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Cat Coat and Skin Problems

by Vivien
(west midlands)

I have a female cat who is always licking at her tummy/chest. She seems to have itchy skin - not fleas. It could be an allergic reaction to being bitten by a flea in the past.I have started to give her "Exmarid dry skin formula with starflower oil" and this oil does seem to help her coat.


Cat Health Guide Editor Suggestion:

Cat Skin allergies may have several causes such as flea bites, pollen and food. Several food ingredients can act as an allergen. Fish, chicken, beef and some dairy products are common cat food allergens.

Food allergy is the most common cause of cat skin problems, including skin dryness and itching. Itching can lead to secondary skin infections, generalized illness and prominent lesions. Itching and lesions will mostly appear on the abdomen, inguinal region (groin), ears, neck and head. The symptoms of food allergy usually start at the abdomen, tummy or inguinal region.

Cat flea bite allergy can be another possibility, but it never remains limited to a specific area, such as the abdomen.

In this case it seems that the culprit lies in the food you are giving to your cat. Moreover, if symptoms of licking and itching are only limited to the abdomen/tummy, it means that whatever food is causing the allergic reaction is a small part of whatever diet you are feeding your cat.

Our suggestion for this cat skin problem is to monitor the symptoms closely, watch out for skin dryness and the presence of any lesions or exudates (any fluids) on the skin. Additionally, see if your cat food contains chicken, beef, fish, dairy products or corn? Some cats might be allergic to any of these components.

The Exmarid dry skin formula you mentioned is effective, but it only addresses the symptoms of your cat's condition. It can reduce cat skin dryness, which will help to reduce any itching and scratching. However it doesn't treat the underlying cause of the condition. To do this you must address the specific skin problem, which in this case appears to be a cat food allergy.

To treat this condition, it is necessary that the possible food allergen be identified. This can be done by eliminating possible food allergens from the diet.

You can either formulate an elimination diet at home by eliminating ingredients that have been previously fed to your cat, or go for a quality commercial diet such as Science Diet Sensitive Skin Cat Food, which contains balanced ingredients, additional oils and Omega 3, which will all help to reduce the skin dryness and it will help to maintain skin strength. The response time for dietary change is between 1 and 9 weeks.

Also, corticosteroids are drugs which are commonly used for the treatment of food allergy in cats. You can use any topical product, usually available in a combination of topical corticosteroids and anti–bacterial components such as Panalog Topical Cream (Contains anti–bacterial, anti –fungal and corticosteroids for local application). Such products will help to reduce any chance of secondary infection and will also enhance your cat's recovery by reducing localized symptoms.

We hope this will resolve the problem. If it persists, consult your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will conduct a detailed serological diagnosis and would recommend a detailed 6 – 9 month treatment plan, if required.

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