How to Manage Allergies in Cats

Manage Cat Allergies in Cats; Cat allergies often turn out to be a big challenge in cats’ lives and ours.

Unfortunately, untreated allergies can worsen by developing into more serious allergy attacks that can lead to further consequences and a tendency to become allergic to more substances.

Identifying potential allergens and taking preventive measures, with some advice from the vet, are the means through which this challenge of allergies can be overcome.

How to Manage Allergies in Cats

How to Manage Allergies in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Understanding Cat Allergies

Sore, bald, or thinning patches around your cat’s eyes, neck, or ears that make her scratch all the time? We all recognise these signs of allergies—when our immune system responds in a way that is out of proportion to the irritating materials.

Mast cells release histamines and cause symptoms in your cat after exposure to an allergen. These allergens are also present both indoors and outdoors. They could take the form of anything from pollens or dust to some foods and fleas, but all these create an inflammatory response with symptoms such as skin sores, scabbing, hair loss, redness, and constant itching.

Frequent or prolonged allergic reactions can debilitate your cat’s immune system, and dangerous complications include fungal or bacterial infections on the skin or in the sinuses, lungs, and ears.

Seasonal Symptoms

The allergies can be further segmented into two main categories: seasonal and year-round.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD): Flea infestations can occur at any time, but their greatest incidence seems to be during summer. The most common allergy by far in cats is an allergy caused by flea bites, specifically by the saliva of the flea. All it takes is one bite to trigger a reaction. This reaction is the allergic response to the proteins or antigens in the flea’s saliva. Areas that are more prone to fleas are the base of the tail, neck, and head. Cats may itch severely for several weeks after a single bite of a flea. Redness of the skin, discomfort, excessive grooming, and loss of hair can result in sores and scabbing.

Environmental Allergies: Environmental allergies are also commonly referred to as “Atopic dermatitis” and occur due to airborne irritants in the form of pollens, or mould and house dust mites. Pollens float into the air from trees, grasses, and flowers and enter your home through any open windows or doors. It then sticks on the fur of your cat, causing skin infection and itching.

Changes to routine may be necessary, such as keeping your cat indoors at certain times of high pollen seasons or perhaps modifying your home to reduce dust and mould.

Year-round allergies

Dust Mites: Ordinary house dust is a very good breeding ground for dust mites, a major cause of cat allergies, particularly the dust often found in carpets and bedding.

Mould Spores: Mould flourishes in damp, humid conditions. Spores may cause further allergic problems for sensitive cats.

Food Allergies: Cat food contains certain ingredients, like beef, dairy, and grains, all of which are known to provoke allergic reactions. Dermatological signs such as skin redness and staring fur can occur simultaneously with gastrointestinal symptoms.

Cow’s Milk: Milk is not needed for cats. Many are allergic to the lactose in cow’s milk, so if your cat has recurring diarrhoea, cutting out the milk may resolve the problem.

Some Environmental Items: New paint or a new carpet cleaning treatment can provoke soiling as an allergic reaction. Other, perhaps surprising, culprits can be flea collars, medicines, cleaning products, or perfume.

Stings from Insects: Cats play and chase with bees and wasps and inevitably end up getting stung. Local swelling is common as the insects carry poison, but sometimes more severe allergic reactions ensue. Symptoms include blotchy swellings, salivation, panting, rapid breathing, vomiting, lethargy, and even collapse.

Cigarette Smoke: Recent studies indicate the risk of ‘third-hand smoke,’ when residual tobacco chemicals stick to all sorts of surfaces over time. Typically, this might happen on soft furnishings, including clothes, furniture, and carpets, as well as on hard surfaces like walls and car interiors. Cat’s fur accumulates these harmful agents, with cats ingesting the toxic particles when they groom themselves.

Routine Vaccinations: Routine cat vaccinations expose its immune system to antibodies, which then builds up immunity should the condition occur in the future. Minor allergic reactions to the vaccine may occur with the following symptoms: fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, sneezing, and itching. It is also common to see soreness and swelling around the vaccine area or red eyes, redness over the lips, and soreness in the neck. Most of these symptoms go away in a few days. Luckily, severe allergies to vaccines are rare but may include problems in breathing, diarrhoea, vomiting, seizures, collapse, and even death. All such severe allergic reactions will occur within one hour of administration and should be treated as a veterinary emergency.

Allergy Symptoms in Cats

Recognizing the signs of allergies is crucial for a rapid intervention and effective control. The symptoms will often vary according to the nature of the allergy and the individual cat, and commonly include:

  • Bald Spots, Itching, and Scratching: Excessive licking and endlessly chewing the skin, can produce alopecia and bald patches on the face, ears, and paws.
  • Skin Irritation: Inflammation, skin lesions, and redness around the chin, eyes, ears, and mouth.
  • Sneezing, Coughing, Wheezing, and Watery Eyes
  • Snoring: This is often due to throat irritation.
  • Swollen, Sensitive Paws: Caused by excessive scratching.
  • Gastrointestinal Problems: Vomiting and diarrhoea are triggered by food allergies.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

If you suspect that your cat has allergies, it’s essential to consult a vet for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. Your vet can pinpoint the cause by using various tests, such as skin allergy testing, blood tests, and elimination diets.

Treatment options for cat allergies depend on the severity of the allergy and typically focus on controlling the symptoms and reducing exposure to allergens. Management of the condition may include:

Medications: Antihistamines, corticosteroids, and immune-modulating drugs to reduce itching and inflammation.

External Treatments: Shampoos, lotions, ear drops, and eye drops containing soothing ingredients to provide relief for cats with skin conditions.

Flea Prevention: Regular flea prevention is essential to protect your cat from flea infestations and allergic reactions.

Treating the Home Environment: Regular vacuuming and dusting to keep your home clean and free of dust, mould, and other potential allergens. Air purifiers are recommended to remove dust and pollen from the air.

Food Dishes: Should be glass, metal, or ceramic. Plastic dishes have been known to cause itching and scratching around the mouth.

Switch Cat Litter: To chemical-free and low-dust brands. Some cats are sensitive to chemicals and scents found in many cat litter brands.

Lifestyle Changes: Keep your cat indoors when the pollen count is high. Avoid smoking in the cat’s environment and consider using hypoallergenic cat bedding.

Dietary Management: Special prescription diets eliminate common food allergens and your vet can recommend a suitable hypoallergenic or limited-ingredient diet.

Immunotherapy: In cases of severe or persistent allergies, your vet may recommend allergen-specific immunotherapy (allergy shots) to desensitize your cat’s immune system to recurring allergens.

Cat allergies can be frustrating and worrying for us, and very distressing for our cats. With proper understanding and proactive management, it’s possible to alleviate symptoms and successfully control allergies to improve our cats’ quality of life.

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