Itchy skin in cats

Allergies and Itchy skin in cats

All cats scratch every now and again, but if you notice your cat is itchier than normal or has dry and flaky skin, then it could potentially be a skin problem.

Cats are susceptible to a range of skin conditions, which may affect areas such as the outer ear canal, the pads and the claws, as well as the skin covering the rest of the body.

Signs your cat has a skin condition

It may be visible changes to your pet’s coat/skin or to their behaviour:

  • Scratching more than 4-5 times a day
  • Red or sore skin
  • Bald patches
  • Licking or chewing themselves
  • Flaky or scaly skin
  • Pain or flinching when scratching
  • Lump and bumps under the skin
  • A dull-looking coat
  • Excessive hair loss

What causes skin conditions in cats?

There are a several common causes of skin inflammation and irritation in cats. Some are relatively minor and easy to remedy, while others are more serious and difficult to treat:

  • Parasites- such as ear mites, lice and Fleas (Flea Allergy Dermatitis is a very common cause of skin disease in cats)
  • Ringworm (a contagious fungal infection that can be passed onto humans and other animals that is characterised by round areas with a red ring around the edges)
  • Seasonal allergies, including various pollen, dust and mould
  • Food allergies
  • Contact Dermatitis following exposure to certain chemicals or fabrics
  • Bacterial infections
  • Stress (which can cause pets to chew and lick at their skin)
  • Hormonal
  • Nutritional imbalances
  • Sun damage – just like us, too much sun can be a problem to feline skin, particularly for white cats which have very sensitive skin. White ears, noses and eyelids are particularly susceptible to sun damage
  • Pain elsewhere in the body – cats with feline lower urinary tract disease frequently over-groom the skin on their abdomen, leading to baldness of their tummies

How can you help to relieve skin conditions?

When talking to your Vet, ask for advice on how to:-

  1. Soothe the initial irritation
  2. Remove the allergens from the skin
  3. Help to repair and improve the skin barrier

Some of the treatments could include (depending on the cause):

  • Skin lotions and anti-inflammatory medications
  • An exclusion diet trial – where the cat is only given specific foods, as advised by the vet, to find out if there is a food allergy causing problems
  • Avoiding direct sunlight for light coloured and hairless breeds so that sunburn does not become an issue
  • Regular grooming to prevent matting of the fur
  • Allergy tests – by blood testing or performing direct skin allergy tests. Other blood tests may be needed to assess the cat’s overall health. Different diseases can lead to skin problems, such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes mellitus
  • Parasite control- a regular flea treatment

Keep an eye out for changes throughout the year and seek early advice from your Vet to avoid any skin issues getting too serious.


Visit our Animed Direct website for our full range of skin/allergy products and to search our prescriptions A-Z.