When Your Cat Has Allergies

We all know that some people have allergies to cats but what do you do when your cat is the one with allergies?

What Causes Allergies?

Cats can react to a number of different environmental triggers. These are categorized into four areas: food, flea bite, airborne and contact allergies. Food allergies can come on at any time in a cat’s life. Symptoms include itchiness around the head and neck or gastrointestinal troubles like vomiting and diarrhea. Flea bite can be caused by just one bite and will last for weeks. Airborne allergies, like pollen and perfumes, can cause itchy skin, ear infections or respiratory symptoms. Contact allergies, like ones to cleaners or wool carpets, will generally affect only the area that has been exposed to the allergen.


How Do I Know if My Cat Has Allergies?

There are a variety of symptoms that would suggest that a cat has allergies. These include:

  • Sneezing, coughing (if the cat has asthma), wheezing
  • Itchy skin/increased scratching
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Itchy back or base of tail (most commonly seen in flea allergies)
  • Itchy ears and ear infections
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
  • Paw chewing/swollen paws

What Should I Do If I Think My Cat Has Allergies?

If you suspect your cat may have allergies, visit your veterinarian. She will take a complete history and conduct a physical exam and may then determine whether your cat has an allergy and, if so, what type of allergy it may be. Your veterinarian may need to conduct a skin or blood test or an elimination diet to determine the exact cause of the allergy.

How Do I Help My Cat?

First, when and where possible, remove the irritant. Prevention is the best treatment for fleas. A dust-free, scent-free litter may control some symptoms, as will cleaning your pet’s bedding once a week. Bathing your cat once or twice a week will help remove some of the airborne allergens. Check with your veterinarian for the best shampoo for your cat’s skin. If you suspect your cat has a food allergy, she’ll need to be put on a prescription diet. Once she’s diagnosed, your vet will recommend specific foods or a home-cooked diet. Finally, your veterinarian may suggest medications for your cat. Remember: do not give your cat any drugs your veterinarian has not prescribed.

Life with an allergic cat can require a little more time, but most of the issues can be resolved to leave your pet happy, healthy and allergy-free.

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