Cats are notorious for scratching. Whether it's using their back leg to scratch behind their ears, to showing off their kitty muscles on a scratching post, cats dedicate a decent portion of their time to itching, whether it's themselves or a play toy. But there comes a point in time where your cat might cross the line between normal and obsessive.
In the latter case, there is a slight cause for concern. When cats itch their fur, especially concentrated in one area in particular, it is highly likely that your feline friend has dermatitis. As a skin condition, dermatitis is very uncomfortable and very demanding. It draws your cat in and captivates your kitten's attention to the point where they don't have time to live their lives and play with their catnip cotton mouse toys.
But how can something so seemingly insignificant as scratching become an actual problem? It seems impossible, but it happens more often than you might think. In fact, between six and fifteen percent of all cats have an encounter with dermatitis at some point in their lifetimes. Going back to the subject of cats going hand-in-hand with scratching, it’s not always obvious that a cat’s itching habit is a result of dermatitis. Our goal is to depict dermatitis so well that you will be able to spot the symptoms from a mile away. Let’s start out with a definition of dermatitis and go from there.
Dermatitis for Cats: What are the Symptoms of the Skin Condition?
While it’s important to understand dermatitis in entirety, it might be worthwhile to first determine if your cat’s behavior is in alignment with the common symptoms of feline miliary dermatitis before you worry about treating your cat for a skin condition. The most obvious indication of feline miliary dermatitis is a change in behavior relating to scratching, licking, and grooming.
So, let’s say your cat is itching like there is no tomorrow and you’re worried about the recent obsession with grooming their fur coat. The good news is that you can breathe because even if these behavioral changes are a result of feline miliary dermatitis, the skin condition is treatable. And the fact that you’ve caught on to your cat’s constant scratching is a great sign because it means you can get your kitty the attention they need.
But what if your cat has dermatitis and yet licking their fur is not a symptom they display in public? Cats are very secretive creatures, so there’s a high probability of your kitty hiding their behavior from you and licking their rash in private. Since this is a real possibility, we encourage you to look beyond the obvious side effect of itching and keep an eye out for all symptoms of cat dermatitis.
Aside from scratching, cats with dermatitis also…
- Have patches of fur missing as a result of hair loss
- Meow and purr more than usual
- Either want more attention or become more withdrawn
- Develop wet areas on their bodies where the dermatitis is most irritating
- Have areas of scabbed-over skin
- Be sensitive to petting
When it comes to pet health and ensuring that you are taking the appropriate steps to help you cat, the safest practice is to call your veterinarian rather than attempt to diagnose your cat on your own. Your vision might be clouded due to your emotional ties to your cat’s condition, and rather than letting unintentional bias cause you to make the wrong decision, always consult with a vet before taking any major steps in any direction.
What is Feline Dermatitis?
Dermatitis is defined as inflammation that starts on the surface of the skin, and as the condition worsens, it begins to affect inner layers of skin beneath the epidermis. Speaking of skin, there are two layers of skin that hold the most importance. The outermost layer of skin is called the epidermis and it is essentially the most protective layer. It acts as a barrier between the outside world and your internal organs.
As such, it is also the first part of your cat to experience the side effects of dermatitis. If cat dermatitis is treated and relieved early on, feline miliary dermatitis is less likely to expand and make its way to the dermis, which is your cat's second major layer of skin. Located between the epidermis and the fatty tissues that lie beneath skin, the dermis is where you would find sweat glands, lymph nodes, blood vessels, hair follicles, oil glands, and neurons.
All cases of cat dermatitis begin at the surface when an irritant starts to bother your cat’s epidermis. From there, your cat’s brain will receive signals from its body telling your little buddy to work on itching the problem area. Since one of the tell-tale signs of dermatitis is constant scratching, the feline miliary dermatitis will need to be addressed before the itchy aspect fades away completely. We’ll get into treatment methods for cat dermatitis soon, but before we talk about healing the problem, let’s discuss the three main sources of all feline dermatitis cases.
