If your cat is constantly scratching or chewing at his skin, it can be quite concerning. Luckily there are treatments for pruritus (itchy skin) that we can help you with at Anasazi Animal Clinic. Let’s look at the common causes of itchy skin to help determine a possible cause for your cat’s discomfort.
Although fleas generally dislike our hotter, drier weather, we should rule out these pests before looking into other issues. You may not see fleas on your cat, even if you comb through him. But the telltale signs of fleas are black grains that turn red when wet. Although unpleasant, these are flea feces and a sure sign your poor cat is suffering from fleas and flea allergy dermatitis. But before you use flea powder on your cat, contact us first. Many over-the-counter treatments can actually be extremely harmful to cats. We can give you an effective treatment, plus treat his dermatitis so he’s no longer itchy. If your cat has fleas, every other household pet will have to be treated for fleas as well to be sure they are eradicated.
Other Skin Parasites
If you’ve ruled out fleas, the next step is to rule out mites and other skin parasites. Some types of mites will make your cat miserable. If your cat goes outside, chances are he picked them up from another cat and needs treatment. We may do skin scrapings to determine if your cat has mites and give you the appropriate treatment. If you have other pets, once again, we may need to test and treat them for mites as well.
Sometimes a cat with itchy skin has food intolerances or allergies. In this case, we are likely to try to rule out allergies by putting your cat on a hypoallergenic diet with a novel protein such as venison or duck and a carbohydrate your cat hasn’t eaten such as pea. Your cat cannot have any other food while he is on this diet — meaning no outdoor excursions and no extra treats. This process can sometimes take approximately eight to 10 weeks. If we see an improvement in your cat’s skin, we know that he was allergic to something he ate. We recommend prescription diets because there is more control over the ingredients than pet food you can buy at a store and less likely to have allergens in them.
If you suspect that your cat is dealing with any of the above issues or you just aren’t sure why he is always scratching himself, contact us here at Anasazi Animal Clinic.