Is your kitten a little itchy? It's understandable to worry about the new baby in the house, but don't fret too much. Most skin problems aren't serious and only require basic treatment to cure. However, you should consult a veterinarian about your kitten's skin problems before taking any action.
Fleas are certainly a nuisance for an adult cat, but they are actually a legitimate health concern for kittens. Even a few fleas can really irritate and weaken a baby cat's body, so you want to get rid of them as soon as possible. Kittens can catch fleas from their mother or their environment. Cats should be at least a few months old before being treated with topical preventative ointments, so your best bet is to pick them off after bathing your kitten with warm water and a small amount of dish soap. Ask your vet about other kitten-safe flea management options.
Like most babies, kittens are very sensitive to pathogens and irritants in their environment. Dust and other tiny particles can irritate their skin, leading to redness, swelling and itchiness. Trace amounts of chemicals and fumes, particularly from cleaning solutions, can also cause rashes and other skin problems. Food allergies may also be to blame for your pet's discomfort, although kittens are unlikely to have these reactions until they start eating solid food.
You may not want to think about it, but there's a chance that your new kitten has a fungal or bacterial infection on his skin. Ringworm is a common fungal pathogen that can infect humans, dogs and cats of all ages, and is highly contagious. It is not particularly dangerous to adult and adolescent animals, but any health problem can be serious for a tiny kitten. There are topical and oral treatment for ringworm, so you should consult your vet about what method is appropriate. Kittens are at much higher risk of contracting a skin infection if their mother is also suffering from one.
While skin problems aren't usually much to worry about, you shouldn't ignore them either. There are some rarer conditions, including hereditary dysfunctions, that warrant an immediate trip to the vet. Some birth defects, including organ dysfunction, are also an unpleasant possibility. Don't get freaked out though, let your vet take a look at your pet before jumping to conclusions. Keep your kitten warm, safe and in a clean environment at all times. Look him over every few days to stay on top of new health developments.
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.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.