Cat keeps scratching but has no fleas – what to do next
Flea infestations are a common cause of excessive scratching in cats but there are many other reasons that can result in the same behavior.
Food or environmental allergies
Many cat owners will notice the cat scratching its neck more than other parts of the body. This might be a result of a food allergy. Have you recently made any changes to your cat’s diet? Or have you introduced any new treats the cat might be allergic to? The immediate solution would be to stop feeding your cat and to have it seen by the vet as soon as possible. A food trial might need to be conducted to figure out which food protein your cat isn’t responding well to.
Sensitivity to flea bites
Flea bites can make cats feel itchy for weeks depending on how sensitive they are to the flea’s saliva. Just because you don’t see any fleas doesn’t mean your cat isn’t affected by fleas. Hydrocortisone sprays may provide some temporary relief from the itching until the allergic effects of the flea saliva is fully gone from the cat’s body.
You should also know that fleas are very good at hiding, especially if this involves a long-haired cat. Just because you can’t find the fleas doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
The excessive scratching could also be a result of dry skin. Lack of grooming, for example, can result in dry skin. For example, some cats may keep scratching their neck or back because they aren’t able to groom it properly. You may notice some matting around the area where the cat scratches.
While it won’t resolve the immediate problem, supplementing your cat’s diet with products such as fish oil may help reduce the likelihood of your cat developing these unwanted scratching behaviors. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acid, which promotes healthy skin and fur via its anti-inflammatory property.
Excessive scratching could also be a result of ear infections like yeast overgrowth. This is more likely for cats that constantly scratch their ears and neck. The vet may prescribe some ear drops and put on an Elizabethan collar around the cat’s neck until the scratching stops.