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Alta Vista Veterinary Clinic

Allergies in Cats: Common Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Indoor ginger tabby cat scratching his ear
Like humans, cats can also suffer from allergies. However, if your cat has an allergy, then they cannot do anything about it without your help. Some allergies can make your cat miserable and may even be life-threatening. Therefore, it's important that you pinpoint the source and take action in order to keep your furry friend healthy and active.
This guide lists some signs that your cat may be suffering from allergies. This guide also discusses the most common allergies in cats and what you can do to make life better for your pet.

Signs That Your Cat Has Allergies

Cats exhibit several signs that they're suffering from an allergy, including the following symptoms.
Scratching and Licking
Reactions like scratching and licking often occur around the face, paws, or the base of the tail. In some cases, scabs can form at or near these locations. Cats may also scratch or lick certain areas completely bare.
Breathing Problems or Excessive Sneezing
Your cat may cough - or may have symptoms like nasal discharge - especially if the allergy is severe enough to cause asthma. This is a common reaction to airborne allergens that are breathed into the respiratory tract.
Vomiting and Gastrointestinal Issues
This symptom commonly occurs if the allergen is ingested, either in the cat's food or through a chemical on the fur like a topical flea control. Cats could have an allergic reaction to the chemicals or medications because they often lick off ointments and chemicals during their normal grooming routine.

Common Allergies in Cats

Though your cat could potentially be allergic to just about anything, here are the five of the most common allergens for cats.
Flea Allergies
While most cats are irritated by fleas, those with flea allergies may develop scaly, scabby skin. These cats will constantly scratch the irritated areas.
Food Allergies
Often, cats develop food allergies over time. You cat could even develop an allergy to foods that they've already eaten a lot of in the past with no problems.
Scent Allergies
Cats can develop allergies to perfumes and other scented items such as scented cat litter.
Pollen and Grass Allergies
You will likely notice pollen and grass allergy symptoms when the counts are high or during certain seasons. The symptoms may be less obvious during cold winters.
Chemical Allergies
Chemical allergies may include cleaning products, insecticides, and pest-control chemicals. The reactions may be most noticeable during or after you've cleaned the house or applied these substances around the home.

Treatment Options for Allergies

Fortunately, you can alleviate or minimize most allergies with some of the following treatments.
Avoidance is a common treatment with food allergy. Basically, you give your cat a specialized diet that has completely new ingredients and then add familiar items back into their diet after your cat has shown no symptoms. That way, you can pinpoint the exact allergens that are causing the problem. You may need to work with the veterinarian to create the best diet for your cat.
Like humans, cats may also be able to take antihistamines, including over-the-counter human ones. However, don't treat your cat with any medication without veterinarian advice. Most often, the dosage and frequency are much higher for humans than cats. Plus, some cats may react adversely to some human medications.
Vets often give cats steroids, such as prednisone, if the allergy is severe and if other treatments fail to work. Steroids do have some side effects and can also be costly. Though steroid tablets are common and often successful, some cats may require injections, which may be time-consuming and difficult to administer at home.
Allergies can make your cat miserable and lessen his or her quality of life. However, you and your veterinarian can help make your cat more comfortable. If you think your cat is suffering from allergies or any other type of health condition, then contact us at Alta Vista Veterinary Clinic for diagnosis and treatment.