The Three Kinds of Feline Dermatitis
Dermatitis is an overarching term for a variety of skin condition with varying levels of severity. The official terminology for dermatitis in cats is feline miliary dermatitis. While there are numerous different skin problems that cats face, they can all be placed into one of three main categories of cat dermatitis.
If you know which allergen caused your cat's skin to become inflamed, then you'll have an easier time figuring out which category of dermatitis your cat is experiencing. For cat dermatitis, there are about three main reasons behind the skin condition. In general, feline miliary dermatitis is a result of either a food allergy, an allergic reaction to something airborne, or fleas making a home in the hair follicles of your kitty cat.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis FAD
As you might have already assumed, flea allergy dermatitis, or FAD, is quite literally a skin condition caused by an allergy to fleas. When fleas bite your cat’s fur, they leave behind traces of their saliva. The experience of being bitten by a flea will result in dermatitis for cats with a hypersensitivity to flea saliva. Though it seems like a minor detail, many cats do not take well to flea saliva. The result of the saliva of fleas sitting on your cat’s skin is irritation, which your cat will tend to by scratching, licking, and doing everything but leaving the area of skin alone.
Food Allergy Dermatitis
Many cases of feline miliary dermatitis are the result of an allergy to certain foods. As with all situations where allergies are involved, not all cats will be negatively impacted by the same things. A food item that is an allergen to one cat might be the best thing another cat has ever eaten. Food allergies are a negative reactions to foods that your cat has no tolerance for, and unfortunately, you won’t always know that your cat is allergic to something until you give it to them and an allergic reaction unfolds.
As a general rule of thumb, cats should never eat...
- Seafood, including tuna
- Any foods that contain preservatives
When your kitty cat eats something that they are allergic to, their immune system will respond to an antigen and work to fight against the allergen. Whether your cat was born with an allergy or your feline friend develops an allergy over the years, always watch how your cat responds to any food that you give to him or her.
Just like humans, if cats are near a substance that they are allergic to, the act of simply rubbing against it or having an allergen in the vicinity can be enough to cause dermatitis in cats. Atopic dermatitis refers to instances where a cat comes into physical contact with an allergen. Another way of describing atopic dermatitis is to relate it to an allergic reaction. The distinguishing factor between atopic feline miliary dermatitis and allergic reactions is the prolonged time frame of dermatitis and the way that the allergen results in a rash.
Atopic dermatitis is an advanced stage of an allergic reaction on the skin. Allergies are genetic, so allergens vary from one cat to another. The fact that allergies are hereditary can be very helpful and insightful if you know the history of your cat's parents. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for any allergies that your cat might have, but just because your kitty’s parents have certain allergies, it is not a definite certainty that your cat will develop the same allergies over time. It simply means they are at a higher risk of having the allergies because their parents had them.
Another Way of Looking at Feline Miliary Dermatitis: Infectious vs Noninfectious
When you are working with something as vague as a skin condition, there is an incredibly high number of possibilities as to the cause of your cat’s dermatitis. While the three categories we talked about in the previous section are a great way of identifying all cases of dermatitis based on the primary cause of the condition, you can also look at feline miliary dermatitis through the lenses of being infectious or noninfectious.
Some specific causes of feline miliary dermatitis as a result of an infection are...
- Ringworm and other instances involving fungi
- Cowpox, chicken pox, and other viruses
- Build-up of bacteria
- Flea bites
- Mites that burrow in your cat's fur
Noninfectious causes of cat dermatitis include…
- Overexposure to sunlight resulting in a slight sunburn
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Allergies to food
- Negative reactions of your cat's nervous system
- Airborne allergies
- Feline eosinophilic granuloma complex
- Hypersensitivity to certain chemicals
- Adverse reactions to prescription medications
- Dermatitis as a result of a lack of grooming
- Liver disease
- Open wounds that don't heal properly
- Urinary tract infections
Can Cats with Dermatitis Pass it Along to Other Cats?
A very reasonable concern about cats with feline miliary dermatitis is that the skin condition is contagious. Now, you don’t need to immediately quarantine your cat and deep clean every surface in close proximity to a cat with dermatitis. It’s rare for a cat to come down with a case of dermatitis that requires such drastic measures.
