When it comes to your cat’s overall health, there are homeopathic remedies you can use that may be just as effective as their chemical-treatment equivalents. Because skin is one of the largest organs of a mammals’ body, taking proper care of your cat includes addressing and treating any skin conditions, even if they appear minor.
Therefore, it’s important to conduct routine inspections of your cat’s coat and skin, including his fur, claws, padding on his feet, and skin inside the ears. If you detect anything abnormal, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian to address the possibility of underlying health issues.
Depending on the severity of pre-existing skin diseases or ailments, a natural course of treatment may be the best solution for you and your pet. In this article, we’ll identify common cat skin conditions and explore helpful suggestions for at-home remedies that may provide your furry friend with natural relief.
Identifying Skin Conditions in Cats
Before administering any type of treatment, the first step in creating a maintenance routine for your kitty’s skin and coat is to inspect him thoroughly. It may be a bit more difficult to recognize skin problems in cats since their hair covers the majority of their bodies.
Therefore, inspecting them carefully is essential to maintaining optimal pet health. The best way to check for abnormalities is to brush your cat while carefully moving your hand against the grain, so that you may examine the skin for any signs of dermatitis or irritation.
Some cat skin problems to look for include:
- Cuts or lacerations
- Fleas and ticks
- Hair loss
- Insect bites
- Lesions or abrasions
- Pimples or cysts
- Redness or inflammation
If you notice any of these conditions (particularly if the symptoms are severe or persistent), it’s best to consult with your veterinarian before beginning any course of treatment.
Fleas: Establishing A Routine for Prevention
Although fleas are common and can be routinely managed at home with over-the-counter treatments, your vet can provide you with a comprehensive course of preventative measures and appropriate medications. In certain cases, your cat may actually be allergic to flea bites, which is due to a reaction from the insect’s saliva.
Some symptoms associated with flea allergies include:
- Biting or pulling at the hair/fur and skin
- Small skin lesions that are red and inflamed
- Hair loss (alopecia)
- ‘Hot spots’ (technically referred to as acute moist dermatitis)
Depending on your geographical location, your cat’s allergic condition may be seasonal, as fleas are typically prevalent in the warmer months. You can help reduce existing fleas by combing your cat with a flea comb, along with keeping him indoors as much as possible.
Ultimately, the best line of defense includes a topical flea product that both kills and repels fleas; however, you may wish to ask your vet for suggestions. This is especially noteworthy if your cat suffers from feline allergies, pre-existing feline skin conditions or a known flea allergy, as some store-bought medications and treatments can actually make your pet’s symptoms worse.
Cat Skin Allergies: Knowing The Signs & Symptoms
One of the most common causes of feline skin problems is allergies. However, the challenge is determining the allergens affecting your cat. Typically, your vet will run a series of tests to determine the source of your cat’s skin condition. Once your vet has ruled out other possible cat skin diseases, the next step is identifying what type of allergy your cat suffers from.
There are a number of common cat allergies (in addition to flea allergies) pet owners should be aware of, including:
Food allergies: Just like their owners, cats can experience food allergies, too. Some of the symptoms include:
- Frequent ear infections
- Interdigital dermatitis (inflammation between the toes)
- Itching, wheezing, sneezing, and coughing
- Pimples and rashes
- Pulling out hair/hair loss (alopecia)
- Recurrent diarrhea or vomiting
- Red or inflamed patches of skin
- Rubbing or persistent scratching
Some of the foods associated with allergic reactions include wheat and yeast, soy, dairy products, beef, fish and poultry, among others. While it is tricky to figure out the exact foods your cat is allergic to, your veterinarian will screen your cat through a series of lab work to ascertain the results.
Once you know which types of foods to avoid, an elimination diet (introducing one type of food at a time and monitoring your kitty’s reaction) may be a course of action worth exploring. In this case, pet owners must become diligent label-readers and check for ingredients that may cause a reaction. One of the easiest ways to avoid mistakes is to bring a list of your pet’s known allergens to the pet store where you purchase your cat’s food; if you are unsure as to the most appropriate brand, a staff member can usually be of assistance.
You can also go on the pet food brand’s website to conduct further ingredient research, or ask your vet for safe pet food recommendations. Although buying organic food is typically healthier for your cat, it’s still important to read the labels: just because it’s touted as ‘all-natural’ doesn’t ensure that it is free of food allergens.
As you discover what works (and what doesn’t) during mealtime, be sure to monitor your cat’s reactions and general health – over time, symptoms should be minimized if you follow a careful diet. You may also wish to ask your vet if a dietary supplement can further boost their immune system.
Contact dermatitis & other cat skin conditions: A less common skin ailment, contact dermatitis is defined as a condition where your cat is allergic to environmental substances they come in contact with.
Tell-tale symptoms include:
- Inflammation around the mouth/muzzle
- Irritation under the chin that may include pimples or lesions
Some of the substances cats have been known to have allergic reactions to include petroleum-based materials (such as plastic), rubber, nylon, detergents and other chemicals, and even plant-based allergens such as poison ivy.
Many cats will display an allergic reaction to common household items, such as their water dish or a favorite toy containing the offending substance. If you notice sudden allergic reactions and are able to identify the source, you can make simple changes, such as switching out your kitty’s plastic water dish with a stainless steel bowl. If you are still uncertain as to the cause of your feline companion’s allergic reactions, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian.
Other cats may suffer from allergic dermatitis, which is a broad terminology used to describe chronic allergies. If you have an outdoor cat, it’s especially important to inspect his coat on a regular basis to check for any skin irregularities, particularly if he’s prone to skin allergies.
One of the easiest ways to ensure he’s free of pollen, mold spores or other environmental debris is to wipe your cat down with a clean, damp towel every time he returns to the house.
Other factors that may be the culprit for your cat’s skin condition include lice, ticks, parasites, mites, mange, fungal infections, and even anxiety disorders (including OCD).
Some other underlying health conditions linked to dry skin include but are not limited to:
Cats are also susceptible to yeast infections, espe