Pruritic Cat

Pruritic Cat
Pruritic Cat. Photo: Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic, Inc. and published here with their express permission.
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I thought this video may interest some visitors. It is distressing though. Pruritic cat means a cat suffering from chronic itching. In this case the legs and feet itch. The tortoiseshell cat constantly licks them. It is the human equivalent of scratching to alleviate and itch. The hair has been removed. We don’t know the diagnosis. It would have been good as this veterinary clinic looks very good although I have not had the pleasure of visiting.

I am tempted to speculate. It looks like contact dermatitis. There is something on the floor or an item of furniture in the home to which the cat is allergic. This is almost certainly a huge oversimplification. I won’t attempt to diagnose it. It looks horribly irritating. You’d want to do anything and quickly to spare the cat more itching.

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

Here is a bit more about pruritus in cats. It comes from Karen Moriello, DVM, Department of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Pruritus” is the medical term for itching which provokes a desire to scratch in humans and to lick in cats because the spines on their tongue scratch the skin relieving the itching.

Pruritus is a symptom of an underlying health problem. The over-grooming leading to loss of hair is simply a reaction to that symptom. The most common causes are allergies, infections and parasites. A secondary bacterial or yeast infection subsequent to a disease may cause itching as well. The original disease may have disappeared by the time the cat is grooming to alleviate the it.

Itching may be general or it may be local. In the photograph and video, it is local to the lower legs and paws. The reaction as mentioned is over-grooming or even biting and scratching. To diagnose the cause, veterinarians do a thorough physical examination and a skin history. They will take skin scrapings and flea comb to check for parasites and utilise trial treatments with appropriate insecticides.

The next phase in diagnosis is to check for bacterial, yeast and fungal infections. One fungal infection which is very common is ringworm. Antifungal drugs can be used.

If the causes above are ticked off through test and trial treatments but the itching persists, the underlying cause may be an allergy. Insect bites, food allergies and inhaled allergies are the most common. Some cats are sensitive to insect bites including flea bites. The flea bite allergy can be quite devastating if left untreated because cat scratch and self-mutilate. It is called feline miliary dermatitis.

If the allergic itching is year-round it points to a food allergy or an allergy to house dust mites. To identify a food allergy a veterinarian will do diet trials and record the response. Hypoallergenic cat food is designed to eliminate food allergies.

Everything is designed to detect the underlying cause and if it can’t be found the itching has to be controlled through medical management.


3 thoughts on “Pruritic Cat”

  1. I’m interested to see what all kind of allergens in the home and how to take care of them at home cuz I can’t always afford to see a vet

    • This is a very difficult topic to address because there are many sources for allergens in the home. And these allergens can affect a human and a cat or any other animal in the home. Perhaps the biggest almost prevalent allergen in the home for a cat is the food they eat. Some cats are allergic to certain constituents of commercially prepared cat food. And of course there are airborne allergens particularly outside but also inside the home.

    • I need to add some more information. Sorry but I didn’t mean to publish my previous comment. Allergens enter the body through the lungs (pollens, house dust, for example), the digestive tract (eating certain foods); by injection (insect bites and vaccinations); or by direct absorption through the skin. The main sign of skin involvement is severe itching.

      The most common food allergens are chicken, fish, corn, wheat, and soy; cats may also develop a food allergy to beef, pork, dairy products, or eggs. The allergy causes an itchy rash on the head, neck and back. The eyelids might be swollen. Sometimes food allergies produce diarrhoea or vomiting. The ears can be very red and inflamed. The ears might itch and a cat might scratch them causing more damage.

      This is a very complicated and large area. You have encouraged me to consider writing an article about it and if I do I will link to it in a further comment. Good luck.


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