Has your cat's coat gone from soft and lush to rough and ragged? Does your cat appear to be itchy, perhaps with signs of skin irritation like red patches or scabs? It's important to get to the bottom of this issue so your cat can be comfortable again. Here are three of the most common explanations for itchy skin, hair loss, and irritation in cats.
Many cat owners assume that their cats can't have fleas because they do not go outside. But indoor cats can get fleas, too. You might bring fleas in on your shoes after walking in the yard, or even on your clothing after visiting another pet at a friend's house. All it takes is a couple of adult fleas, and before you know it, you have an infestation.
Some cats are super-reactive to fleas. They have a condition called flea allergy dermatitis, which causes their skin to become dry and scabby whenever flea saliva is present. To tell if fleas are to blame for your cat's itchiness, look at her bed after she gets up from a nap. Are there little black specs? These are flea eggs. You may even see the fleas if you part your cat's hair with a comb, particularly at the back of the neck or base of the tail.
Your vet can give you a topical medication that you can apply to the base of your cat's neck, eliminating the fleas. You should also give monthly treatments to keep the fleas from coming back. It may take your cat's skin a few weeks to completely heal after the fleas are gone.
Are the patches of redness and hair loss circular? Then your cat is probably suffering from ringworm, a confusingly named fungal infection that causes this unique pattern of hairloss. Ringworm is contagious to humans, so until your cat is treated by the vet, be very careful in handling her and any items she has come into contact with. If you notice patches of itchy, red skin on your own body, see your doctor.
If your vet has ruled our fleas and the hairloss is not in a circular pattern, then you may be dealing with an allergic reaction. Though cats can have environmental allergies, hairloss and itchiness is usually the result of an allergy to something in the cat's food. Try switching her to an all-natural pet food brand with as few ingredients and additives as possible, and see if this helps. There are formulas made specifically for cats with itchy, irritated skin. Your vet should be able to recommend a specific brand.
For more information, contact companies like Ark Veterinary Hospital.