How to Tell If a Cat Has Allergies

We all know the common puffy, itchy red-eyes humans experience when allergic to cats. But, what's far less common, are the symptoms cats experience. Oh, yes! Our feline friends can have allergies. These allergies occur when a cat's immune system over-reacts to foreign substances (allergens) found in a cat habitat. This over-reactive immune system results in the following allergy symptoms:

  • Skin Itchiness -- Scratching, Rubbing or Head-Shaking
  • Sneezing, Coughing or Wheezing
  • Vomiting, Diarrhea, Gas and/or Bloating

While an occasional episode may be normal, ongoing scratching or vigorous sneezing is a red flag. Allergies, if left untreated, may become severe... leading to constant vomiting, diarrhea, snoring, or inflammation. For an accurate diagnosis, talk to your veterinarian to receive an accurate diagnosis. Cat allergies are generally divided into 3 main categories: flea, environmental, and food allergies. Some cats can be affected by more than one allergy. If your cat exhibits any of these allergy symptoms, get in touch with your vet to review treatment options.

Food Allergies

All cats with food allergies experience itchy skin, chronic ear infections, and gastrointestinal distress. Signs like vomiting, diarrhea, or increased gassiness are common. Whether your cat has been eating the same food for years or recently started a new diet, these allergies can occur at any time. To diagnose a food allergy, cats must try a novel ingredient diet or a hypoallergenic diet. If the symptoms disappear during that time, your cat has a food allergy. Drug allergies are relatively rare in cats, however, some adverse reactions can occur. Symptoms vary but can include similar signs to food allergies: itching, hives, fever, vomiting, hair loss. Severe cat allergy cases may cause anaphylaxis -- difficulty breathing, collapse, seizures, and possibly death. If you suspect that your cat is reacting poorly to a medication, call your vet immediately.

Environmental Allergies

Seasonal allergies to trees, weed, and grass pollen are common in cats. Signs of a cat allergy include licking, chewing, or scratching their bodies. And in severe cases, these allergens may cause significant skin damage. Indoor allergens like mold, dust, or household mites are also common. However, the symptoms are often year-round rather than seasonal. The best way to determine what your cat might be allergic to is to schedule an intradermal (skin) or blood test with your vet. Environmental allergens aren't just found in the earth. Some cats are very sensitive to perfumes. Frequently added to cat litters, cleaning products, air sprays, carpet powders, or dryer cloths... these allergens can leave your cat sneezing or itchy after contact.

Flea Allergies

You may not be able to find any evidence of fleas on your cat. This is because cats can become incredibly itchy and aggressively clean themselves. Severe licking, biting, or scratching -- particularly around the neck, thighs, belly, flanks, and base of the tail -- can be signs of a flea allergy in cats. Once identified, you can remove your cat’s allergy triggers. You can find a new diet, avoid scented products, and vacuum regularly to ease your cat's allergy symptoms. As well, your veterinarian may prescribe allergy medication.

Can cats have allergies?

Yes, all cats can develop different types of allergies. When your cat's immune system over-reacts to allergens found in its environment, allergy occurs.

What can I give my cat for allergies?

You can buy a special shampoo that helps prevent skin infection in cats. It's known that fatty acid supplements help relieve your cat's itchy skin during an allergic episode. Over the counter antihistamine drugs like Benadryl also works.

What food is good for cats with allergies?

If your cat has allergy, it's best that you put your pet on a hypoallergenic diet. Good hypoallergenic cat foods don't contain grains or gluten, is all natural with no artificial preservatives and ingredients, and has real meat as its first ingredient.

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Written by Leo Roux

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