by Joelle Steele

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Many itching skin conditions are due to allergic substances in the cat's environment. The only way to truly eliminate these skin problems is to eliminate their source.


During the winter humans and cats alike tend to suffer from dry, itchy skin. You can alleviate this suffering by using a humidifier or by keeping houseplants. The latter provide moisture to the air and are additionally helpful in purifying the air of some of the toxic substances emitted by chemicals found in cleaning powder and solvents, upholstery and carpet fabrics, paints, adhesives, wallcoverings, and cigarette smoke. Many of those toxic substances cause flu-like or allergic disorders according to the EPA. Vitamin C (250-500mg daily) can aid in detoxifying your cat.


The only way to cure a flea allergy is to eliminate the fleas. Keep your cat indoors. Use a natural flea shampoo specifically, or use castile soap and add a few drops of eucalyptus or pennyroyal oil. Sulphur 30c can be given orally twice a week for up to four weeks. Brewers yeast tablets are a well-known flea deterrent and are nutritious as well. Flea comb your cat daily, vacuum your house thoroughly, and use desiccant powders in your carpets and upholstered furniture.


Since cats can develop skin problems as a result of food allergies and similar reactions to food colorings and preservatives, it is a good idea to vary your cat's diet and look for foods which contain reduced amounts of additives or which contain less commonly allergic foodstuffs such as lamb and rice. You may even want to try making your own cat foods at home. Dr. Pitcairn offers some recipes in the "Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats."


Water additives and food dishes can also be the culprits in allergic skin problems. If you suspect your water contains fluoride or a high amount of chlorine, try giving your cat some fluoride- and chloride-free bottled water for a few weeks and see if the condition clears. Some cats also react to aluminum bowls and some ceramic dishes contain lead. The safest dish or bowl is one made of heavy clear glass.


Brushing your cat regularly helps distribute the animal's natural oils and stimulates the scalp. Use a natural bristle brush and do not brush if the skin is already irritated. Homeopathic tissue salts are usually helpful as are vitamin supplements such as E (25-50 I.U. daily). Cod liver oil is an excellent source of A and some cats really like it. A half teaspoon every two days is adequate. Do not give more without consulting your veterinarian. Kelp powder can be added to your cat's food if the cause of the skin problem is a sluggish thyroid.


In the cases of debilitating itchy skin disorders, a cat may begin to exhibit secondary symptoms such as nervousness, lethargy, lack of appetite, etc. A trip to the veterinarian is long overdue. In such advanced cases, you may need the immediate cure that only a shot of cortisone can provide. But, remember that you still need to address the cause of the problem to prevent its return at some future time.

This article last updated: 07/14/2010.

The articles on this Web site are informational only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice or treatment. Cats are not "one size fits all." They are different in terms of breed, age, health, lifestyle, and tolerance for different foods and other substances.