Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Itchy Kitty? Prickly Feline Skin Problems

Got a cat who's constantly scratching, licking, or biting himself? Think it might be fleas? That's a good guess -- and a good place to start. But if fleas don't seem to be the problem, your kitty's condition may be caused by one of the following:
Ringworm: Ringworm is not actually a worm, but a fungal infection, and one that can be spread to humans. So if your cat has the telltale circular lesions and bald spots of ringworm, take him to the vet for treatment as soon as possible.
Mites: Constant scratching, head shaking, and dark brown debris in your cat's ears may be a sign of ear mites. They're so tiny you won't be able to see them, but left untreated, they can lead to ruptured eardrums and seizures. Other types of mites can cause mange (scabies) and usually infect the outer ears, face, and neck.

Allergies: Like humans, cats can suffer allergic skin reactions to foods, fleas, pollens, molds, grasses, and dust. If all other irritants have been ruled out, talk to your vet about whether your kitty might be suffering from allergies.
Psychogenic alopecia: This is a fancy term for hair loss (alopecia) that's caused by stress-induced grooming and hair pulling. It's tricky to treat, because you're dealing with kitty's psyche. So start by thinking about what might be distressing your cat (a new pet or roommate, a change in environment, etc.).
If your cat is battling itchy skin -- whatever the cause -- make an appointment with your vet to pinpoint the cause and get kitty some soothing relief sooner rather than later.

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