While you may know about people being allergic to cats, you may not know about the different allergies that cats can have to the work around them. Although not all cats will experience allergies in their lifetime, all cats can be at risk for developing them. Allergy symptoms typically appear in cats after exposure to substances they cannot tolerate, either airborne, in food, applied to the skin, or transmitted by fleas. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common allergies seen in cats.
Some general symptoms of allergies in cats include sneezing, coughing and wheezing. Your cat may show signs that they are experiencing itchy skin, itchy and runny eyes, an itchy back or base of tail and itchy ears. Vomiting, diarrhea and chewing at paws or swollen paws are also common allergy symptoms.
Cats can experience allergic reactions to trees, grass, weeds, mold, mildew and dust pollens – just like people. In the home, perfumes, cleaning products, cigarette smoke, fabrics, rubber and plastic materials may cause reactions, while some cats can respond poorly to fleas or certain flea-control products. Prescription drugs can also affect your pet, just as some people are allergic to certain antibiotics or other drugs.
Allergies to food prove common as well among cats. Such cats commonly scratch at their heads and necks and have gastrointestinal problems, including vomiting and diarrhea. Food allergies could show up in cats at any age, and even develop after eating the same food for many years.
Cats that spend a lot of time outdoors could be more prone to flea and pollen allergies. Additionally, cats exposed to cigarette smoke can develop asthma. Likewise, sensitivity to environmental pollutants, pollen and stress can cause asthma attacks in cats.
If you believe your cat is showing allergy symptoms, visit your veterinarian, who will conduct a physical exam and perform some possible tests to determine the source of the allergy. When your cat has itchy or irritated skin, an allergy test called an intradermal skin test can help diagnose the irritant. For food allergies, cats are often given a prescription hydrolyzed protein diet for 12 weeks. This designated diet includes no flavored medications or treats and is free of potential allergy-causing ingredients. After this cleanse period, your vet will have you reintroduce foods to see which ones cause the reaction.
Removing the allergens from your cat’s environment is the best way to treat your pet. This can take many different forms, depending on the nature of the allergy. Common treatments include flea prevention methods, using dust-free and unscented litter, weekly vacuuming and cleaning of your pet’s living area and bedding and weekly or biweekly baths, in some cases. Allergy medications also exist for when you cannot remove allergens from your furry friend’s environment. For example, in the case of airborne pollens, your vet may prescribe a medication to help control the allergy.
If you find your cat seems more sneezy than usual or is itching more than normal, consult with your veterinarian and see if allergies could be to blame.