cat scratching

My cat is about 1-1/2 yrs old, she was born outside and I found her and raised her indoors, the problem is she scratches behind her ear and yells, sometimes she tear the hair and skin off and continues, my problem is she has a very bad attitude sometimes and I cannot get anything on her, what can this problem be and how can I treat her, her vet does not even trust her! I am disabled and have a hard time getting hold of her.

RESPONSE:

Young feral kittens that we take into our homes oftentimes don’t mean to have attitudes but they just had a rough start because they were left without their mother so young. They take a long time to adjust. Two of my six cats were also born outside and have been raised inside but rather than have an attitude one’s a scaredy-cat and the other is gutsy but normal. You just never know...

This scratching is for a reason. She may have an allergy that is driving her crazy with itching. It can be a food allergy. It can be contact dermatitis where the cat has come in contact with objects or plants that cause a reaction. This is frequently seen with itching around the ears and anus. It can be atopy. Atopy is an inhaled allergy where allergens in the air cause skin conditions. It can be seasonal but it can also happen due to dust, pollution, cigarette smoke and pollen. And of course, the big culprit is fleas. The flea saliva is deposited on the cat’s skin when they bite the cat and this causes severe itching. Cats will scratch their skin off because the skin is so irritated and itchy. This is really common around the ears and neck.

If the cause isn’t external then it could be internal and the cat could have ear mites. Usually you will see the cat shaking his head or rubbing his ears. He will even tear skin off trying to alleviate the itching in his ears. This is remedied with an ear mite treatment.

You have said that you are disabled and have difficulty getting a hold of her so although I would recommend having a vet look at her, if this isn’t possible right now then I suggest you enlist the help of a friend or relative to assist. Between the two of you it is possible to take a large towel and wrap the cat into it like a “cat burrito” with the paws tucked inside the towel also. This makes the cat unable to move anything but the head. Talk soothingly to the cat during this process so it is more cooperative and watch out for getting bit…the head can still move. Remember to continue talking quietly to your cat to reassure it that you are trying to help.

Examine your cat’s ear area for fleas. You may not see fleas but the evidence of fleas is like black pepper. Small dots of flea feces will be near the skin. If this is evident then you can apply a flea treatment such as this one 3 MONTH TriForce for CATS 5 lbs & OVER but there are numerous ones out there to choose from.

If there is no sign of fleas then examine the ears for a rash, redness or scaling of the skin. If you see irritation then the irritant may be atopy …environmental allergies. Apply a medicated cream to the affected areas. This will stop the intense itch and soothe the irritated skin. Here are a couple of examples: : 8 in 1 Septi Clens Cream .85oz or a natural one such as HomeoPet Hot Spots (15mL)

If the skin is just raw from the scratching and you can’t see any reason for it then it might be ear mites. In this case you can apply an ear mite treatment. Four Paws Ear Mite Remedy for Cats (0.75 fl. oz.)

Now, since you don’t know what you will need for medications when you first placed the cat in the towel, you may have to evaluate the problem and then release the cat until you can obtain the correct product. Then you will have to enlist the help of your friend again to rewrap the cat in a towel in order to apply the necessary products. The few products that I gave links to are a just a guideline. You can always do an internet search for similar items.

If you didn’t determine the cause of your cat’s itchy ears or if your cat is in obvious pain then I recommend that you take her to your vet. And, I commend you for taking in a needy cat and giving it a home indoors. Good luck to you both.

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