General Question

susanc's avatar

My fairly old kitty has scabs on a lot of his skin. No fleas. What's up?

Asked by susanc (16104points) August 25th, 2014

Itchy. Doesn’t mind if I scratch off the scabs. Purrs like crazy when brushed and stroked. So I don’t think the scabs hurt, exactly, but they can’t be helping. I repeat: no fleas. Help, help!

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7 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Well..clearly he has a skin condition or allergy issue. Take him to the vet for an exam. I doubt he is feeling very good if he is covered with scabs. Have you changed foods lately, litter, does he go outside and have contact with other cats?

Somethings up, get him checked out.

rojo's avatar

My dog, while not covered in scabs, scratches like crazy in summer months. Don’t bother with the vet. I can tell you what they will say (and save you $60.00 bucks) “He must be allergic to something”.

Duh, you think so???

syz's avatar

Yes, she is allergic to something. And yes, it’s uncomfortable. And yes, they can do something about it. So take her to your vet.

longgone's avatar

Take her to your vet (unless you and @rojo go to the same one).

There absolutely are things a vet can do. My dog was reacting badly to something a few weeks ago, and – because she was itchy – proceeded to lick herself until she had several open sores.

The ointment and injection she received at the vet’s made her feel better instantly, and now, she’s perfectly fine. It most likely was a pollen allergy, in her case.

rojo's avatar

Yeah, mine said give him benadryl three times a day.
So I tried it, he stopped scratching as much but it turned him into a zombie. He spent most of his time sleeping and when he was awake he would stop in the middle of the room and just look lost; like he had forgotten what it was that he had planned on doing. Even jumping up on the furniture became an issue, he would put his paws on it, try to jump up but be unable to muster the energy required then just get back down and find somewhere else to sleep.
Now I just give him one in the evening so he sleeps well.

syz's avatar

@rojo You know what you call a vet who graduated last in their class? You call them doctor.

Look, allergies are tough. Consider how hard humans struggle to controll them. And if you’re one of the rare pet owners who understands that, has the time and money and willingness to pursue it, there are good options. You can be referred to a veterinary dermatologist who will allergy test, who will work up a plan to control them (you don’t “cure” allergies), who will prescribe lifestyle changes and medication and shampoos and topicals, and the pet usually improves through lifelong management.

If you have a vet that’s not exactly at the top of their game, the doctor may give a steroid injection or tell you to use Benadryl. If they’re a very bad vet, they won’t tell you the risks of steroid use and they’ll use it every 6 weeks or so as needed, compounding the significant medical risks (especially in older animals).

If you’re the type of pet owner who shrugs and wants it fixed cheaply and easily, the doctor may give a steroid injection or tell you to use Benadryl even if they are a good doctor. I’ve spent 30 years watching pet owners want an easy, one time $5 “miracle cure” for issues as serious as hip dysplasia, parvo virus, or cancer. There’s not much even the best vet can do if the owner is not willing to invest the effort and money.

By far, the most common allergen for cats are flea bites. The problem is that a single bite can cause a cascade of reactions that causes itching for 2 weeks. It’s pretty hard for an owner to guarantee that their pet does not come in contact with the occasional flea or have a very low grade infestation (you can even bring them in on your pants from the yard or someone else’s house). I don’t have fleas, but I still treat my pets with a quality flea prevention in the summer – just in case. (For God’s sake, never use pet store flea products, especially anything by HARTZ. That stuff kills.)

The second most common allergens are environmental (grasses, molds, pollens, etc). It’s extremely difficult to limit exposure to things like that (in people/children, things like hepa filters, eliminating carpeting, additive-free cleaning products, etc.). They are often seasonal (kitty breaks out every fall, etc.).

The least common allergens are food proteins. The poorly informed pet-owning community loves to diagnose food allergies, recommending expensive kangaroo/elk/lamb diets. Yes, food allergies exists, but don’t be changing diets willy-nilly without some empirical evidence to support it – you just spend lots of money and wind up with animals with diarrhea from all of the drastic food changes.

Scabby skin is not life threatening, but it’s definitely uncomfortable for your kitty. Take your cat to the vet and talk about your options; ask lots of questions and be an informed consumer. He/she will ask you about any changes in diet, cat litter, laundry detergent, etc. If this is the first time she’s shown these signs, you may get luckily and one steroid injection will get her through this and it will never happen again.

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