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Itchy skin in cats

Black cat on white background

Overview

  • Have you noticed your cat scratching more than usual? Do they constantly lick at certain parts of their body? Have they got red skin, alopecia, sores or stained fur?
  • Itchy skin is a very common problem and can be caused by many different conditions, some minor and some more serious.
  • Book an appointment with your vet if your cat has itchy skin - it’s a very uncomfortable problem that can make a cat feel miserable.

General information and causes

Most cats scratch every now and again, but excessive scratching indicates something is wrong. Itchy skin is a symptom of many different conditions including:

Symptoms of itchy skin in cats

Scratching/excessive licking isn’t normal if it happens regularly (more than 4-5 times day), and/or causes other symptoms such as:

Beware, some cats scratch and lick in private - keep an eye out for secretive scratching!

Picture showing bumps on cat's skin from itchy skin

This little cat has “Miliary dermatitis”, her owner felt bumps when stroking her.

When to contact your vet

Always contact your vet if you think your cat is scratching or licking themselves more than normal. Itchy skin can be very uncomfortable and shouldn’t be ignored.

Home remedies

The treatment required for an itchy skin problem depends entirely on what is causing it. It might be something you can manage at home, but it’s important to talk to your vet and find the cause before trying any treatment at home.

Published: August 2020

PetWise Pet Health Hub – brought to you thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery 

Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst