Itchiness in cats
If you have a cat in your household, you probably already know that cats have a habit of scratching and licking themselves clean quite often. This is a natural part of their behaviour as it is how they maintain their hygiene. However, something you as a cat owner should be aware of is if your cat is scratching or washing itself too often. Too frequent such behaviour may be a sign that the cat is suffering from more serious problems. In this article, we'll go through everything you need to know about itching in cats!
Cats and itching As we've just mentioned, it's very common, and perfectly normal, for a cat to both wash and scratch from time to time. The reason cats behave in this way is not just because these movements are how they keep themselves clean. The scratching comes from trying to relieve discomfort or irritation, just as we humans do if we have an itch.
The fact that washing and scratching can be seen as the same type of behaviour is simply because the cat can also relieve the discomfort with its rough tongue. So if you thought that a cat always washes when it licks its fur, that's not really true, but it can also mean that the cat is scratching. A cat can also scratch by using its paws, for example when itching from its ears. Itchy cats may also lick the fur off parts of their body, this is always abnormal and should be checked by a vet.
When is scratching and washing bad? As long as you don't experience any abnormal behaviour when it comes to your cat's scratching or washing, there's nothing to worry about - this is something that all cats do in one way or another. However, if you find that your cat is licking or washing more often or more intensely than usual, this may cause some problems.
Possible causes of your cat's intense scratching So what might this intense and consistent scratching or licking mean? In the vast majority of cases, one of three factors will cause the cat to feel the need to scratch more than usual; parasitic infections, skin problems and allergies.
Parasites in cats As unpleasant as it may sound, it is a fact that a cat can suffer from various parasitic infections every now and then. That is if it has been bitten by a parasite, for example, or if it has contracted a disease from a parasite. If it does not turn out that the cat has directly got an infection from a parasite, the cat may react to the fact that it has been sitting on its body, for example. Fleas and flea bites are a common example of a parasite that quite a few cats are affected by. If your cat is sensitive to this, it may experience discomfort from the bite, or just from its presence. Attacks from mites and scabies, are also a common example. This often results in intense itching.
Skin problems It is also common for the cat's intense itching to be caused by some kind of skin problem. Examples include various types of fungal infections (such as ringworm), acne or lack of moisture, which in turn leads to dry skin and itching. Skin problems often show up as red spots, sores, dryness and flaky skin. On the other hand, the cat may also appear to scratch or lick a lot because a lot of dirt or debris from the outside has become trapped. For example, if there are thorns, straws or seeds stuck in the fur or on the skin, the cat will do everything it can to remove them.
Allergy Another common reason for cats scratching more than usual is that they have become allergic. If the allergy causes problems with the skin or coat, this can lead to discomfort that the cat will want to address by scratching.
Allergies are usually caused by one of the following; food, fleas or allergens in different environments. If for some reason the cat is found to be particularly sensitive or allergic to some aspect of the various categories, this can upset the cat's system and then lead to itching.
How can I help my cat? If you find that your cat is itching or licking excessively, this could be a sign that it has been attacked by a parasite, or that it is suffering from a skin problem or allergy. Regardless of how, when and by what your cat reacts, we would always recommend that you visit the vet if the problem seems to be ongoing. At the same time, it's important to remember that scratching, scratching and licking are part of your cat's natural cleansing ritual, as well as being a natural reaction to relieve discomfort. So it doesn't always mean that something is wrong or strange. You know your cat best!
Remember, as a Lassie insurance customer, you can always contact the online vet FirstVet for advice directly in our app.