My cat has skin breakdown and scabs every summer – What Can I do?

Our question this week was:

My cat Charlie (an American longhair- 5 years old) has his skin break down with scabs every summer. When this happens he loses his hair in clumps. Even in the winter he takes allergy medicine every other day; but during summer months he needs to have steroid injections. The first year he lived with me he didn’t have this problem; it started after we moved. The only difference made is that the house we live in now has camel crickets in the basement that a few migrate upstairs occasionally. The vet says this would not cause his allergy. I have had him on every food that has been suggested and have not had any positive results. Can you please help me? I am an elderly woman on Disability and don’t have a lot of money for testing.

Thank you,

Donna Piko-Jones


Hi Donna– thanks for your email. Sorry to hear about your cats problem. A seasonal skin problem is most likely an allergy. I have not seen an allergy to camel crickets specifically that causes ongoing summer skin problems.

If it was a food allergy, I’d expect it to occur year round unless you change his food frequently. Food allergies are common in cats. There are many recommended food to deal with this. It is important to feed only that food for several weeks and no other food or treats to determine if the food change helps.

Another common allergy cats get is flea bite allergies. It can be caused by as little as one flea bite and you may never see the flea.

Without allergy testing, it will be difficult to know the underlying cause. Many veterinarians do allergy testing and if your vet doesn’t, you most likely can be referred to a veterinary dermatologist or to a local college of veterinary medicine that might be able to help you.

I’d recommend making sure your cat is on a flea prevention medication such as Frontline®, Program® or whatever your vet recommends to minimize flea problems in the case that is a problem.

This is a relatively common problem and many cats end up getting summer steroid shots just as your cat is getting.

A couple articles that might be helpful to you are Allergy Testing in Cats, Food Allergy in Cats and Flea Allergies in Cats.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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