What Is Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Cats?

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
Whether your cat is indoors or outdoors, fleas can become a huge problem. And Flea Allergy Dermatitis is just one of the issues that you’ll need to watch for.

Flea allergy dermatitis can affect kitties, so it’s wise to be aware of the symptoms and do what you can to give your pet relief. Check out the information below for a brief overview of what flea allergy dermatitis is and what its symptoms are.

Yes, Flea Allergy Dermatitis Is Caused by Fleas

A common allergy in felines, flea allergy dermatitis develops when your kitty is bitten by a flea. While some cats might only experience a bit of minor irritation when they have fleas, others will have a more severe reaction. For this reason, some cats might only be a little itchy even though they have fleas, while others might end up scratching themselves so much that they become susceptible to skin infections. For a kitty that’s allergic to fleas, just one bite can cause a serious and unpleasant reaction.

Related: Diatomaceous Earth for Cats: A Natural Flea Treatment

Put simply, antigens in flea saliva are to blame. Fleas bite into the skin to get the blood that they want to drink and, in the process, inject some of their saliva into the skin. If a flea bites a kitty that has flea allergy dermatitis, that saliva can cause itchiness, and the discomfort could even last for a few days. And, again, it can all happen from just one flea, so a cat doesn’t need to be infested with fleas to develop this allergic reaction.

Here Are Some of the Symptoms to Look Out For

When a cat has flea allergy dermatitis, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Intense itching
  • Scratching, chewing, and licking of the skin where fleabites occur
  • Hair loss, commonly around the neck, head, and tail base
  • Open sores on the skin
  • Small scabs on the skin, particularly around the head and neck area
  • Secondary bacterial infection on the skin

Oftentimes, the area that’s most affected by flea allergy dermatitis is over the kitty’s rump and in front of the tail. However, a cat with this allergy might also chew and lick her legs because of irritation there as well.

Related: Best Cat Flea Collars

Treatments Are Available to Help

As you probably already guessed, preventing fleabites is the best way to avoid flea allergy dermatitis. But if your cat is experiencing this allergic reaction, it’s important to talk to your vet to receive the appropriate treatment and resolve the problem so that your kitty can feel better.

With so many flea control products on the market, it can be difficult to choose the one that’s right for your cat, but your veterinarian can help. Plus, your vet can also give you tips on how to get rid of any fleas and flea eggs that might be in your home so that they can’t get on your cat again. By getting rid of the existing fleas, and preventing future infestations, you can also get rid of the flea allergy dermatitis that’s making your cat feel miserable.

If your cat has done quite a bit of damage to the skin, and if there are secondary infections, your vet can provide treatment for that as well. Your kitty might need medications that will reduce itching and help prevent further damage, or antibiotics might be necessary to get rid of an infection.

Work with Your Vet to Combat Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Any kitty can become allergic to fleabites, so it’s a great idea to take precautions that will help keep fleas away from your pet in the first place. If, however, your cat does get fleas, talk to your veterinarian about the best treatment to get rid of the pests and provide your feline friend with much-needed relief if she’s allergic to the bites.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

More by Lisa Selvaggio