Cat Allergies and What to Do About Them

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Cats can and do develop allergies, just as we do. And their reactions can be as varied as ours. Some allergies cause a rash or other cat urinary issue. Others could trigger a respiratory response such as sneezing or runny nose. It is up to us as owners to work out what has caused the allergic reaction in our cat, and what to do about it.

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What Is An Allergy

Most allergies are caused by a distorted or inappropriate response in the cat’s immune system. The immune system considers a substance, such as pollen or a kitten food product, to be dangerous. This triggers the allergic response such as sneezing, to rid the body of the substance.

The immune system keeps our cat’s body safe from infectious micro-organisms found almost everywhere. These can be bacteria, fungi, chemicals or even a virus. When the immune system finds these ‘invaders’, it responds by releasing various chemicals into the blood stream to ‘fight’ them. It is these chemicals that are responsible for the symptoms of the allergy, this case proved by poodle in malaysia.

Types of Allergies

The most common allergies cats have are to insects, food, inhalants or contact with a product.

Fleas or other insects

Many cats are allergic to fleas or flea saliva. The immune system overreacts and causes a severe itchiness to occur, especially around the base of the tail and thighs. The cat will scratch at the area which causes the skin to become inflamed even further, creating a cycle that increases the irritation. Insect allergies can also cause hair loss, vomiting and/or diarrhoea, runny eyes and nose or even ear infections. It is necessary to rid the cat and the environment of the fleas or insects completely. Some topical creams can be prescribed by your vet to soothe the inflamed skin. If the reaction has been severe and the skin lesions have become infected, an antibiotic cream and/or course of antibiotics may be prescribed. Antihistamines may also be given to reduce the itchiness.

Food allergies

Symptoms of food allergies include vomiting and/or diarrhoea, itching (without insects being present) and hair loss. If you suspect your cat has a food allergy, it will be necessary to put it on an elimination diet. This means changing to a completely new food that your cat has not eaten before. This could be something such as rabbit, duck or turkey. Many cats have an allergy to dairy products so eliminating milk from the diet is also essential. Once the symptoms have settled, you will be able to reintroduce the old foods one at a time, taking a few days for each new reintroduction to make sure there is no flare-up. Cats can sometimes develop an allergy to an additive in tinned or packet foods. Starting them on a homemade diet without additives could clear up the problem.

Inhalant allergies

These can be caused by dust mites, moulds, cleaning chemicals used in the home or pollens. The symptoms are usually runny nose and eyes, severe itching, especially around the head and including the ears, scabby lesions on the skin or hair loss. It may be necessary for your vet to take skin scrapings or a biopsy to test for the particular allergen. It will then be necessary for you to make sure your home is free from whatever your cat is reacting to.

Contact allergies

Sometimes your cat will have a reaction to some shampoos, detergents, chemicals used for cleaning the home, grasses and plants or even topical medications, although this is much rarer. Your cat will scratch at itchy skin which can then cause rashes to become inflamed. Again, it will probably be necessary for your vet to take skin scrapings or a biopsy as well as undertaking a physical examination. Again, treatment will be to make sure your cat doesn’t come into contact with what is causing the problem.

No-one enjoys having an allergy to a particular substance and cats are no different. Unfortunately cat allergies can and do occur and it is up to us to find out what is causing the problem, then helping our cat get through the symptoms as best we can. We then need to make their environment safe for them to prevent their allergies returning.