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Help Improve the Lives of Itchy Cats


    Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 1, 2023 by Crystal Uys


    Written by Rowyn Rose, Science Communications Specialist at Basepaws

    Do you have an itchy cat, or know someone else who does? Many itchy cats suffer from the increasingly common feline skin condition called dermatitis.

    Basepaws is a pet genetics company that collaborates with cat parents like you on research that helps cats live happier and healthier lives. They are currently researching two types of feline dermatitis: atopic dermatitis and food allergic dermatitis. If your cat suffers from either of these skin problems, their DNA could help improve the lives of many other cats who may suffer from these conditions.

    Dermatitis and Food Allergies in Cats

    Dermatitis is a general term for any type of skin inflammation. Feline atopic dermatitis, also known as non-flea/non-food allergic dermatitis, is the second most common allergy in cats after flea allergy dermatitis. It’s an uncomfortable and painful condition that affects 12.5% ​​of all cats.

    Feline food allergies follow closely in third. They can develop at any age, and it is still not fully known why some cats develop food allergies while others do not.

    Signs of Dermatitis in Cats

    Cats affected by dermatitis typically present with the following:

    • Abnormal itchiness (pruritus)
    • Over grooming
    • Hair loss, scabbing, sores, lesions

    The problem is that these signs are linked to both atopic dermatitis and food allergic dermatitis. This makes it very difficult to make an accurate diagnosis and implement targeted treatments that get cats the relief that they need. Basepaws wants to change this, and needs you and your kitty’s help!


    A New Future for Dermatitis Diagnosis in Cats

    Currently, no test exists that can reliably diagnose these two conditions. Basepaws is working to create a new oral swab test that could reliably distinguish between atopic or food allergic dermatitis, and they have already done preliminary research that shows how the state of the feline oral microbiome can be a powerful indicator of whether a cat has either.

    The feline oral microbiome is a community of microbial organisms, or microbes, that reside in the mouth. These microbes include bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea, and likely more microorganisms that have yet to be categorized. It turns out that the types and quantities of certain microbes provide valuable information about a cat’s risk for actually having a disease.

    How you and your cat can help

    You and your cat can be part of this groundbreaking research. If your kitty has a veterinarian-confirmed diagnosis of atopic or food allergic dermatitis, please click on the applicable link(s) below to be considered for their research programs:

    You can help advance scientific discoveries that could improve the lives of cats affected by dermatitis and many other common feline health conditions—all with just a 5 second swab of your cat’s mouth! You can also learn more about other Basepaws citizen scientist research programs that aim to unlock the mysteries of the feline oral microbiome and better understand the genetics associated with common feline diseases.

    Your cat can make a difference in the lives of many other cats and their humans!

    Photo Credits: Shutterstock, provided by Basepaws

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