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Optimeal® Blog


Olesya Shmorhun, DV

Olesya Shmorhun, a veterinary doctor, graduated from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Ukrainian National Agricultural University, acquired her education, and completed her training within the Alden-veterinary clinic. With over 20 years of experience, she has become a highly skilled professional in animal care and treatment, also gaining valuable experience through collaborations with prominent European brands in thepet food industry, enhancing her expertise in pet nutrition and well-being.
Optimeal® Blog

Does My Cat Have Allergies? Signs To Look for & How To Help

By Optimeal Team / Medical Reviewed by Olesya Shmorhun, DV

08
Feb

It’s not uncommon for pet parents to marvel at how much they have in common with their furry friends. You might notice that you and your feline share a sense of curiosity and a love of bacon. Unfortunately, you and your cat have something else in common. You can both get allergies. 

It can be distressing if you think your furry friend is struggling with allergies. This article will take a close look at all the different types of allergies cats can develop as well as symptoms to look out for and treatment methods to get your feline feeling better fast.

Do Cats Get Allergies?

The short answer is yes; cats can get allergies. Like in humans, allergies are an immune system response in cats triggered when they come into contact with certain substances. 

Substances that trigger allergic responses are known as allergens or antigens. Usually, allergens are completely harmless substances like dust, food, or pollen that your cat’s body mistakenly confuses for something dangerous. 

It is not uncommon for cats to have life-long allergies. Although some cat breeds are more at risk for developing feline allergies, all cats can potentially be born with or develop allergies at any point. The best way to help your furry friend fight off allergies is to make sure you treat their symptoms as soon as they arise.

Types of Cat Allergies

Before we take a close look at symptoms and treatment methods for your feline’s allergies, it’s important to understand all the different types of allergies your cat can have. There are six major types of cat allergies.

  1. Food allergies
  2. Environmental allergies, also known as atopic dermatitis
  3. Flea allergy dermatitis 
  4. Feline asthma or allergic bronchitis 
  5. Allergic contact dermatitis 
  6. Allergic reactions to drugs

Can Cats Have Seasonal Allergies?

Yes, seasonal allergies are not just a human thing; your cat can have them too. You might notice that your cat’s allergies worsen in the spring when everything starts to bloom. 

Like humans, you can tell if your cat is suffering from seasonal allergies if their allergies appear to be a lot worse after they come back inside. That said, cats can also experience year-long allergies. 

How Do I Know If My Cat Has Allergies?

Although cats can develop similar allergic symptoms to humans, such as itchy, runny eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose, there are more common symptoms to look out for in your furry friend. 

If your cat begins to scratch excessively and itch their skin, it may be a sign of allergies. They may also have allergies if they chew, lick, or rub their skin and fur. 

Generally speaking, your cat's skin will be the most affected part of their body if they have allergies, so look out for abnormal scratching and biting behavior. Sometimes, your cat's itchy skin may be so bothersome that it can itch or scratch to the point of hair loss. 

Other symptoms of allergies in cats are gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea, respiratory issues which can result in nasal discharge, and ocular symptoms such as conjunctivitis

If your cat experiences allergic bronchitis, they may cough, wheeze, and have difficulty breathing, much like a human with asthma. 

What Is Giving My Cat Allergies?

Several different allergens can trigger each type of allergy in cats. This section will examine some of the main causes of each type of allergy. 

Although it is not fully understood why cats develop allergies to food, it is known that they can become allergic to any carbohydrate, protein, preservative, or additive. That said, cats are most often allergic to chicken, fish, and beef. Allergies to grains are less common in cats but can occur. 

Environmental allergens can be triggered by many of the same things in cats as in humans. Pollen, dander, dust, yeast, and mold are the most common allergens that may make your furry friend uncomfortable. 

Although it is rare, some cats can also develop allergic contact dermatitis to different environmental allergens as well as household objects and medications. 

Additionally, your feline friend may also develop an allergy to fleas. Although all cats are bothered by fleas, some cats are particularly sensitive to the saliva in flea bites. It is a good idea to start on year-round flea control or flea prevention if you find your cat has flea dermatitis. 

If it appears as though your cat has asthma, likely something in the air, such as cigarette smoke, chemicals, or another airborne substance, is irritating their airways. 

Can My Cat Be Allergy Tested?

It is beneficial to bring your furry friend to the vet if you think they suffer from any type of allergy. The veterinarian may use a diagnostic cat allergy test to determine what exactly is causing your furry friend discomfort. 

They may test your cat’s blood for an allergen-specific reaction or perform a dermatological test on your cat’s skin. Blood tests can reveal several different types of allergies. 

The second type of testing, known as intradermal testing, involves injecting specific allergens into the skin to see what causes a reaction. Although this is more accurate, it usually involves a specialized veterinarian and sedation for your furry friend. 

If they suspect your cat is allergic to something in their diet, the vet may suggest an elimination to determine the food causing the reaction. Similarly, with allergic reactions to drugs, your vet will examine their medication history and may suggest eliminating specific drugs to determine what drug is the allergic trigger.

How Can I Help My Cat With Allergies?

Now that you know all about the symptoms and diagnosis options for cat allergies, you may wonder how to treat your furry friend with allergies. Luckily, there are several ways to treat allergies in cats, but the treatment depends on the cause of your feline’s allergies.

Some general tips for helping your cat suffering from allergies include:

- Bathing your cat regularly. We know that your feline is likely not a fan of the bathtub, but giving your cat baths can help dislodge allergens such as pollen, dust, and fleas that are stuck in their fur. You can also talk to your vet about using a medicated shampoo if your cat’s skin looks inflamed and irritated.

- Try to keep your house as free of allergens as possible. Given that cats can have allergic reactions to cigarette smoke, mildew, dust mites, and chemicals in cleaning products, keeping these items out of your house can help to improve their symptoms. You might also want to consider washing your cat’s bedding and items with hypo-allergenic detergent, especially if their skin is inflamed.

- Keep your cat’s litter box clean. Cats can develop an allergy to the chemicals and dust in their cat litter, so keeping it as clean as possible may help soothe their symptoms. Dust-free, chemical-free cat litter may also provide relief.

- Buy nutritious cat food. Giving your furry friend healthy cat food is another way to fight their allergies. If they are allergic to an additive, preservative, or dye, finding the most natural cat food available may be an important step to alleviating their allergy symptoms.

- Give your cat medication as needed. There are various flea and allergy medications, such as antihistamines, allergy shots, and corticosteroids your vet can prescribe if simple at-home measures are not enough to keep your furry friend content and healthy.

Conclusion

No one likes seeing their furry friend uncomfortable or in pain. Luckily, if your cat is experiencing allergies, there are several steps you can take at home and with the vet to get them back to their happy, healthy self in no time. 

 

Sources:

Monoclonal antibody improves cat allergen immunotherapy | National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Evaluation of the bacterial ocular surface microbiome in clinically normal cats before and after treatment with topical erythromycin | NIH

Experimental cat allergy shots provide longer-lasting relief | National Institutes of Health (NIH)

 

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