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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 18138
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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I wondered if you could give us some advice about the two cats

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I wondered if you could give us some advice about the two cats we have, they have been scratching really badly all of a sudden both of them, they don't go out a lot and don't stay out over night. One of them has chewed a patch out of the back of her neck and the other one has started scratching everywhere and chewing her nails. Diane
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm really sorry to hear about your kitties's excessive itchiness and grooming.
The most common reason for excessive grooming is allergies and the most common allergy is flea allergy dermatitis. Flea allergy dermatitis is horrible. In allergic cats it only takes one bite a month for them to itch like crazy. If you don't see any fleas you might not have a huge population. If you have other pets who aren't itchy they may not be allergic. Ideally you need to use flea control every 3 weeks during the summer/fall months in an allergic cat. Many over the counter products have a problem with fleas being resistant and some can be down right dangerous. I never recommend any products that Hartz or Sargent's make. I recommend Advantage II or Frontline Plus every 3 weeks for at least 4 months in an indoor kitty and year round in cats that go out side. All pets in the house must be treated as if you don't the nonallergic ones serve as a flea reservoir for the allergic one and you'll never solve your problem.
Inhaled allergies (to pollens, dust mites or mold spores) are another possibility, but two cats in one home with inhaled allergies would be less likely.
To control allergic (flea bite or inhaled) symptoms you can try:
1) Benadryl (diphenhydramine only, the combination products with decongestants and acetaminophen are toxic to cats) at 2mg to 4mg per kilogram of body weight every 8 hours. That's a half of 25mg tablet every 8 hours for a cat that is 4 to 7 kilograms.
2) Chlorpheniramine at a dose of 4mg per cat twice daily.
Combined with high doses of omega-3 fatty acids antihistamines work to relieve their itchiness. I like 3V caps or Derm Caps. I recommend a dose of omega 3 fatty acids based upon the EPA portion (eicosapentanoic acid) of the supplement as if we do that the rest of the supplement will be properly balanced. Give them each 20mg to 40mg of EPA per pound of body weight per day. For example a 4 kilogram cat could take 80mg to 160mg of EPA per day. Antihistamines and omega-3 fatty acids work synergistically, better together than either one alone. These should help reduce the itch. Be aware that antihistamines can cause drowsiness or hyperactivity which should resolve with continued use.
You can also use cortisone cream or spray on especially itchy areas.
Because they go outside other parasites like cheyletiella, demodex gatoi or sarcoptic mange and a fungal infection called ringworm are possible causes as well.
For now I would start with flea control, an antihistamine and omega 3 fatty acids. If they are not significantly better in 2 weeks then it's time for a veterinary examination to look further for problems.
Please let me know if you have further questions by replying to this post.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi just wondered if the cats when we stroke them on their backs they start licking their legs for some reason. Do you have any idea what this could be. Diane

Yes, the response that you are seeing means that they are very itchy, and your rubbing their backs stimulates them. Since you are already scratching the itchy area they respond by vigorously licking the closest thing, their legs.
If this continues I would check them for more parasites, specifically cheyletiella which makes them very itchy along the backline and causes increased skin dander.