In most cats, the back, the base of the tail, and around the neck are common areas where we see flea allergy-related skin problems.
Dr. Leilani Savitt recently answered a San Francisco Chronicle reader’s Ask the Vet question on this topic:
Q: My cat, Ted, licks the fur off his back. We thought it was an allergy he was reacting to and went to the vet, where he got a shot of a steroid and medication. His condition improved for a bit, but then he reverted to his old ways. Besides looking unsightly, the spots he licks get raw and red. Any suggestions?
A: In most cats, the back, the base of the tail, and around the neck are common areas where we see flea allergy-related skin problems. Ted most likely has this allergy, and he becomes so itchy after a flea bite that he licks the area raw.
Just one flea bite can cause an allergic reaction resulting in itchiness. A short course of steroids like Ted received previously is the most common treatment to control the itching. Most cats handle this medication well.
Cats with a flea allergy should be on a monthly oral flea preventative that has a fast speed of kill, such as Comfortis. Cats are efficient groomers and commonly swallow the fleas, so even if you do not see fleas on them, they still need to be treated. It’s also important to vacuum your house frequently and to use a flea preventative on all dogs and cats in your household.
Itching can have many causes, so don’t be discouraged if your cat is still itchy after treating for fleas. Ted may also have other allergies, and frequent follow-up examinations may be needed to get his itching under control. It would be a good idea to take Ted back to his veterinarian to have him re-examined. He may need more steroids if he is really itching, and you can discuss options for flea preventative medication. If your veterinarian is unable to control his itching, he or she can refer Ted to a veterinary dermatologist.
- Source article: Cat’s fur woes could be flea allergy (SFGate.com)
- More: View the Ask the Vet archive (SFGate.com)