In order to figure out if your cat has a contagious bout of dermatitis, you will need to fill in one detail in particular. The first step is to determine if the origin of your cat’s dermatitis is an infection. If so, then your cat should be kept away from his or her feline buddies until the infection is taken care of and covered. Otherwise, your kitty cat is free to roam and interact with his or her animal friends.
What are the Treatment Options for Cats with Dermatitis?
Dermatitis for cats causes inflammation which, in turn, causes pain. As mentioned, it is imperative that you take your kitty cat to the veterinarian. While you’re at the vet’s office, your cat’s doctor will probably suggest one of the following methods of treatment for cat dermatitis.
- Flea shampoo
- Supplements for healthy skin
- Ointments intended to lessen inflammation
These are all suitable and well-researched ways of resolving symptoms of cat dermatitis, the only natural remedy for dermatitis on the list is the supplements. If your cat is in need of relief from dermatitis-related pain, and you want to explore a natural remedy for feline miliary dermatitis, then CBD is the answer to your prayers.
When cannabidiol is added to the equation, the severity of these two side effects of feline miliary dermatitis in particular are reduced. CBD works to minimize the inflammation caused by cat dermatitis, making symptoms more manageable.
What is Cannabidiol and Is it a Cat Dermatitis Home Remedy?
For the sake of securing your trust in CBD and ruling out any doubt you may have, let’s compare CBD and THC. The base level knowledge that cannabidiol stems from the same, if not slightly different, source as tetrahydrocannabinol sometimes rubs cat owners the wrong way. That instinctive sense of hesitation is not surprising, particularly because THC is a source of psychoactive effects and, as all pet owners should know, you never ever want your animal to ingest anything of a psychotropic nature.
A common misconception about CBD is that it can cause you to get high, but this is very inaccurate, just as a principle. Cannabis has the potential to cause whomever or whatever ingests it to become high, but it is not cannabis as a whole that induces those mind-altering effects or physical reactions.
In fact, THC is responsible for these responses to cannabis, so if you have a cannabis plant or a hemp plant that contains little to no THC within its leaves, then the odds of getting high are greatly reduced, if not completely obliterated. The truth of the matter is that CBD oil for pets cannot get your pet high. Without a high concentration of THC, cannabidiol chemically does not contain the necessary compounds required for a psychoactive experience.
CBD for feline miliary dermatitis is the key to resolving cat dermatitis at home. All-natural home remedies for cat dermatitis are the way to go. One of the biggest perks of cannabidiol for cat dermatitis is that you can administer it to your kitty without having to step foot outside or wait in the vet’s office.
You’ll find a lot of comfort in CBD for dermatitis because the mere fact that you have the means to help your cat feel better is as good as it gets. When you have CBD in your household, your cat may never have to suffer from the pain of itching and scratching caused by dermatitis ever again. CBD is a kitty cat’s best friend.
Where to Purchase CBD to Help with Dermatitis for Cats
Innovet is the #1 pet health company to date. With CBD made from 100% hemp, and a quality control process that involves triple-checking the CBD sourced from Colorado, Innovet takes every measure possible to ensure that the CBD products on the e-commerce shelves are nothing shy of the best. After all, the best is what your cat deserves.Sound impressive? Well, it gets even more incredible, because Innovet offers some of the highest quality CBD oils for cats with dermatitis. Need another reason to drop your jaw? Innovet ships CBD oils, CBD treats, Soft Hemp chews, snacks, and CBD creams to you!There's no need to take a trip to the store. Instead, place your order online and within a few days you can expect to open your front door to find a package from Innovet on your porch. If your cat could talk, he or she would ask you to buy CBD oil for feline miliary dermatitis. We're sure of it. So what are you waiting for? Take a look at Innovet's inventory today and buy CBD for your cat's dermatitis. Your cat will thank you for relieving their inflammation and pain with an at-home dermatitis treatment from Innovet!
Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.
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Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.
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The Innovet Team