Fleas are insidious pests that can plague your kitty with a variety of health problems, including itchy, irritated and sometimes even infected skin. Free your feline friend from these issues by bringing her to the vet for an exam and a dose of flea-fighting medication to kill off these pests.
The main skin issue that a flea infestation can cause for your feline friend is flea allergy dermatitis, also known as miliary dermatitis. Those little pests inject their saliva into your kitty's skin when they feed on her blood. While some felines have no reaction to the flea saliva, others experience an allergic reaction to it. This allergic reaction results in areas of inflamed skin covered with small red bumps and crusty lesions that are extremely itchy. These areas of irritation usually occur primarily around your feline friend's head, tummy, legs and base of her tail, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. For allergic kitties, just one or two flea bites can lead to an inflammatory reaction on the skin.
The extreme itching caused by your poor kitty's allergic reaction to flea saliva prompts her to constantly lick and scratch at the affected areas of skin. The excessive grooming leads to further irritation and hair loss on the skin. Left untreated, your furry friend eventually scratches her skin so much with her very sharp claws that she ends up lacerating her skin in those incredibly itchy spots. These breaks in the skin open your kitty up to all kinds of infections of the skin. Both bacterial and fungal infections can result from these open wounds. These infections require veterinary treatment and can spread to other parts of the body, including the blood, becoming a serious medical issue for your furry friend, according to PetMD.
If your kitty is allergic to flea bites, her body may react by forming eosinophil granulomas. Eosinophils are a kind of white blood cell present in your furry friend's blood that react to allergens the body detects, such as flea saliva, attacking them to protect the body from what they perceive as invaders. Unfortunately, this reaction causes itching and can lead to the formation of ulcers, deep lesions and painful skin growths, according to the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. Lesions and growths may appear mainly on the tummy, neck, lip, feet, thighs or backside. This condition requires veterinary care with steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics.
What To Do?
Kitties suffering from fleas, itchiness and secondary skin issues need veterinary care to rid them of the pests and provide them with relief for their itchy skin. Your vet will recommend an appropriate flea control treatment based on your kitty's weight, age and overall health. These medications may be either oral or topical and need to be re-administered as directed by your vet to provide continuous protection from fleas and their eggs. Your vet will also take skin scrapings to test for infections and examine your kitty for other signs of health problems. Secondary infections and skin conditions may require treatment with topical creams, shampoos and oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. Follow your vet's directions when giving or applying these medications. You'll also need to eliminate any fleas from your kitty's environment by thoroughly vacuuming carpets, mopping floors and washing her bedding in hot water.
- WebMD: Feline Miliary Dermatitis
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Fleas: A Source of Torment for Your Cat
- ASPCA: Skin Problems
- Feline Advisory Bureau: The Itchy Cat -- What to do When it is not Fleas
- DrBarchas.com: Fleas in Cats and Dogs
- Catster: 10 Common Cat Skin Problems
- WebMD: Ticks and Fleas on Cats Q&A
- PetMD: Flea Control and Flea Bite Allergies in Cats
- PetMD: Bacterial Infection (Pyoderma) of the Skin in Cats
- Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: EosinophIic Granuloma Complex
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.