Itchy grey British short hair cat.

You have a cat who seems to be itchy, but not a flea in sight… what could be going on? Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital can help. Read on to learn about feline skin diseases and dermatitis in cats.

Causes of an Itchy Cat

There are many different reasons a cat might be itching more than normal. Many people think to first look for fleas, and they are very smart to do so. Fleas are the most common cause of feline skin diseases. That doesn’t mean that there are no other reasons for a cat to be scratching, though.

Causes might include:

  • Did we say fleas? Unless your cat is on a quality, prescription flea prevention regularly, not seeing fleas doesn’t rule them out due to meticulous feline grooming habits
  • Food allergy or intolerance
  • Environmental allergies
  • Ear mites
  • Skin infection
  • Insect bites

Many feline skin diseases can appear quite similarly on the surface, so it is important to make an appointment to see us at the first signs of trouble. An accurate diagnosis means faster relief for your cat!

Managing Dermatitis in Cats

Knowing what we are treating is important so that we can offer appropriate treatment options to your cat. Sometimes diagnostics like skin cytology, blood tests, culture, and biopsy give us an answer. Other times we must treat a possible cause and assess the response. 

Dermatitis in cats may be managed differently depending on the underlying or suspected underlying cause.  

Management and treatment plans might include things like:

  • Topical treatments: Shampoos, mousses, and the like can be very helpful to soothe irritated skin, provide a protective barrier for sensitive skin, remove irritants, and sometimes provide things like antibacterial treatment.
  • Systemic antibiotics: In the case of cat skin infections (pyoderma), often systemic antibiotic therapy is key to successful treatment. Pyoderma is often secondary to other causes of dermatitis, but can be quite itchy in and of itself. 
  • Immunosuppressive therapy: When cats have an allergic component to itching, sometimes the use of immunosuppressive medications–such as steroids or cyclosporine–are necessary. 
  • Food recommendations: Food intolerances can result in dermatitis in cats. Oftentimes prescription diets are important to get our feline friends feeling better.
  • Immunomodulation: For cats with chronic skin allergies, sometimes allergy testing and the development of allergy vaccines is a worthwhile option to help the immune system to become less reactive over time. 
  • Flea prevention: Yes, flea prevention again. The only way to rule out fleas as a potential part of the problem is consistent, quality flea prevention. Most prescription flea preventions also help us to rule out other external parasites like skin mites and lice as well. 

Feline skin disease often presents in different ways. It may include visible scratching or licking, hair loss, self-induced wounds and sores, tiny crusts on the skin called miliary dermatitis, and/or red, raised areas called eosinophilic granulomas. 

If you have an itchy kitty, don’t hesitate to request an appointment so that we can get started helping.