Itchy skin (and associated skin sores or hair loss) is really just a symptom and can be the result of many underlying causes. In this case, we really need to find the cause of the itchy skin (causing licking, scratching and hair loss) so that we can treat their problem (not just the symptom). This will help us reach the best treatment plan too.
Some of the underlying causes of itchy skin in a cat might be:
1. Fleas (most common): A single bite can cause your cat to be very itchy. Lesions tend to be more at the back of the body. If you’re looking for evidence of the flea/s, you might not always find it (your cat may have already removed it). Lesions tend to be more at the back end of your cat but can occur anywhere on their body.
2. Inhaled allergies (atopy): this itch is due to allergens such as dust or pollen inhaled in the air. It’s more of an all-over body itch. You might notice it starts seasonally, but it can build up to being year-round too. It tends to be all over the body.
3. Food allergy: This is usually due to a protein in food––believe it or not, fish and beef are common causes. The itch can be anywhere on the body and tends to occur all year round. Itch mainly affects the head and face but can be anywhere on the body.
4. Contact allergies: when your cat gets itchy after physically coming into contact with an irritant. An example here would be a chemical used to clean carpet for example. The itch is wherever the allergen touches, which tends to be the underside of the body and the paws.
5. Insect bites: Biting flying insects such as mosquitoes can cause intense itch and tend to bite non-haired areas such as the bridge of the nose. These cats tend to have lesions over their nose, face and ears.
6. Ear Mites: these are a major cause of ear inflammation and infection, and also cause itch over the head and neck.
7. Stress-induced over-grooming: This is a diagnosis of exclusion of other causes. Underlying medical causes for self-induced hair loss must be ruled out first, before attributing the problem to a behavioural condition.Its important to be aware that there may be more than one cause for your itchy cat and that there are other less common causes not listed above.
Its important to be aware that there may be more than one cause for your itchy cat, and that there are other less common causes not listed above.
See our next post will look at ways to manage your itchy cat here.
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