Being itchy is no fun and your cat doesn’t enjoy scratching all day either. One of the most common causes of itchiness is allergies, and cats can have allergies of all kinds. MissionVet is here to help pet owners understand the most common allergies in cats and how they are treated.
Common Types of Allergies in Cats
There are different kinds of allergies that cats can experience. Like people, cats can have allergies to foods, medications, plants, and more. These allergies generally come with symptoms such as:
- Excessive licking (grooming)
- Pulling or biting out hair
- Chewing at paws or body
- Ear infections
- Red, dry and/or flaky skin
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Snoring due to inflammation in the throat
- Swollen, sensitive paws
The most common allergies in cats are either environmental, fleas, and/or food. Each of these allergens can cause the symptoms listed above.
It can be hard to protect your cat against environmental allergies such as pollen, grass, fungi, mold, and dust. Since these allergens often can’t be avoided, your cat may need one or more allergy treatments to prevent flare-ups.
Additionally, cats can be allergic to cigarette smoke, perfume, and cleaning products. All of these are a product of the environment that your cat lives in that could cause problems for the feline. When possible, try to avoid any products that seem to irritate your cat or cause allergies.
While most animals will become itchy when bitten by fleas, a flea allergy can make your cat incredibly sensitive to just a few flea bites. When a flea bites your cat, the saliva can irritate your cat all over, not just where your cat was bitten. To prevent a flare-up, it is best to keep your cat from getting bitten in the first place. You can help them avoid flea bites by using a flea prevention product year-round. Ask your veterinarian which of the many flea prevention products are recommended for your cat.
The third most common allergy that cats deal with is a food allergy. Cats can be allergic to a variety of different foods much like humans. Food allergies can be hard to diagnose, but many food allergic pets feel much better once you find an appropriate diet.
Generally, food allergies cause itchiness of the skin; between ten and 15 percent of cats may also have gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.
Diagnosing and Treating Allergies in Cats
To diagnose allergies in cats, a veterinary dermatologist can look over your pet’s medical history and perform a physical exam. In some cases, a test can be performed to look for environmental allergies. If your veterinarian believes that the allergy is food related, they may want to narrow down the cause by changing your pet’s diet until they eliminate the problem food.
When it comes to battling allergies, in some cases, the best thing that you can do for your cat is focus on prevention. If your cat has allergies to cleaners, medications, foods, plants, or other things that are avoidable, try to keep them away from these items. For things like pollen or dust, your cat may need medication to treat the allergies, because these things are very hard to avoid.
Treating allergies can be complicated if the source of the allergies can’t be determined. It may take some time with a veterinary dermatologist to find the source of your cat’s allergies.
Allergies and Asthma
Cats with asthma are likely to be more affected by allergies than cats without asthma. If your cat has both allergies and asthma, your veterinarian can prescribe medications that will help open your cat’s airway in the short-term. Long-term solutions may include corticosteroids.
Remember that cigarette smoke is very dangerous for cats with both allergies and asthma. As a general rule, it is never a good idea to smoke around your pets, but for those with preexisting medical issues like asthma, it can be detrimental to their health.