Pruritus in cats causes unpleasant sensations in your pet that can range from mild to severe, depending on what their actual threshold is and it will vary in every cat.
There are several actual underlying causes that contribute to this condition, and if any of them exceed your cats threshold it can result in your cat actually causing injury to themselves as the sensation grows in intensity.
If the inflammation spreads, so will the condition.
In some cases it will become so severe that your cat will start to bite and then scratch their own body.
It can quickly reach the point that they develop lesions that can become severely infected.
Pruritus in cats is itching, but it is not an average everyday itch. Every cat will scratch themselves several times a day, but this is different, much different.
It is a chemical reaction that is occurring in your pet’s body that will stimulate the nerves cells to send warnings to the brain that something is wrong and has surpassed the itch threshold.
The Itch Threshold:
So what exactly is the itch threshold?
The itch threshold in your cat is a very complicated and complex disorder that will release a series of signals from your pets brain to their nerves.
Once completed, it instructs them to react to an attack of some type and when this is triggered in your pet it is referred to as Pruritus.
It will also help explain why some cats seem to be affected much more than others.
Pruritus in cats, or itching, can be the result of several different factors such as allergies, some type of a parasite or a flea, a secondary infection, or dry skin.
help in understanding an itch threshold in can best be pictured and described as itch units in your cat.
Each cat is totally unique in nature as any owner knows, and their itch unit is no different.
Once your cats system exceeds the itch units that it can tolerate, you cat will start to scratch. As the itch units increase past the threshold, so does the scratching.
It is very important to understand that there is no average metric that has yet to be found for a common threshold, but for the sake of argument your cat has a threshold of 60 itch units.
They have been infected with fleas and it is severe enough that it puts it over their threshold of 60. Unless it is treated immediately, they will begin to scratch.
However, if the same flea attack only causes a 45 unit measurement in your cat, they would not itch at all even though they have fleas.
However, they than develop a secondary bacterial infection that causes another 30 units and as a result the messages are sent and the scratching begins.
If you treat the fleas and the infection, the unit level drops back down below their threshold and the itching stops.
However, there is a third example.
Your cat has the same 60 unit threshold and the fleas cause a reaction of 30 units, a 20 unit measurement to the bacterial infection, so nothing happens.
But they are now developing dry skin and that causes another 20 unit reaction.
None of the conditions alone triggers your pets threshold, but combined it has become very serious and result in Pruritus in cats.
You may only identify one of the actual causes and treat just that one cause thinking it will resolve the problem, but it will only be temporary as the other causes are just waiting for the slightest effect of another cause to trigger the threshold again very easily.
Pruritus in cats will show you some very distinct symptoms once you understand the itch threshold the best you can with your individual cat.
The first symptom will be scratching and itching, but it will not be normal itching. It will in most all cases evolve very rapidly to biting as well.
If the scratching and biting exceed twenty four hours, your cat now has a full blown case of Pruritus.
If they do, the next symptoms will be the development of lesions as a result of the biting. Your cat may also start to lose hair in spots and if not treated very quickly, it can easily spread quite rapidly.
As a result of this, their skin will also turn very red in the damaged areas where your cat has attacked itself.
Another symptom that you will see with Pruritus in cats is a chronic licking of the feet; it will not be biting at first, but it will very close to biting as the itch unit’s increase.
If your cat has a very strong threshold and the attack is just at the triggering point, you may see you cat start to become very excessive in their grooming habits.
This is not a case where your cat suddenly become very neat, they are receiving very subtle signals from their brain that something is wrong.
Because of this, you will soon start to see crusty lesions develop as a result of the licking.
Pruritus in cats has several potential causes that will include both allergic skin diseases as well as parasite skin diseases.
Allergic skin diseases will naturally start with fleas as they are the most common allergic skin condition in the world.
If your cat has fleas, they will normally start to scratch their back end and cause lesions on the rump and hind legs, as well as their stomach area.
If the allergic reaction is from Atopy, it is a reaction to pollens, house mites, dust, or molds.
This is the most common form of allergic reaction that combines with fleas and causes your cat to pass the itch threshold and you cat will scratch their ears and face as well as lick at their feet with this allergic reaction.
Food allergies are also a very common cause and what makes this difficult to diagnose is that your cat will scratch in the same places as Atopy.
Parasite infections will include the mange mite and will affect your cats ears, elbows, and ankles and are more common in younger cats.
Cheyletiellosis is a condition that causes very itchy skin and is also caused by body mites, while ear mite infections can also cause itching to occur in other parts of your pets body.
Pruritus in cats can only be effectively treated by identify the underlying cause and then treating it.
Antihistamines may be used in treatments but they are not as nearly effective in cats as they are in humans, and will only help in about twenty five percent of all cases.
Soothing medicating shampoos combined with fatty acid supplements are by far and away the most effective treatments.
Fatty acid supplements, especially fish oils, help to relieve Pruritus by modulating your cat’s immune response and as a result it helps to keep the itch units from triggering.
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