Itching and Twitching-Fleas and dermatitis

posted in: .. By Gemma 0

Animals aren’t all that different from us. Any pet owner already knows this. Sometimes, in fact, it’s hard to think of our pets are animals and not another member of the family. They have a lot of the same ailments that we do and can even get hurt feelings if we scold them. So then, it shouldn’t be strange to think that some pets can have sensitive skin that requires a little extra care.

I currently have three cats. Two rescued mixed breeds and a purebred Sphynx. Out of all of them, I would have expected my hairless Sphynx to have skin issues, but she doesn’t, other than needing a bath every week. My sensitive cat is my troublemaker, Skylar. He’s the one who always seems to have problems. I’ve previously written about some of them. Here’s a new one. He has very sensitive skin. I didn’t always know this. In fact, I’ve only just recently discovered this new problem.


For the most part I keep my cats inside. I try to be the responsible pet owner and don’t want to run the risk of my sweet kitties getting into fights, getting run over or running away. But, Skylar is apparently the type of cat that really likes to go outside and sniff around at all the different scents hanging on every blade of grass and tree trunk. So, occasionally when his insistent meows and relentless picking at the window screens gets too much, I let him out. Luckily he’s older now so he doesn’t wander out of the yard, however, other cats come into the yard. This has to be how he picked up those wretched, nasty little fleas.

Of course I didn’t realize for a few days when I noticed him scratching. About six months back, I’d religiously applied Advantage to him and my other rescued cat, Jelly, just so they wouldn’t get fleas. But, as I wasn’t letting them out much during that six month period, I didn’t bother with the Advantage. Big mistake. Since Skylar had fleas, it stood to reason that Jelly would have them, too. It wasn’t long before that thought was confirmed. Ugh. The only one I didn’t have to worry about was the Sphynx, Sophia, since she has no hair.

Poor Skylar was scratching and licking a lot more than he had ever done before. We’d had a flea incident a few years ago, hence the reason I knew about Advantage, but Skylar didn’t scratch near as much as he was doing this time. I ran out and bought the Advantage, but he’d already had fleas for a few days and his fur was already dull and he was absolutely miserable.

Because it was just fleas, I didn’t bother going to the vet. Instead I did some research on the Internet and found out that Skylar probably had flea-caused dermatitis. Some cats, and dogs, are sensitive to the saliva that the fleas excrete onto their skin. The thought of flea spit all over my cat is pretty gross, but as I’d just applied the Advantage, I had to wait a few days before giving him a bath. In the mean time, I went to the local pet store.

Anti-itch shampoo

A trip to the mega-pet store is always an interesting experience. There are so many products available these days that it would take a week to see them all. I headed right to the shampoo aisle and as expected, there was an entire shelf filled with merchandise. They have scented shampoos and conditioners, hypo-allergenic products and what I was looking for, anti-itch shampoos. Since Skylar had suspected skin sensitivity, I didn’t want anything scented in case it made him even more itchy. I compared the prices and ingredients and settled on a not-too-expensive anti-itch oatmeal shampoo.

Now, armed with the shampoo, I headed home. While I’m an experienced cat bather, getting Skylar anywhere near a tub of water isn’t the sort thing I look forward to. He’s a big cat, and strong, and he knows how to contort his body so it’s virtually impossible to get a good grip on him. But, a bath was necessary to ease his suffering.

Maybe it was because he sensed I was trying to help, or maybe he was just tired from all the scratching, but the bath wasn’t so bad. Oh, sure, he struggled and let out a few plaintive meows, but he didn’t struggle much. I rubbed the shampoo into his skin and let it sit for a few seconds before rinsing it off.

I’m not sure if my results are typical or not, but by the time he dried, Skylar wasn’t itching anymore. I think the combination of the Advantage and the anti-itch shampoo worked a miracle. Since I got such good results, I bathed my other cat, Jelly. That bath wasn’t near as easy as Skylar’s because Jelly weighs in at about 20 pounds and knows how to throw his weight around. The shampoo also helped him, or maybe it just cleaned off the ‘flea dirt’ and he felt better.

Happy Ending

What I learned from this experience is that I should never let the Advantage lapse or I should keep all of the cats inside all of the time. And, big tough Skylar is really a sensitive guy at heart, or at least on the surface.

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