Itching in Cats

Is my cat crazy, or is there a reason they are licking and itching until their hair falls out?

Years ago, it was thought that over-grooming in cats was due to a psychogenic or anxiety issue.  Now we know that nearly all of these cases actually are itchy or have another internal condition.  Although conditions like anxiety may make the cat itch more, I have never seen a case where anxiety alone was the cause of the itchiness.

 

Atopic dermatitis and allergies, parasites (fleas, mites, lice), and dermatophytosis (ringworm) are the most common causes of itchiness in cats.

 

The diagnosis of atopic dermatitis and allergies involves ruling out all other causes of itchiness and responding to treatments. Like dogs, cats can have different types of allergies:  food, fleas, and environmental types.  Food allergies cannot be differentiated from environmental allergies by symptoms alone, a food trial must be performed with a home-made diet or a commercial prescription food. There are several medications to treat allergies in cats.  In addition, allergy testing and desensitization can be performed.  So if your cat is losing hair, we can help rule out other causes and formulate a relief-giving treatment tailored for your suffering cat.

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This cat has an allergy to flea bites.

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With allergies in cats, over-grooming the abdomen is common.  Some cats will create sores.

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This cat has allergies and is over-grooming the legs.