Steroid Alternatives for Itchy Skin in Cats

"I'll do anything for a humidifier and a shot of fish oil!"
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When Ms. Kitty is in the midst of a skin flare-up, it might seem natural to opt for a corticosteroid injection to ease her misery. Not so fast. Many non-steroidal treatments for skin irritation can quell her itch-scratch cycle and have her purring with relief.

Essential Fatty Acids

Consider fatty acid supplements if your cat is prone to dry skin and itchiness. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) help moisturize her skin from the inside out. A well-moisturized feline coat produces oils that protect the skin from dryness and environmental irritants. Omega-3 fatty acid is a natural anti-inflammatory, while omega-6 contains linoleic acid important for both skin and coat health. Fish oils, such as salmon, contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids and might even be palatable enough for Ms. Kitty to let you squirt a bit on top of her normal food. Other EFA-rich ingredients to look for in many cat foods include flaxseed, flaxseed oil, soybean, soybean oil and olive oil. Consult your veterinarian before beginning kitty on any supplement program.


Good news for your feline friends: Antihistamines are a substantially more reliable method of controlling inflammation and itchiness in cats than in dogs, reports. Antihistamines such as Benadryl, Zyrtec and hydroxizine block the histamine molecules that signal your cat’s itch-scratch cycle. Though not a holistic approach, antihistamines are safer for Ms. Kitty than corticosteroids, which can cause systemic side effects. The most common side effect associated with antihistamines is drowsiness. Talk to your vet before you share the contents of your medicine cabinet with Ms. Kitty.

Natural Topicals

Colloidal oatmeal sprays, shampoos and lotions work to pull inflammatory toxins out of the skin; the oatmeal literally absorbs the toxins causing your kitty to scratch herself silly. Witch hazel is another natural liquid to try if her skin is red and inflamed. It has a cooling effect on her skin. Pure, 100 percent aloe vera gel contains enzymes that break down anti-inflammatory proteins and promote hydration and healing. It’s important to use all natural, pure aloe vera instead of lotions or creams that contain other ingredients that could be harmful for Ms. Kitty to ingest if she decides to lick at the area.


Humidifiers aren’t just for use when you’re congested, they can help rehydrate Ms. Kitty’s dry, itchy skin. Lack of moisture in the environment is often a cause of dry skin in cats. This is especially true in arid environments or during the winter when heaters constantly blow out dry, hot air. Turn on the humidifier and let her skin soak up the benefits.

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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