By: Talin Seta Shahinian
Chances are you know someone who starts sneezing and getting watery-eyed when all the trees and flowers are in full bloom or from allergies to dust or other airborne irritants. Hopefully, it’s not you doing all the sneezing! However, did you know that cats can have allergies too? Yes, your feline friend can get the achoos and other symptoms also. Here are some of the signs to be aware of, types of allergies kitties can have, and potential treatments.
What Kinds Of Allergies Can Your Cat Have?
Cats can have a spectrum of allergies. Your cat can have environmental allergies, flea allergies, and food allergies. They can have one or more of the following:
- Sensitivities to organic indoor and outdoor substances, such as pollen, grass, plants, mold, dust, and mildew.
- Reactions to cat litters containing chemicals.
- Allergies to synthetic materials such as Fabric, rubber, and plastic.
- Food and food additives allergies.
- An allergy to fleas or flea-control treatment product reactions.
- Allergies to perfumes or dyes.
How Will You Know If Your Cat Has An Allergy?
If your cat has an allergy, he may display some of the following symptoms:
- Sneezing, coughing, wheezing.
- Itchy and runny eyes.
- Itchy skin.
- Swollen paws.
Seasonal allergies are easier to spot as they will only come around once or twice a year, depending on what your cat reacts to. Year-round allergies can take a little more sleuthing to spot. Food allergies often present with signs such as itchy skin around their face and neck, combined with vomiting or diarrhea. A flea allergy can show up as irritation on the back or near the base of your cat’s tail. If your cat starts to snore and hasn’t before, if pre-existing snoring seems to increase, or if they exhibit respiratory issues, it can stem from an inflamed throat. This inflammation is often due to irritation from something your cat has inhaled, such as perfume or smoke.
Diagnosing Cat Allergies
If any of these symptoms appear, you must get your cat examined by a veterinarian to determine precisely what’s going on. Don’t try to self-diagnosis or self-treat your kitty’s condition, as you can end up doing more harm than good. A vet will take into account your cat’s medical history and perform a physical exam.
To determine the cause of your cat’s allergy, your vet will perform diagnostic tests, usually a blood test, a skin test, or both, if she’s not sure what the culprit is and wants to get a better picture of your cat’s allergic responses. For a blood test, some blood is drawn from your kitty and then evaluated by a lab. In a skin test, small amounts of allergic substances are injected into your cat’s skin. If there’s an allergy to that substance, usually a reaction in the form of a hive will appear on your cat’s skin.
How Are Cat Allergies Treated?
Your vet may prescribe cortisone pills to relieve itching. Antihistamines may be another treatment option. Topical treatments such as lotions, ointments, ear drops, or eye drops may also be used to give your kitty relief from their symptoms. If your cat is diagnosed with Allergic Dermatitis, skin irritation from flea bites, your vet can recommend and prescribe flea prevention products, to head off these allergic flea reactions before they start.
Here’s What You Can Do To Help
Cats are notoriously fastidious creatures who bathe themselves regularly. Still, in the case of a sensitive, allergic kitty, you can give them a helpful boost by bathing them with a gentle, hypoallergenic cat shampoo (even if you’re buying over the counter, ask your vet for a good recommendation.) If your cat doesn’t stand for being in the water, you can wipe down their fur with cat wipes. Make sure not to over-bathe your cat, though, which can dry out her skin and lead to more irritation. Consult your vet for recommended bathing frequency.
If you suspect that your cat is allergic to their litter, transition to a natural litter by slowly introducing a bit of it at a time into their usual litter so that they have time to get used to it. However, if your cat’s reaction is severe, it’s best to swap out their litter all at once completely.
Keeping your home as clean as possible also helps their allergies (and yours, if you’re prone to them too). Minimize dust; sweep, mop, and vacuum often, and if you can, stay away from wall-to-wall carpeting in favor of hardwood, tile, stone, or laminate floors that are easier to keep clean and don’t provide places for allergens to hide. If you smoke, don’t smoke around your cat.
Avoid using perfume near your cat; try a mini-atomizer that you can keep in your purse to spritz yourself outside the front door or in your car. By the time you return home, the scent should fade enough that you can be near your cat. However, if your cat is still exhibiting a reaction, you may have to discontinue using fragrances. Tell yourself it’s worth it for the love of your feline companion. After all, nothing beats hearing a rumbling purr while you pet them or an affectionate headbutt from them at the end of the day.
Keeping Your Feline Buddy Well Year-Round
If you live in NW Wisconsin, Purple Cat Mobile Vet Clinic is here to help you keep your cat healthy and happy. We are a high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic. We see cats exclusively. You can check out our Facebook page for more helpful information on all things feline!