How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. B. Your Own Question
Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22616
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
Type Your Vet Question Here...
Dr. B. is online now

My cat itches and grooms lots, has hair loss on some parts

This answer was rated:

My cat itches and grooms lots, has hair loss on some parts and it scabby under chin and back

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

How long has your cat had these signs?

Has he had any diet change in the past 4-6 weeks before this started?

When was he last treated for fleas and what did you use?

Any changes at home (ie new people, pets, animals in the neighborhood, babies, renovations, house moves, etc)?

Any exposure to air fresheners, candles, incense, new carpet powders, or laundry soaps?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Nothing new in diet. Occasional incense burnt. Always use front line. Is due for one. She always itchy though. They are on hills dry food for breakfast. Flexi for evening. Can I use aleo vera watered down ?

Thank you,

First, as I am sure you are aware, the mystery of what makes a cat have incessantly itchy skin can be a real challenge to get to the bottom of. It is because itchiness and hair pulling in cats can be caused by a number of things (just as it can with people).

The most common triggers for these conditions are either stress based or allergy based. In this situation, if there have been no changes to her environment and you are seeing her do this, then stress based overgrooming is much less likely here. Therefore, in this situation, we would need to consider this skin irritation and subsequent signs being related to allergies. And just like in people, allergies can be to literally anything in their kitty world. This includes food, parasites (like fleas), pollens, and anything that they essentially come into contact with.

With your additional history, if there has been no diet additions in the past 2 months or so, then hopefully dietary allergies can be ruled out here. As well, if sheis targeting her back/chin, rather then belly, tail, or feet; this makes contact allergies (ie to laundry or carpet powders less likely). Therefore, we'd need to consider environmental allergies (pollen and flea saliva).

Now as I am sure you can appreciate environmental allergies can arise due to a range of agents. Since she is showing signs this time of year, pollens would be less likely. Instead, we'd have to consider indoor allergens (ie storage mites, dust mites). Furthermore, while its great that you do regularly treat her for fleas, I do need to warn you that flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is still a major suspect if you have been treating with Frontline. The reason is because we have recently started to see flea resistance to this medication and I can tell you that I have seen numerous cases of treatment failure and therefore FAD in cats that have had Frontline here in the UK. Especially this past year, which was terrible for fleas (likely because of last years mild winter).

Therefore, in your lass's situation, the first step is to re-address the risk of flea allergy dermatitis. Even if you don't see fleas, this is important if she is a sensitive skinned cats. The reason why we need to still treat cats even if they are not covered with fleas is because the problem with wee kitties with sensitivities to fleas that they aren't allergic to the fleas themselves. They are allergic to its saliva. So, all it takes is one flea having a nibble to start things off (it could have even bit her and died from the Frontline but still have left its saliva to cause the irritation). The body releases histamines and the allergic response takes over. This is itchy and sore, so our cats may itch, scratch and pull out tufts of hair. They scratch which can irritate the skin even more, and its a vicious cycle (they itch b/c its itchy, but its itchier because they itched, if you know what I mean). As well, as they are causing damage to the skin from scratching, they will open the door for bacterial infection (which makes it even itchier). If it is flea saliva induced, the flea that may have bitten her to start off the last cycle is probably long since dead. Now cats caught in this kind of allergic response often respond well to religious monthly flea treatment but sometimes they need additional short term medications to help break the itchiness cycle. And since Frontline is letting us down more and more; I'd suggest using Advocate, Activyl, Stronghold, Revolution or Advantage II for her at this point. And as long as its been over a week since you applied the Frontline, you can retreat now.

Otherwise, since she sounds trapped in an allergic response and cannot break the itch/scratch cycle, I do want to note how we can address that. Specifically, we can do so by treating her with an anti-histamine. Anti-histamines can settle allergic skin reactions in early stages or mild cases since the skin irritation is an allergic response. Typically in these cases, we will use Piriton for these wee ones (ie 1-2mg or 1/4 – 1/2 tablet of a 4mg Piriton tablet up to twice daily). Do note that while anti-histamines will break that itchiness cycle and give her skin the chance it needs to settle, it can make kitties drowsy.

Therefore, we always keep the dose low and if shewere to be drowsy on this, then we'd reduce the dose to once daily for her. And of course, this medication shouldn't be used if your kitty has any pre-existing conditions or are on any other medication without speaking to your vet. That all said, if you treat her with this and shedoesn't settle or her irritation is very severe, then shemay require a short course of a steroids to allay the allergic skin response and associated itchiness.

Overall, the areas on her body that she is targeting with her overgrooming and based on her having had Frontline, I do need to warn you that this would be our top suspect here. Therefore, do consider re-treating with a more effective flea treatment and using antihistamines at this stage. If sheis willing to be bathed (though most cats aren't), you can also consider using an emollient shampoo ((ie Episoothe, or oatmeal based ones) to soothe her skin. If shecontinues to overgroom, then you may also have to consider using a buster collar or baby t-shirt (with an elasticated waist) to protect her skin. And if she isn't settling or is already in a severe state, then a course of long acting injection of steroid from her vet should soothe her skin and halt this for her.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you! : )

Dr. B. and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you