Causes and Remedies to Help Cats with Itchy Skin
Itchy skin can be a fairly common issue for cats, and figuring out the root cause of the problem is important when it comes to honing in on a solution to improve your cat’s overall well-being. Here are some of the more common causes of itchy skin and some of the ways you can help your cat get some relief.
The issue: Fleas & ticks
The treatment: Fleas & ticks are a particularly common cause of itchy skin, especially for cats who go outside or have canine siblings. Cats who are bitten by fleas can develop a reaction to flea saliva, resulting in excessive itching, bare spots on their coat, red or irritated skin and even visible sores. Fortunately, there are plenty of flea & tick control options that can help, including shampoos, collars, spot-on treatments and oral prescription medications. By keeping your pet on a year-round pest prevention plan, you can help them avoid the discomfort of itchy skin caused by fleas or ticks. To keep the pest population under control, it’s also important to treat your yard and home. Whatever products you decide to use, however,make sure they are specifically formulated for cats, since dog products can be harmful for your cat. Routine grooming can also help. The more attention you pay to your cat’s skin and coat the more likely you’ll be to spot potential issues early.
The issue: Dry skin
The treatment: Cats can develop dry skin for a number of reasons, including a nutritional deficiency, low humidity in their environment and age, among others. If your cat has visibly dry or flaky skin, schedule a trip to the veterinarian to help figure out the cause. If your cat’s skin is reacting to low humidity in your home, a humidifier in the room where your cat spends the majority of their time can be a quick fix. Flaky, dry skin can also be treated through diet (some options are specific to skin conditions) or cat supplements—omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as vitamins C, E and A all help promote healthy skin. Shampoos that contain oatmeal can also help ease skin irritation.
The issue: Allergies
The treatment: Both food and environmental allergies can impact your cat’s skin, and singling out the specific trigger will require a little help from your veterinarian. While food allergies are somewhat rare, a change in diet for a cat with a food sensitivity can help effectively eliminate skin problems. Environmental factors can be more difficult to determine since your cat likely comes into contact with a lot of different elements, both in your home and potentially outdoors. Start by taking note of recent changes in detergents, soaps, cleaners, et cetera. Since the process of discovering what’s causing your cat to itch from allergies starts with your veterinarian, make an appointment and be sure to ask about interim relief options. Anti-itch remedies like hypoallergenic shampoos can also be effective in some cases.
The issue: Seasonal changes
The treatment: Tied into environmental allergies could be your cat’s reaction to changes in the season. Just like humans, cats can develop allergies to particles in the air or on plants and other things that change from month to month. If you’ve noticed that your cat gets itchy skin at the same time every year, mention it to your veterinarian and ask about common seasonal allergens you should be on the lookout for. Your veterinarian can also help you determine the best course of action for seasonal allergy issues, including sprays and shampoos, among other things.
Staying on top of your cat’s skin health with regular inspections is another way to discover problems—and figure out a solution—before they get uncomfortable. Check your cat’s skin daily for dryness, flaking, cuts, redness, scratches, lumps or patches of hair loss, or signs of fleas and ticks. If you discover an issue, make an appointment with a veterinarian to discuss potential causes and treatment options.