Kitten Scratching

by Don
(Ocala, FL)


My kitten seems to scratch himself a lot. He is an inside cat.

Hi, Don:

Fleas or flea-bite allergic dermatitis is by far the most common cause of itchy skin in cats of all ages.

Cats do not have to go outdoors to get bitten by a flea. Flea eggs can remain dormant for up to 2 years or more. If you move into a house where animals lived previously, there's risk.

You or anyone else can bring them in on your clothes and shoes. Visitors to your home that have animals can bring them in on their clothes or shoes.

Even though your kitty stays indoors, if he has ever gone outside with you or anyone else for even a minute or two, he can bring a flea back inside.

I am going on and on about this because fleas are by far the most likely cause for scratching in any cat.

Kittens can also have ear mites. Has he been to a vet for a good check-up? Did he ever have ear mites that were treated and may have come back? Is a lot of his scratching behavior directed at his ears?

You can look closely yourself for fleas and ear mites. Buy a flea comb at the pet store if you don't have one and comb several times a day. Comb deeply into the hair coat and comb especially at the tail base and tail and around the neck and top of the head. Look not only for live fleas, but also for black specks called "flea dirt". Either will indicate a flea problem.

Likewise you can look into your kitty's ears. They should be perfectly clean. If there's dark debris, ear mites could very well be present.

You can also give your kitten a bath with a gentle shampoo labelled specifically for kittens. Make sure you rinse very thoroughly after shampooing.

Definitely make an appointment with the vet if none of these suggestions alleviate the problem or if you definitely find fleas or ear mites. In fact, I suppose that even if you don't find fleas or mites and the bath doesn't help, you should also make an appointment to see what else could be bothering your kitty.

Thanks for writing,
Dr. Neely

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