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We have an 8 year old cat that in the last year has started scratching the top of his head and chin on and off. He gets to the point that touching the top of his head to pet him causes him to shake his head or lean to the left and try to bring his back paw in to scratch. His chin is also the same, if you pet him there he scratches with the back leg. We see big tufts of hair everywhere since he also seems to scratch his neck.

We took him to the vet twice about this issue. She suggested at first that it might be the bowls but we have tried ceramic and stainless steel for weeks before going to the vet the first time at the start of 2020. The cat always had ceramic bowls but about 2 years ago we introduced an auto feeder since we all traveled a lot that had a plastic bowl. We have thrown the auto-feeder out more than a year ago so that's not the issue.

We used to feed him dry food (Royal Canin for sterilized cats) for the last 5-6 years and he never had issues. The vet suggested to try a hypoallergenic dry food, so we tried the one by Royal Canin and the one by VetLife. We first tried VetLife and he didn't seem to respond to it. We tried it for around a month and then switched to Royal Canin. That was 2 month ago. The cat didn't scratch all that much over the last 2 month but this last week he's been scratching furiously.

The vet also suggested to give our cat a drop of Cortisone to ease his scratching but I somehow feel that although this might alleviate the symptoms, we're not really dealing with the cause.

We have considered the bowls, the food, the vet excluded cat acne and parasites. He's an indoor cat and the house gets cleaned constantly and the Roomba goes out once per day. Perhaps it's a seasonal allergy but we're not sure.

Our current vet didn't seem interested in looking further. We're planning a trip to a different vet in the next few days to see if they have any ideas.

What else could be causing this itchiness? Our cat seems exhausted from all the scratching. We can barely touch him or he starts scratching and he's a very affectionate cat and loves pets.

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    Can you see anything different about his skin? Is there more dandruff than usual, or does it look scaly? – Gwendolyn Feb 1 at 19:58
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    @Gwendolyn Sadly he's all white and cannot see dandruff even at a closer look. The fur on the top of his head and the sides on his neck seems normal. His chin fur seems pretty "strange" but I haven't seen any wounds. He usually scratches his chin so badly that he makes it bleed. But this time around there's been no blood. I cannot tell if his skin is scaly honestly. – Xander Feb 2 at 13:23
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I'm not confident enough to diagnose the cat, but my thoughts were too long to stay in the comments. I think very much sounds like a food allergy - itching and skin issues are the first and most common sign of food allergy. Check also the cat's bowel movements for any oddities (straining? too frequent?).

Food allergies are almost impossible to test for, which is possibly why your vet suggested the shot, for simplicity. It may be worth getting a second opinion from a different vet, especially because my suggestions should be run past a vet anyway.

The best way to determine if it's a food allergy is to test different foods on your cat. These foods should be vet approved. You need to:

  • test a single food for 6-8 weeks
  • ensure that food does not have any of the same proteins as foods your cat has eaten before
  • ensure the cat does not eat anything else during this trial

THIS is a really helpful article to get you started.

I hope this helps give you a direction to start in!

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    Thanks Gwendolyn! I appreciate it that you took the time to write this up. We tried 2 hypoallergenic foods so far. It seemed like he reacted well to the Royal Canin one but the last couple of weeks have been bad. We have a new kitten but we keep their food separate. But I'm sure he ate a couple of times from the kitten's food, but that was probably a week ago. We're really careful. I hope the fact that he ate from the kitten's food didn't trigger a reaction. Have you had any experience with such food? Any you could recommend we try? I was thinking of getting this Royal Canin Anallergenic. – Xander Feb 4 at 9:04
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    I, or rather, my cats, don't have any experience with hypoallergenic foods. Have you tried any wet food options? If the cat is dry-itchy, introducing more liquids into their diet could help. I'm also a big fan of grain-free/filler-free foods. Blue Buffalo is one of my go-to brands. This one looks good, and uses Duck, a pretty unique protein your cat may not have eaten yet, and it includes fish oil for dry skin: chewy.com/blue-buffalo-basics-limited/dp/… – Gwendolyn Feb 4 at 21:04

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