfort. Once you've determined the allergy, keeping him on a diet that doesn't include the ingredient he's allergic to should eliminate symptoms.

Contact Dermititis

Contact dermatitis is a rash that occurs when Kitty comes in contact with something that irritates his skin. This may be poison ivy, a household cleaner or a new kitty litter. Contact dermatitis is not always the result of an allergy, which involves an immune response. It can occur if something is simply irritating to Kitty's skin. If the reaction is to something that's been in your home for a while, it's probably an allergy since it appeared after continued exposure. If it's simply an irritant, his skin will break out after the first time he's exposed. If it is an allergy, antihistamines can help suppress an immune response and relieve his symptoms. Keeping his environment clean and free of irritants or allergens should make the rash disappear.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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