Anti-itch medication for cats

Anti-itch medication for cats is used commonly in veterinary medicine. It can be used for a variety of conditions, but allergies are the most common. Anti-itch medications can be used at all ages, though some may be advised against in young cats.  

There are different types of anti-itch medications as well as different ways to use them, such as tablets, injections, or sprays. Your vet will work with you to find the best dose and type for your cat. The medical term for itching is pruritus.


What it’s for

What is anti-itch medication used for in cats?

Anti-itch medication is used for any conditions that cause itchiness in cats. Itchiness can present as scratching, biting, overgrooming or chewing at themselves. This can cause a lot of discomfort and self-trauma, so the use of anti-itch medication is extremely important. Anti-itch medication can be used for short and long-term treatment in cats.

Common uses of anti-itch medication in cats include:

anti-itch medication for cats


How it works

How does anti-itch medication work in cats?

These are the different types of anti-itch medications:

  • Anti-histamines (£): block the effects of histamine, which is a chemical in the body that causes swelling and other responses. They are not as reliable in cats compared with humans.
  • Steroids, such as prednisolone or dexamethasone (£): prescription medications with strong anti-inflammatory actions.
  • Atopica (cyclosporine) prescription medication (££): adjusts the immune response. Can take 4-6 weeks for full response.
  • Allergen Specific Immunotherapy (££):  A medication made specifically for each patient based on the results of skin or blood tests for allergies. It helps to desensitise the body to different allergens by introducing them in small amounts. Around 50-80% of pets respond positively to this treatment.

Supplements containing fatty acids can be useful for allergy relief in cats, often alongside other medications. Fatty acids contain anti-inflammatory properties and are more useful for long-term than short-term. Some shampoo and mousse products can also be useful for itching.

Our Joii vets are available 24 hours a day for advice, call us now if you have any questions.


Directions for use

How to use anti-itch medication in cats

We recommend always following your vet’s advice when giving medication to your cat. Missing a dose or giving more than advised can lead to side effects.

Especially for steroids, reducing the dose too quickly can cause severe side effects.

Some medications may be advised to be given with food or at a certain time of the day.

  • Antihistamines tablet or liquid: used for mild cases of itching, usually alongside other medications.
  • Steroids tablets, injection, topical spray or cream: used for mild to severe cases of itching and other diseases. Topical products are preferred when itching or lesions are mild and localised.
  • Atopica liquid: usually once daily, used long-term for allergy control.
  • Immunotherapy injections: starts every 2-3 weeks and builds up to every 4 weeks. Used for longer term allergy control.


Side effects

Most common side effects of anti-itch medication in cats

As with any medication, there can be side effects with anti-itch medications. These side effects are usually not common or serious and, in a lot of cases, very rare.

The most common side effects seen with anti-itch medications are:

  • Antihistamines: reduced appetite, lethargy, or sometimes excitement.
  • Steroids:  increased appetite, urination, and thirst. Lethargy and nausea are also possible. Topical steroids usually have fewer side effects than oral ones.
  • Atopica: vomiting, diarrhoea, reduced appetite. Less commonly, drooling, lethargy and weight loss.
  • Immunotherapy: itching or redness at the injection site


What to do if your cat shows any of these problems

Speak to a vet as soon as possible if your cat develops any new symptoms. They will be able to advise if it’s related to the medication and what to do next.


What happens if

Are there any contraindications of anti-itch medication in cats?

  • Antihistamines: care when using them in cats who have seizures or are pregnant.
  • Steroids: not recommended for pregnant cats or cats with kidney disease or diabetes. Special care when using live vaccines.
  • Atopica: not recommended for cats with FIV or FeLV. Not recommended for pregnant, lactating, or diabetic cats, and special care is required with live vaccines. It’s also advised against using it in cats who have some kinds of cancer. Safety has not been tested in cats under 6 months old or less than 2.3kg.
  • Immunotherapy: safety is not known for pregnant or lactating cats. Advised against in cats with immunosuppression, some cancers, and kidney disease.
Consult a vet - £28

Consult your vet online. Anyday, anytime.

Consult a Joii vet online for £28. Or free if you’re insured with one of our partners.

Developed by vets 🩺

QR code to app

How to get an

Join a practice

*It's free*

Download the app to register and become a member of Joii vets. In only a few taps you will have access to digital vet care 24/7 as well as a vet practice

Download the app

We’re writing as quick as we can

This article is currently being written by one of our expert vets. Check back soon.