Itchiness, Desire to Scratch, Chew or Lick Causing Inflamed Skin in Cats

Pruritus in Cats

Pruritus is the medical term used to define a cat’s sensation to itch, or the sensation that provokes its desire to scratch, rub, chew, or lick its hair and skin. Pruritis is also an indicator of inflamed skin. Intense scratching can eventually lead to partial or full hair loss, but with treatment, prognosis is positive.

The condition or disease described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how pruritus affects dogs, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

Some of the most common symptoms seen in cats include:

  • Scratching
  • Licking
  • Biting
  • Chewing
  • Alopecia
  • Self-trauma
  • Inflammation of the skin


There are many causes of pruritus, including fleas, scabies, lice, allergies, bacterial infections, abnormal cell development (neoplasia), and immune disorders.


A skin biopsy may be needed to determine the diagnosis, as there are many triggers that can cause skin itching and the desire to scratch. Allergy testing is often used to determine and localize the cause of the itching or desire to scratch.


Something that causes itching


The prediction of a disease’s outcome in advance


Small, wingless insects that live as parasites on humans and some animals


The process of removing tissue to examine it, usually for medical reasons.

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