Most cats do not suffer much skin irritation when bitten by fleas.
They may scratch a bit or chew around where the flea has bitten, but are usually not all that bothered even when covered by quite a few fleas.
A flea allergic cat will have a different response.
A cat that is allergic to fleas will have a serious reaction to flea bites. The cat will itch intensely.
Actually it is not the flea bite itself that cause the itch, it's the allergen in the flea's saliva.
When the flea bites, a small amount of saliva is left on the cat's skin.
With cats that are hypersensitive the skin can become inflamed and very itchy. This often results in the cat losing hair and developing sores.
These sores are unsightly but do not present a great health risk.
What does present a health risk is, because the cat is scratching them constantly, the sores are prone to bacterial infection.
Flea allergic cats are most often bitten at the back of the head and neck, the base of the tail and the back of the legs.
This is because these are the areas that are difficult for the cat to groom, although of course flea bites can occur anywhere.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis (flea allergy,) is more prevalent in the summer and fall when there are more fleas around.
In hotter, more humid countries, allergic reaction may be a problem all year long because fleas flourish in higher temperatures.
Cats that are hypersensitive to bites can also be vulnerable to feline miliary dermatitis ( scabby cat disease.)
The best treatment for flea allergy dermatitis is prevention – keeping fleas away from your cat.
This is often easier said than done.
It's not only your cat that has got to be free of the parasites, your home has to be as well.
Whether or not your pet suffers from cat flea allergy, these tiny parasites can cause many problems.
Cats can get tapeworms from swallowing fleas that have ingested tapeworm eggs.
A heavy infestation of the parasites can cause a kitten, or a cat that is in a weakened condition, anemia from the loss of blood.
If your cat has fleas all your other pets will almost certainly have them, all your pets need to be treated.
In circumstances where effective flea control is not practicable, your veterinarian will decide on the best course of action to ease your pet's condition.
Your vet may administer a course of steroid treatment, either intravenously (injections,) or orally.
Due to the possibility of side effects, your vet will use the least amount of steroid necessary to give your pet relief.
Desensitization is another avenue your veterinarian may want to try.
Minute amounts of flea saliva extract are injected into the flea allergic cat; this treatment attempts to recondition the cat’s immune system over time so that it is ceases to be hypersensitive, or is less hypersensitive to bites.
This treatment is successful with many, but not all, felines that suffer from flea allergy, however it is a lengthy treatment and can therefore be quite costly.
To treat any secondary bacterial skin infection a course of antibiotics may be employed.
A cat with flea allergy dermatitis may not have many, if any, fleas on their coat. Fleas are hard to spot anyway, usually the only visible sign is the flea dirt (feces,) but felines with flea allergy groom themselves, often grooming excessively, removing any sign of the parasites.
Your veterinarian may perform intradermal skin testing. This test involves sedating the cat and shaving a large area of fur.
A variety of antigens are injected into the skin in a regular pattern. After a few hours, the shaved area is inspected to see if any of the antigens caused a reaction.
Read about other cat skin problems.