Is Your Cat Itchy? Causes and Treatments for Itching in Cats

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio

Itching, or pruritis, in cats has various causes, so it’s a symptom of multiple problems. Sure, a cat will have an itch they need to scratch every now and then, just like people do. But if you see your cat scratching more than usual, or they’re scratching, licking, or biting themselves so much that they’re losing fur and causing cuts and scabs on their skin, there may be an underlying issue that should be addressed.

Whether your cat is scratching at one area or they’re itchy all over, don’t ignore this problem. Read on to learn about some of the causes of itchiness in cats, along with some of the things you can do to provide relief. Remember, it’s always best to consult a veterinarian about your cat’s symptoms so you can give your pet the right treatment.

Reasons Why Your Cat Is Itchy

Here are some of the conditions that can cause a cat to feel itchy:


A lot of things can cause an allergic reaction in cats that leads to itchy skin. For example, if your cat is allergic to an ingredient in their food, such as a particular protein, their allergy might manifest as itchiness. As another example, your cat might be allergic to something in the environment, such as dust in the house or pollen that blows in through a window. And some cats have contact allergies to products, from litter to plastic or fabric, that can cause a reaction. 

The goal is to find the allergen and remove it from your cat’s environment as best as possible. In the case of a food allergy, using food trials with the guidance of your vet can help you figure out what’s causing the reaction so you can start giving your cat food that’s appropriate for them. 


Bites from insects and parasites can cause your cat to feel itchy. Fleas and mites are a couple examples. And, yes, indoor cats can get fleas, as they could be brought in from outside and find their way to your feline.

When it comes to mites, such as ear mites or mange, your veterinarian can prescribe treatments after performing some tests for an accurate diagnosis.

For flea allergy dermatitis caused by flea bites, it’s a matter of eliminating the flea infestation and preventing future infestations. You can use over-the-counter products, such as Frontline Plus for Cats, which is a topical treatment you apply between your cat’s shoulders (where they won’t be able to lick it off). It kills flea eggs, flea larvae, and adult fleas, as well as ticks and chewing lice, and each dose works for a month. But you also need to thoroughly clean your home and your pet’s things to be sure you eliminate fleas in the environment.

Infections or medical conditions

Infections caused by fungi, bacteria, or yeast can cause a cat to feel itchy. An example of a fungal infection that may cause itching is ringworm. Steps need to be taken to ensure your pet gets the right treatment to get rid of the infection, so work with a veterinarian.

After running tests to diagnose the cause of infection, your vet can prescribe medication, such as an antifungal or an antibiotic, that will get to the source of the problem and give your pet relief. 

Also, certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune skin diseases, can cause itchy skin in cats. A veterinarian will be able to diagnose and treat those ailments.

Emotional Stress

Emotional triggers, such as stress or anxiety, might cause a cat to scratch or groom themselves excessively. So, if there isn’t a medical problem, allergy, or parasite to blame, consider if something in your pet’s environment or daily life is causing them to feel frazzled to the point that they’re scratching their skin.

What You Can Do to Stop Your Cat’s Itching

The remedy for your cat’s scratching will depend on the cause of the itchiness. You might be able to figure out the trigger on your own and provide treatment at home. 

For instance, to check for fleas, use a flea comb like the Hartz Groomer’s Best Flea Comb for Cats and Dogs. It has extra-fine teeth that can grab fleas and eggs, and the ergonomic handle makes it easy to use. Your cat will feel great as you brush them, and you’ll be able to see if fleas are causing the itching. 

For allergies, infections, parasites, and medical conditions that cause itching, work with your veterinarian, as your cat might need medications that will resolve the issue efficiently. You can also talk to your veterinarian about supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids or probiotics, that can be added to your kitty’s diet to support their skin and coat. 

Grooming your cat can help keep their skin and fur clean and healthy. A bath with warm water and a gentle shampoo made specifically for cats may provide itch relief while cleansing your kitty, but even just brushing can help remove irritants and debris that might cause itching.    

Don’t use a human medication, whether over-the-counter or prescription, to treat your cat’s itching, as it could be harmful or toxic. Only use products that your veterinarian has recommended.

Consult a Veterinarian About Your Itchy Cat

If you’re feeding your cat a high-quality diet, keeping your house clean, and brushing your pet regularly but they’re still itchy and scratching themselves a lot, talk to your veterinarian. There are tests that can be used to figure out what’s going on so you can give your cat the remedy they need.

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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.

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