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Cat Skin Allergies: Causes & Treatment

Cat Skin Allergies: Causes & Treatment

Cats can suffer from itchy and uncomfortable skin allergies just like us. If your cat is scratching uncontrollably it's time for a trip to the vet. Our Irvine vets explain the causes of cat skin allergies, and what you should do to help your cat feel better. 

How do I know if my cat has a skin allergy?

Your feline friend's skin should be soft and smooth to the touch. If your cat is suffering from a skin allergy or other skin condition you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Skin that is too oily
  • Skin feels too dry, flaky or scaly
  • Bald patches, hair loss
  • Red patches
  • Spots or pimples
  • Skin odor

If your cat is showing any of the symptoms above, it's time to head to the vet to investigate the cause of your cat's unhealthy skin condition.

What can cause skin allergies in cats?

Skin problems in cats are common. Many of the uncomfortable skin problems we see in our feline friends are actually due to factors such as parasites (fleas, lice or mites), hormonal imbalances, or bacterial infections rather than allergies.

When cats do suffer from skin allergies they can be caused by a reaction to almost anything but common allergens include flea bites, specific cat food ingredients or environmental factors like dust, pollen or mold.

How are skin allergies diagnosed?

The first thing that your vet will do is look for other causes of your kitty's skin condition, including parasites or a fungal infection such as ringworm. Once your vet has ruled out other conditions they will begin the process of determining the allergin that is affecting your cat's health.


Cat skin allergies are often caused by flea bites. Your vet will examine your kitty's coat and skin to look for signs of fleas which are typically easy to spot with the naked eye. If fleas aren't the cause of your cat's allergies your vet will begin asking about your cat's diet.

Food Allergies

Dietary allergies in cats can be tricky to diagnose and require a process of elimination and reintroduction of foods.

Your vet will prescribe a diet for your cat that has been formulated without many of the foods that cats can be allergic to. You will also need to refrain from feeding your kitty any treats that they normally enjoy. During the elimination period it is essential to follow your vet's instructions precisely.

After a number of weeks on the elimination diet, if your cat's skin has cleared up, your vet may ask you to begin feeding your cat their original diet once again to see if the symptoms return. If your cat's symptoms reappear then your cat is clearly sensitive or allergic to an ingredient in their original food.

Other Environmental Factors

If the elimination diet is unsuccessful at clearing up your kitty's skin then another environmental factor is likely to be the cause and further investigation into your cat's lifestyle will be required.

How can I treat my cat's skin allergies?

Skin allergies in cats that are caused by fleas, other parasites will be treated with appropriate medications which could include shampoos or topical treatments.

If your cat's skin allergy is due to a food sensitivity your vet will prescribe an allergen-free food for your cat or make other dietary recommendations. It is essential to continue feeding your kitty a diet that meets all of their nutritional needs while addressing their allergies. 

Many foods formulated specifically for cats with allergies have specially selected protein and carbohydrates that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. These foods may also contain ingredients to help soothe your cat's skin such as omega 3 long-chain fatty acids to help fight inflammation, and biotin, niacin and pantothenic acids to prevent dryness and protect against external irritants.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

Is your cat itching all day and night? Contact our Irvine vets today to schedule an appointment to get to the bottom of their skin condition.

Caring Connection: Man Tenderly Holding and Petting a Cat at Irvine Pet Hospital

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