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Pet Doc
Pet Doc, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
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Experience:  Veterinarian - BVSc
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My female cat scratches her neck constantly she has no fleas

Customer Question

My female cat scratches her neck constantly she has no fleas though as she has never been outside. Sometimes it will stop and the scabs will clear for a couple weeks and then she starts again. Thanks for any help.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 5 years ago.
Hi there,

Thank you for your question regarding your 7 year old girl, Miss Kitty who has been scratching her neck constantly!! First and foremost, you need to make sure Miss Kitty is definitely up to date with flea control. Make sure you are using a flea product appropriate for her weight. Even though you may not see any fleas or flea dirt on you girl, and even though she doesn't venture outside - this doesn't necessarily mean there are one or two lurking and oftentimes this is all it takes for a cat with flea allergy dermatitis. Flea allergies commonly cause a dermatitis and irritation around the neck like this. With this allergy, it only takes the saliva from one flea to be inserted under the skin (i.e. when the flea bites) for a systemic allergy to begin.

Flea allergies are avoided by strict flea control - every 3 - 4 weeks with Advantage or Advantage Multi or every 5 - 6 weeks with Frontline. I would encourage you to continue with the advantage - even though she still seems to be scratching. You must also ensure all pets in the household are treated at the same time. You should also consider flea bombing the entire house to kill all larvae and eggs hiding in your carpet.

It is also possible Miss Kitty may have skin mites or lice as they commonly hair loss like this. These include Sarcoptes mites (which are VERY itchy) and you should ensure a full Veterinary skin scrape to check for mites and lice, as well as signs of fleas. Skin mites would easily be diagnosed via the skin biopsy so we may know more about this in the next few days hopefully. Do also think about treating this girl with Advantage multi (aka Advocate) rather than plain Advantage. It is also very important for your Vet to rule out fungal infection (such as ringworm) via a culture or Wood's lamp test (UV light).

It may be that she has a residual skin infection here that is causing her to want to continue to scratch. If she is scratching to the point of causing wounds and/or scabs, then definitely get her along to your local vet, as a course of skin antibiotics would be quite useful here.

Finally cats can become allergic to many natural ingredients in their diet. I would also recommend a food trial for Miss Kitty using a hypoallergenic food like Hill's Z/D ultra available from your Vet. Feeding ONLY this for 3 weeks will give you an idea of whether a food allergy is to blame here.

Best of luck with Miss Kitty and I hope this has been of help to you. Please reply if you need any more information on this.

Thank you and please now click ACCEPT.

Kind Regards,

Dr M D Edwards