Can My Cat Have Allergies?
If your cat has runny eyes and has been sneezing, you may wonder if your furry friend might have allergies. You might even wonder if they can suffer the same as people do from seasonal, environmental, and food allergies.
Can my cat have allergies? The short answer is yes – allergies are one of the most common medical issues a cat can have.
This article will explore whether cats can have allergies and if so, what kinds, and what to do about it.
Symptoms of Allergies in Cats
Before we dive into what kinds of allergies cats can have, we must first discuss the symptoms of allergies in cats.
When having an allergic reaction to something, cats will exhibit similar symptoms that humans do. For example, cats may cough, sneeze, wheeze, and show signs of skin irritation by scratching, biting, or licking themselves.
Cats may exhibit additional symptoms when having an allergic reaction to food. These can include vomiting, diarrhea, and gas, among other things.
What Kinds Of Allergies Can Cats Have
Cats are like people in the sense that they can have allergies that are seasonal, environmental, and food related.
Seasonal allergies are easy to spot, but may not be as easy to pinpoint. They often show up when the seasons change, especially from winter to spring. Cats can be allergic to things such as:
- Mold from trees
- Fungi (spores)
Environmental allergies can be much harder to pin down because many things in your cat’s home could be the cause. Some environmental things that could cause allergies in cats include:
- Household cleaners
- Cat medications
- Cat litter with fragrance
- Air misters
- Dust mites
Often times, cats can develop an allergy to their food, or a specific ingredient in their food. The usual food allergies include:
- Vegetable proteins (corn, wheat)
- Food additives and preservatives
A food allergy can occur at any age. It could take anywhere from months to years for an allergy to develop. The most common allergies are dairy, fish, and beef. Once the allergy has manifested, it will almost always be lifelong. Some breeds, such as the Siamese, are more prone to developing a food allergy than other breeds.
What about Flea Allergies?
Fleas are the most common irritant and are thought to be the cause of about a third of skin problems in felines. Fleas are easy to spot; besides the scratching, you will notice fleas and flea excrement on your cat. You will probably see tiny, white flea eggs on darker colored surfaces in your home as well.
Some cats are so allergic to fleas they will claw themselves into bloody shreds seeking relief. A single flea bite can cause a severe allergic reaction which is a response to the flea’s saliva.
There are several good topical remedies to keep fleas off your cat. Once the fleas are gone and kept off, and the home environment is flea-free, the allergy will clear up. If your cat is severely allergic to fleas, you need to eliminate fleas from your home as well as treat your cat. Even with good topical medications, a single bite can still trigger an immune response and cause your cat to suffer.
Treating Allergies In Cats
Diagnosing and treatment will probably involve an approach that requires more than one path. Once you know what is causing the allergy, the first step is avoidance of the allergen.
For example, a dietary change may be needed for cats that have a food allergy. Switching to a different food altogether is a good start, but there could be an ingredient that is common in multiple cat foods that is causing the allergic reaction.
Other allergies may require that the cat stays indoors. If the cat has a seasonal allergy, you will need to keep the windows closed to keep as many irritants out as possible. You may need to use hypoallergenic cat litter, or keep the home very clean.
Environmental allergies can be a little more tricky to treat. It might be good to start by deep cleaning your home, including getting all of the air ducts cleaned of dust and mites, and checking the home for mold.
Once you have ruled out dust and mold as a potential allergen, you can remove things from your cat’s environment one by one to find the problem. This might be certain cleaning supplies, perfumes, colognes, and air fresheners, and even their kitty litter. This may seem like a slow process, but it is necessary to find out exactly what allergen is bothering your cat!
Additional Tips and Tricks
Additionally, your cat may need prescriptions to control their allergy problems. Some of the drugs that might be prescribed are, antihistamines, corticosteroids, cyclosporine, among others.
Remember to never medicate your cat without your veterinarian’s advice first, and never give your cat human medication! Doing so can cause side effects such as organ failure and even death.
Feline allergies can be a challenge to get under control. Some allergies may be easier to diagnose and pinpoint compared to others, but with the help of a veterinary professional, it can be done.
Once you know what is causing your cat’s immune system to inappropriately respond, you can take the necessary measures to bring relief to your cat. Though a cat will always have the allergy, it doesn’t mean suffering has to be a part of it. An allergic cat, once diagnosed and given the proper treatment, can go on to live a quality life.