Why Does My Cat Keep Scratching?

Do you have an itchy cat? Are they scratching themselves almost uncontrollably? What should you do about this problem if it’s happening to your cat?

Excessive scratching, licking, or chewing of the skin typically indicates a cat who is very itchy. It is important to work on determining the underlying cause of your cat’s itchiness so you can help them cut down on the scratching behaviors as well. There are many potential causes of itchy skin and scratching in cats such as fleas, allergies, dry skin and more. Read through the article below to see if you can get an idea of what’s going on with your pet.

cat scratching


Most of the time, if your cat is scratching themselves a lot, they could have fleas. Fleas are a common problem for cats and are typically found on cats who spend time outdoors—although indoor cats may also deal with fleas now and then, too.

You can prevent your cat from ever having to deal with flea infestations by keeping them on a regular preventative. Topical medication, oral medication, and medicated flea collars are all good solutions. If you prefer to stay away from chemical flea preventatives, you can choose an all-natural flea collar instead.

Food Allergy

Food allergy is one of the most common causes of scratching and itchiness in cats. If your cat is allergic to or intolerant of any ingredient in the regular food blend, they are likely to develop itchy skin, flakiness, and patchy hair loss. They may also have issues with their coat health and overall coat condition, too.

You can resolve this issue by simply changing your cat to a different type of food. Try changing the type of protein you feed your cat first, to see if that is the problem. Make sure you’re giving them a high-quality food without too many filler ingredients for best results as well.

Fungal Infection

Fungal infections like ringworm are common in cats. If your cat’s scratching is accompanied by patchy hair loss, raised lesions on the skin, or ring-shaped redness, then a fungal infection could be the culprit. Some fungal infections can be contagious to people.

Take your cat to the veterinarian to have the fungal infection diagnosed. You’ll likely need to put ointment on it for a while and may need to give your cat antibiotics to help recover, too.

Dry Skin

Sometimes, scratching behaviors in cats can be narrowed down simply to dry skin. Just like humans, cats can and often do develop dry skin during the drier months of the year. If you live in a climate where winters are very dry, for example, your cat may have dry skin and develop a scratching habit during this part of the year.

If your cat’s dry skin is seasonal and it isn’t causing them too much trouble, you may be able to just wait and let it resolve on its own. However, if they are scratching so much that they are at risk of infections or abscesses of the skin, you should talk to the vet about solutions for this problem instead.


Diabetes can sometimes cause skin itchiness and excessive scratching behaviors in certain cats. You will likely notice other health problems in your cat before itching if they have diabetes, however. Some of the first indicators of diabetes in cats are excessive thirst and excessive urination as well as a loss of appetite.

If your cat is diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll need to work with your vet to determine the best treatment or management options moving forward. Your vet can help you understand when your cat may be a good candidate for insulin injections and when this solution may not be ideal for them, too.

Kidney Issues

Although much less common than the other items on this list, kidney infections, kidney failure, and other kidney health issues can contribute to itchy skin in some cats. However, if your cat is dealing with this type of problem, you will likely notice a wide range of other symptoms before skin itchiness.

Even so, the potential risk of kidney problems is one of the reasons why it is crucial to take your cat to the vet if the itchiness doesn’t resolve itself in a few days.

Book an Appointment with Your Heart + Paw Veterinarian

As you can see, most of the causes of itchy skin in cats can be resolved with the right treatment or medication. Very rarely, cats may have a more serious underlying health problem contributing to their skin itching, but it is much more likely that an itchy cat is dealing with some of the less-serious problems on the list above.

If your cat’s scratching behavior does not go away or it worsens in a few days, take them to the vet to be examined. Your Heart + Paw vet can help you determine what’s wrong with your cat and get them on the path to recovery in no time.

Use the online form to book an appointment for your cat at any of our Heart + Paw locations!


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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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