My cat has eczema: what to do?

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If your cat is constantly scratching, licking herself all day, constantly biting her belly. Be careful, these attitudes can be a sign of eczema. A consultation with the veterinarian is essential quickly. Advice from Dr. Gilles Macherez, veterinarian, to take good care of your animal.

If we talk about eczema in human medicine, in animals this term is, in fact, inappropriate. Instead, itchy diseases or allergies are used.

What are the causes of eczema?

As in dogs, "the leading cause of skin diseases in cats is fleas," warns Dr. Macherez. This is all the more true since the cats grooming behavior makes the parasite disappear. Then, in young cats, we also find ear mites and, in winter, ringworm, especially in kittens or stray cats. And finally, the panel of allergies, whether food or aeroallergenic. "

What are the symptoms in cats?

"Unlike dogs, the clinical expression - itch, scratch, lick, bite, rub - in cats is the same regardless of the cause," says the vet. In the case of ear mites, the cat will have a local itch around the ears. "

We also find the following manifestations:

Feline miliary dermatitis: "It produces localized papule-scabs on the face, temples, neck, back", details the veterinarian. It could be an allergy to flea bites or a food allergy.

Feline Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex: "They are inflammatory plaques located on the lips, stomach, back of the thighs," explains Dr. Macherez. Its causes: an allergic reaction to flea bites, a food allergy, or even a hypersensitivity to aeroallergens.

Extensive feline alopecia: "It is hair loss caused by excessive licking," says the vet. It is usually the expression of an allergic reaction (fleas, mites) but it can also be the expression of a secondary behavioral disorder.

"Food allergy testing in cats, as in dogs, is still in the early stages," says Macherez. Currently, the only possibility lies in an eviction regime. "

Therefore, the cat must be given a different diet than the one he has eaten so far. We can offer you a diet based on hydrolyzed proteins, therefore less allergenic. "The latter should be exclusive for 3 months, warns the vet, to see if it gives a convincing result or not. In case of improvement, it is continued. Otherwise, it can be tried with another hypoallergenic diet."

What if the cat does not improve? "Performing intraderm tests is more difficult to perform than in dogs", warns the vet. When a cat does not want to be held, there is not much to do. And why, then, not perform these tests under general anesthesia? "Because anesthesia can cause interpretation problems by skewing the reading of the results," says the veterinarian.

Can you desensitize a cat?

Without the possibility of orientation tests, desensitization of the cat in case of eczema can be attempted "blindly". "However, an elimination diagnosis can be made," says the vet.

A cat, even if it goes out from time to time and is on the landing, must be treated against external parasites. "In 2020, fleas are the main cause of parasitic diseases", warns the veterinarian.

However, a bit like childrens head lice, a flea lays 30 to 50 eggs a day. And if 5% of the animals fleas are adults, the eggs, larvae and lymphatics can invade the cats environment, that is, its owners, armchairs, cushions, sofas and the floor, particularly old parquet floors. Ground fleas are nothing more than fleas from animals that have contaminated the apartment or house.

Mistakes to avoid. The vets advice:

- Never use an antiparasitic for dogs on a cat, due to the risk of toxicity for the latter.

- The insect repellent pipette, often made from plants like geraniol, is intended to scare away pests, but if they are already present, it does not kill them in any way.

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