Why Is Your Cat Scratching Itself?

When your cat is scratching itself this may indicate a number of problems ranging from parasites and inhalant allergies to psychological problems such as stress. Detecting the problem is essential, as the cat scratching itself can be destructive and the cat may cause wounds that may develop secondary infections. It is also helpful to look for additional signs to be able to detect the problem.


If your pet is suffering from allergies, one of the most common symptoms is scratching. The cat will scratch itself excessively, will also paw his face and try to find cold surfaces that can temporarily relieve the itchiness.

The itchiness is triggered by different allergic agents such as chemicals, food, dust mites, cigarette smoke or airborne pollens.

Contact allergies may also cause itchiness.

Finding the allergen requires testing; once the irritant is found, a vaccine can be prepared. The cat may also receive antihistamines or steroids for temporary relief.

Dietary Causes

The cat’s diet may cause scratching; the cat may be allergic to some of the food ingredients. However, the food may also lack the essential nutrients causing flaky and dry skin, which will also be itchy.

Talk to your vet to detect if the diet lacks certain nutrients and get a better diet or add some supplements to prevent skin dryness.

Aggressive Shampoo

An unsuitable shampoo may cause dry skin and itchiness in your pet. Opt for shampoos that contain natural ingredients and are also hypoallergenic.

Dietary supplements such as fatty acids may eliminate the dry skin.

Skin Parasites

External parasites cause extreme itchiness and the cat will scratch itself. The cat will also lick and chew the affected zones.

The most common cat parasites include fleas and ticks and these can be easily identified and eliminated. There are several shampoos, powders, sprays and medication.

You should also eliminate the parasites from the cat’s environment to prevent a re-infection.

Skin Infections

Skin infections may be either bacterial or fungal; the skin will look irritated and there will also be excessive scratching and chewing of the skin.

The infection may be identified by performing a skin scraping test and the infection can be eliminated with topical creams, rinses and antibiotics or fungicides.

Thyroid Gland Problems

If the cat’s thyroid gland is not functioning properly causing a hormonal imbalance (hypo or hyperthyroidism), the cat may have dry or oily skin and itchiness is a common symptom. The cat will scratch itself.

If the vet rules out common scratching possible causes, he will perform a few blood tests to determine if the thyroid gland functions properly. Thyroid problems may be treated with medication or surgery in more severe cases.


Scratching can be caused by psychological factors as well. A stressed cat may scratch itself in excess and this can lead to bald patches, deep wounds and bacterial infections.

Stress is difficult to diagnose, but may be treated with medication, herbal remedies and pheromone diffusers.