Skin problems in cats
30 July 2016
When our skin feels irritated, we will itch and scratch until it starts to hurt or the irritation subsides. This is the same for cats except that, whereas we know when to stop, cats will scratch themselves until they are red raw.
Far from helping the situation, excessive scratching, licking of affected areas only exacerbates the problems and may cause secondary bacterial infections to develop. It’s a vi-cious cycle of self-harm. Cats with skin complaints may dis-play lesions, flaky skin, bald patches and angry-looking rashes.
Knowing what is behind your cat’s skin complaint is half the battle as many causes prompt similar symptoms that make finding the right treatment difficult. Skin com-plaints can be triggered by a range of issues, like fleas and parasites, to allergies, environmental chang-es and stress, with each requiring a very different course of treatment. So getting the diagnosis right is so important.
When it comes to fleas in cats, prevention is the best defence. It can just take one bite from a flea to set off severe scratching that can last up to two weeks. Other parasites, such as ear mites cause intense irritation in their hosts and can produce redness and swelling of the skin. Infested cats then itch, scratch and bite themselves manically until the discomfort subsides.
(If you suspect there is a parasitic infection, take your cat straight to the vet. Scabies is easily transmissible to humans and other domestic animals so treat it immediately.)
Allergies, whether seasonal or food-related are another common cause of skin problems. The most common offenders being chicken, beef, corn, wheat and soya. Dietary fillers such as cereal and corn are known to exacerbate skin problems and make itching worse.
The old maxim ‘you are what you eat’ especially ap-plies to skin and coats. A shiny coat and healthy skin are good reflections of one’s health.
If you give your cats supplements they may contain one or two skin friendly ingredients, but it is best to choose one that contains a wide range of nutrients which will work together to give full support.
When considering specific sup-port for cats, look out for the ami-no acid taurine which is often lacking in the feline diet, and can result in hair loss. By combining these key skin-friendly nutrients in your supplement, you can en-sure that your cat is getting the best support possible to keep him looking great from the inside out, all year round.