Fleas can cause cats to itch for the obvious reasons: a flea bite causes a small wound that can become infected and irritated. But while that's bad enough, cats can suffer from other kinds of problems from flea bites, too. Some of these issues can cause excessive itching that doesn't get better with time. Here's what you should do if you think your cat is scratching too much.
What It Is
Flea dermatitis is a real skin condition where the skin becomes severely irritated from the mere presence of fleas. In essence, it's a skin allergy that responds to either the flea itself or the excrement that it leaves behind after eating, otherwise known as flea dirt. Unfortunately, flea dirt is often left behind by fleas after they bite, even if they jump and leave your cat alone.
In comparison to itching from bites, flea dermatitis isn't necessarily localized. Once your cat breaks out in it, much more of their skin could be irritated by the dermatitis reaction than from multiple bites.
Why It Shouldn't Be Ignored
Flea dermatitis needs medical attention to get better. Unfortunately, many cats experience negative side effects while waiting for treatment.
Since flea dermatitis itches so badly, cats find themselves scratching endlessly in an effort to find relief. However, with their sharp claws, they can easily begin to start harming themselves. With enough scratching, they can tear open their skin, and then they're exposed to the risk of infection. Once this occurs, they need immediate and emergency medical care before the infection becomes severe enough to be life-threatening.
What to Do
If you think that your cat is scratching excessively from fleas, seek help from a veterinarian at an animal hospital, such as the Animal Emergency Clinic.
When you're seen, your cat's body will be examined. It's typically quite easy for a vet to tell if the problem is individual bites or flea dermatitis. Whether your cat has flea dermatitis or an infection that's itching and pestering them, your vet will be able to help by prescribing antibiotics and offering dermal creams that can help to soothe the itch. Your cat may also be sent home with an e-collar to help prevent them from licking the area while it's irritated and medicated.
Flea dermatitis can put your cat in a world of misery from the presence of as little as a single flea. Don't ignore your cat's potential skin allergy. Visit your vet and get the help they need, and then immediately begin treating your cat regularly with anti-flea products to prevent future outbreaks.