Itching in cats or ‘feline pruritis’ is increasing in incidence, just like allergies in humans. It tempts the animal into scratching its body.
And it ends up damaging his hair, coat, and then skin. But when you see your cat scratching its face until it bleeds, pay special attention to it. Why?
Cats and dogs, in fact, most animals have grooming instincts. They lick their body and keep them clean. But this is quite tricky with the face, for obvious reasons!
So, when the face itches, the innocent animal can only use his paws and nails to scratch. And bleeding is unavoidable. The wound can get worse because the animal does not know where to stop.
So, today we will discuss in detail the probable reasons why your cat scratches its face until it bleeds? And how to stop it?
Why Does My Cat Scratch Face Until It Bleeds?
It is very painful for an animal to suffer from constant itching and irritation. And on top of that, the animal has to go through the pain of the wound from scratching.
Even then, itching doesn’t stop, and it gets worse over time. Instead of using temporary ailments for the itching, irritation, or bleeding wound, find out the cause.
Important causes of feline pruritis or cat scratching face until it bleeds include:
Parasites, most commonly fleas, are the most notorious culprits of pruritis, itching, and scratching in cats.
Fleas are not even visible, especially in cats with thick coats. Fleas find a very comfortable living in warm, shut environments such as the modern heated homes in the U.K.
These tiny bugs may be visible, and you can draw your conclusion. But at times, they are not. Look for the following signs in that case:
- Red, sore skin
- Patchy baldness
- Non-stop scratching
- Spots of hair loss
- Black specs in the cat’s fur
What To Do?
When you find your cat scratching face until it bleeds and the above symptoms too, this is what you should do:
- Use a fine metal-toothed comb and run it through your cat’s fur coat several times a day.
- Make sure to kill the fleas by putting the comb in warm water with a detergent.
2. Food intolerance/Allergy
Cat scratching face until it bleeds might be an allergic response to certain foods or ingredients of the cat food brand you are using. And many cases of feline pruritis on the face respond to diet changes.
This conclusion is only drawn when no other cause of itching and scratching on the face can be pointed out.
Merely changing the brand won’t make much difference because the ingredients more or less would stay the same.
You need to consult your vet for an alternative diet. He will make you an assortment of specific ingredients and may ask you to feed home-prepared food for a while.
The trial can get complicated when the cat is getting its allergy from the food that your neighbors may be feeding him!
Atopy or atopic dermatitis refers to an allergic response precipitated by some environmental allergen. The most common allergies in cats are pollen and house dust.
And your cat may respond to them in the form of pruritis, red, sore skin on the face, and scratching face until it bleeds. When nothing else works, your vet will advise you to get your cat allergy tested.
What To Do?
Atopy is something you and your pet have to live with. It requires life-long medication and maintenance. But even medications such as antihistamines can only offer a little help.
If your cat is lucky enough to get its allergen identified, a vaccine can be helpful. Again, the disease rarely goes away.
4. Ear Mites Or Other Mites
As a cat owner, your vet must have warned you against inflammation of the ear or otitis externa due to ear mites.
These tiny critters can also cross the limits and wander around the skin of the head, face, and neck. The cat ends up with pruritic skin conditions in these areas.
It brings an unsurpassable instinct of itching and scratching its face until it bleeds.
An equal or sometimes worse problem is the pruritis caused by harvest mites. These are tiny orange little dots usually found between skin flaps, such as the henry’s pocket of the ears.
Some breeds have more tendency to it, and hence the distressing skin condition as well.
How To Stop It?
If you see your cat with the following symptoms, the chances are that mites have gotten your partner:
- Oral, topical, or systemic medications such as ivermectin
- Thorough cleaning of the area
- Apply baby oil on the area inhabited by mites to smother them
5. Insect Bites
If the cat scratching face until it bleeds has a sudden onset, it might be some insect bite. It can lead to dramatic symptoms of itchy, irritated skin with swelling and pain.
Flying insects such as mosquitoes usually bite the non-hairy parts of the body, such as the nose bridge and ears. So, an insect bite can be a cause of your cat scratching its face until it bleeds.
How To Deal With It?
- Over-the-counter steroids
- Scrape the area for the sting to ooze out.
- A cold pack of peas or ice can help relieve the excessive itching.
6. Anxiety Or Compulsive Disorder
Your cat may be scratching its face until it bleeds out of anxiety. It again can have a wide set of possible reasons:
- You just moved to a new location.
- You have a new pet or baby at home.
- Your cat stays mostly indoors. And it gets bored due to lack of activity and engagement.
So, basically, a change in the cat’s environment precipitates anxiety. Or cat scratching face until it bleeds may be a compulsive disorder that has its roots in some other disease.
It could be a painful condition, some neurologic disease, or a dermatologic disorder.
An extensive medical workup by an expert is required to rule out the possible underlying medical conditions.
Reach the underlying medical condition that causes compulsive behavior. If there isn’t any, you can use the following little remedies to manage it:
- Stick to a schedule. Feed your cat at a fixed time every day. The same goes for playtime, exercise, and socializing.
- Use pain and itch relievers when scratching gets bad.
- Eliminate unpredictable events, such as guests, changes of plans, or interaction with strangers.
7. Dry Skin
If your cat’s environment is dry indoor air for most of the day, your cat might get dry, itchy skin. Excessive licking and grooming may also make its skin dry.
It may feel uncomfortable and scratch its face until it bleeds, wounding it as a result.
Remedies For Your Cat’s Dry Skin
If the reason for your cat scratching face until it bleeds is dry skin, this is what you can do:
- Eliminate causes of dry skin such as allergies, cold, dry air.
- Use a humidifier
- Increase the proportion of protein and omega-3 fatty acids in your cat’s diet
Scratching face until it bleeds can be distressing and discomforting for your furry fellow a great deal. And equally so for you. And you may want to get rid of it at the very moment.
But skin diseases, especially in cats and dogs, can be tricky. It may take a few trial therapies to get to the culprit. Be patient with your animal.
Give him a little more attention, a few more cuddles. Your cat could use some soothe and calm in this distress!
A passionate content creator on pet behavior, nutrition choices, and health, Mike is an experienced pet expert. He has been writing on multiple websites to compensate for his passion for cats. Mike grieves around plenty of pets in his parents’ house. At the start of his career, he had a sturdy intention to be a part of pet care by any means.
With his affiliation to Purrfect n’ Pawesome, he found a way to satiate his craving to participate in pet health, wellness, and behavior analysis. He has been a significant part of our team and a major contributor in equipping our site with useful, authentic, and research-backed articles.
“I love pets as much as I love to travel to explore multiple places and lifestyles. I have been attached to this pawsome platform for many years, and my experience regarding pets has enhanced significantly by using various devices to write articles. I believe in writing my thoughts and experiences, so I try to write down the experience and learnings for my readers no matter where I am and what my mood is.”