What is Bothering Your Cat? It Could Be Feline Allergies
From food to pollen, a rundown of common cat allergies
Like people, our feline friends can develop allergies. This happens when their immune systems become sensitive to substances present in their surroundings. Known as allergens, these irritating substances may not bother you or other animals in your home, but as your cat’s body tries to get rid of the offending substances, he might show all kinds of symptoms.
Because there is such a wide variety of allergens, cat allergies are generally divided into 3 main categories: flea allergy, environmental allergies (atopic dermatitis), and food allergy. Flea allergy and environmental allergies – the ones that cause “hay fever” symptoms in humans – are the most common. However, cats often have multiple allergies, so a thorough examination by your veterinarian or veterinary dermatologist is recommended.
Allergic kitties are often very itchy and have skin problems associated with allergic dermatitis. They also might exhibit some of these symptoms:
- Sneezing, coughing, and wheezing – especially if the cat has asthma
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Ear infections
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
- Paw chewing or swollen, sensitive paws
There are a variety of allergens that cause these symptoms:
- Pollen, grass, plants, mold, mildew, and other organic substances
- Perfumes and colognes
- Fleas or flea-control products
- Household cleaning products
- Prescription drugs
- Some cat litters
Gastrointestinal symptoms usually accompany a food allergy, so it is important to avoid feeding your cat food to which he or she has a known allergy. Also, allergies tend to be more common among outdoor cats because they are exposed to a wider range of potential allergens, especially from plants and organic matter.
If something appears to be making your kitty miserable, the best thing to do is pay your veterinarian a visit. He or she will initially do a complete history and physical exam for your cat to determine the source of the allergies.
If your vet suspects your cat has allergies, he might want to perform blood tests or experiment with your kitty’s diet to narrow down the cause. Or, if your vet thinks your cat has a skin allergy, your cat might be referred to a veterinary dermatologist.
Treatment & Prevention
The best way to treat your cat’s allergies is to remove the allergens from his or her environment. For instance, if your cat’s allergies are caused by fleas, using veterinarian-recommended flea and tick preventatives can eliminate the cause. If