Just like humans, cats can get allergies. This means that the cat’s body is sensitive to a particular substance that is being fed to him/her or is present in the environment and it can cause you cat to become bothered, uncomfortable, or sick. If you notice your cat acting differently or being more lazy than usual, there could be an allergy attributing to their behavior.
Signs of Allergy in Your Cat
Following are some of the most common signs of allergy in cats. It should be noted that your cat may show only a few of these signs and just because one or more of these is present also doesn’t absolutely indicate an allergy, so it’s wise to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to get a proper diagnosis.
- Coughing and sneezing
- Hair loss
- Reddening of skin
- Excessive licking
- Runny nose and eyes
- Swollen paws
Allergens cause irritation and the cat may be seen biting her tail or paws to relieve this irritation. Scratching and chewing can result in hair loss and even open wounds. Diarrhea and vomiting are mostly seen in cats affected by food allergies.
If the face or nose of the cat is swollen due to allergy, she can have difficulty breathing. If your cat has asthma, this problem can be life-threatening.
What Type of Allergies Can Cats Get?
There are different types of allergies that your cat can suffer from. The particular type of allergy your cat develops depends on the environment he is living in and the food he is being fed.
Broadly, allergies can be divided into the following types:
The most common environmental allergens include pollens, fungi, dust, grass, perfumes, etc. Not all cats are allergic to an allergen, some can handle them just fine. The reaction of a cat to an allergen varies from cat to cat. Some cats can be allergic to cigarette smoke or perfume while others might not be.
Since these environmental allergens are present everywhere, they are very difficult to prevent, unless you can isolate the exact thing that your cat is reacting to so you can eliminate it. Obviously this works better with things like perfumes and detergents, because you can stop using those. There’s not much you can do about pollens.
Some cats are allergic to a certain type of food. Feeding them these foods can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, itchiness, and general discomfort in the cat. Food allergy can be prevented by consulting your veterinarian about your cat’s diet plan. There are common foods that cause issues for cats and those can be eliminated first to diagnose the issue.
The most common foods that can cause allergic reactions in a cat are:
- Dairy products
It is important to note that not all cats are allergic to these foods. Just like with humans, only a small percentage of cats are affected by a food sensitivity. But it is one of the avenues to consider if your cat is having issues.
This is the most common type of allergy in cats. Fleas are small insects that live on the skin of your cat. They are ectoparasites and transmit diseases. They draw blood from the body and weaken it.
When a flea bites a cat, it injects saliva. The parasite present in the saliva can multiply and travel in the body of the cat. A bite from a flea can be very irritating. Cats scratch their skin to lessen the irritation. This can lead to hair loss and redness in some patches on the skin.
The bright side is that many flea prevention products are available that can save your cat from a flea allergy and the diseases transmitted by fleas.
Diagnosing Allergies in Cats
An accurate diagnosis of the allergy type is important. As mentioned earlier, there are many types of allergies. So effective treatment is possible only if the diagnosis is correct. If you suspect that your cat may be showing signs of allergy, you should visit your veterinarian. A review of medical history and physical examination can help your veterinarian diagnose the allergy.
Sometimes, blood or a skin test is needed for confirmation of allergy. In a blood test, a sample of blood is taken from a vein and sent to a laboratory for detection of a particular allergen. In a skin test, small injections of a particular allergen are given and observed for inflammation. If a hive appears at the site of injection, your cat is allergic to that particular allergen.
Treatment For Cat Allergies
If your cat is suffering from allergies, the treatment protocol depends on the type of allergy he is having. Your veterinarian can prescribe medicine or dietary supplements for allergy.
If your cat has a flea allergy, you should use a flea and tick control product. This product should be approved by your veterinarian. Different lotions and ointments are available but they should be used only after approval from your veterinarian.
Antihistamine and cortisone pills are usually recommended depending on the symptoms shown by the cat.
Generally, cats are allergic to one or some of the ingredients in food. An elimination diet is used to check which ingredient is causing trouble in the cat showing food allergy.
In an elimination diet, different ingredients are removed from the diet, and the cat is checked for signs of allergy. The ingredient that causes signs to appear is the one responsible for allergy. That ingredient is removed from the diet.
Prevention of Allergies
- Preventing the allergens from entering your cat’s environment is the best way to go. If your cat suffers from a dust allergy, you should use dust-free cat litter. You should maintain a hygienic environment in your home and cat’s crate. Bathe your cat if she is feeling itchy.
- If your cat is allergic to cigarette smoke, avoid smoking around your cat.
- If your cat is allergic to pollens, you should try to keep her indoors most of the time during that season. Keep your windows closed as pollens can travel through the air. Vacuuming regularly can also help reduce the level of allergens in the home, as long as it’s done regularly.
- When going out for a walk, make sure your cat doesn’t come in contact with other cats. Stray and non-vaccinated cats can transmit different diseases and allergens to your cat. If you came in contact with other pets, make sure you wash your hands properly before you pet or hug your cat.
- Provide your cat with a healthy, balanced diet. If your cat is allergic to a particular food type, avoid feeding that to her.
While it is possible for your cat to get allergies, it doesn’t have to be a major issue, as long as you get her proper treatment and keep her environment or diet clear of the harmful allergen.
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