Allergies are common in cats. They are the result of cats’ immune systems overreacting to foreign substances that are not inherently harmful. Common types of allergies come from allergens that they inhale, things that they eat, and substances that come into contact with their skin. Cats can be affected by any one of these types of allergies, or by a combination of two or more.
If you notice any of the symptoms of allergies in your cat, please see your veterinarian about them, and he or she will discuss with you the best strategy for your cat’s allergy relief.
One of the most common types of allergies in cats comes from fleas. Allergic reactions to fleas occur after a flea bites a cat and its saliva enters the skin. The symptoms can be severe itching, open sores, scabbing, and loss of fur around the bitten area. Open sores can lead to infection, so that is one reason (in addition to intense scratching) to keep fleas away from your cat with effective flea protection.
Airborne and contact allergies come from many of the same allergens that humans suffer from, including (but not limited to) rubber, plastic, cleaning products, fragrances, cigarette smoke, wool, dust, pollen, grass, mold, and medicines—even flea prevention! Food allergies are often discovered to ingredients that cats have been consuming over a long time. This type of allergy can be to proteins or the protein fraction of carbohydrates.
Your veterinarian is in the best position to determine what is causing your cat’s allergies and to suggest the best way to help your cat find relief.
A physical examination and complete history may reveal what your cat is allergic to. Otherwise, your veterinarian may suggest blood tests or a special dietary program to help identify the culprits. A skin test can help diagnose inhalant allergies and determine the best method for desensitizing your cat to the allergen.
When an allergy-causing agent is discovered, your veterinarian will recommend a treatment or strategy for removing the agent from your cat’s environment. For flea allergies, treatment will include flea prevention. Talk to the doctor about which flea control is best for your cat. In some cases, contact and airborne allergens may be fought with changes in your cat's environment or with prescription medication. A food allergy will require a long-term change in your cat’s diet.
When you receive help from your cat’s veterinarian, your pet's suffering from allergies will be greatly diminished, or finally gone! In most cases, allergies require long-term management to identify the specific allergy, and to maintain control of your cat's symptoms.