Cat scratching from allergies

Our cats may seem invincible (or at least they want us to think so), but they can often suffer from the nuisance of allergies. Allergies in cats are more common than you may think.

It is essential to understand which allergies can affect your cat so you can be on the lookout and keep them happy and healthy.

What Are Cats Allergic To?

Several types of allergies affect cats, including flea, food, skin, and airborne allergies, with flea allergies being the most common. 

Environment airborne allergies include pollen, mold, spores, and dust mites.

Skin Allergies in Cats

But when it comes to allergies, first think Fleas, Fleas, Fleas! We know that flea bites can cause your cat to itch and scratch, but if your cat is allergic to those bites, your cat experience even further discomfort. 

Flea allergic dermatitis is the most common type of skin allergy in cats. Flea allergic cats will excessively lick or scratch at bites and this in turn can lead to skin infections. You may see bald spots developing in these infected areas. 

Keeping up with your cat’s monthly flea treatment year-round is essential to preventing fleas from terrorizing your pet. This is important even if you have an indoor cat. Fleas can and do come into the home! It’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian to ensure your cat is on the best possible flea prevention plan for his or her particular needs. Sometimes current plans need to be switched out for a new one that may prove more effective. Your vet will know just what to do.

Food Allergies in Cats

Food allergies can be a little hard to pin down. Sometimes, your vet will recommend an elimination diet to check whether your pet is allergic to any food ingredient commonly used in pet food. To do the elimination diet, your pet will need to switch to hypoallergenic food – and eat only that. 

If your cat stops itching after two months on a hypoallergenic diet trial, your vet may recommend “challenging” the pet with the old food to see if the itching returns. By doing this they can be reasonably certain it was the food that caused the itchiness. 

However, if your cat’s symptoms persist, your vet might rule out a food allergy and will instead conduct other tests to find the cause of your cat’s allergic reactions. 

Environmental Cat Allergies

Another common type of allergy in pets is atopy, also called allergic inhaled dermatitis. With this type of allergy, your cat might inhale something they are allergic to and instead of developing respiratory symptoms as humans do, they develop a skin irritation. Note that some cats may also develop asthma or chronic bronchitis.

Inhaled allergens are a year-round problem in central NC, where we rarely get relief from pollen.Though pollen tends to be more pervasive in spring and fall, some pollens are present in the winter and summer, too. Additionally, allergens such as dust mites and mold spores thrive in winter. Therefore, it is essential to continue to monitor your cat for symptoms throughout the year and to rule out fleas first by having your cat on year-round prevention. 

If you begin to notice respiratory symptoms in your cat, it’s important to have them seen by a vet quickly to get them feeling better and to prevent symptoms from worsening.

Signs of Allergies in Cats

If your cat is grooming more than usual, they are likely suffering from allergy symptoms. Other common allergy signs and symptoms in cats include:

  • Constant itching and scratching when you know you cat doesn’t have fleas or ticks because he or she is on year-round prevention
  • Sneezing, reverse sneezing, wheezing, or coughing
  • Red, itchy and watery eyes with or without discharge
  • Chewing, licking, or rubbing certain parts of the body constantly (especially the feet, face, ears, and sides)
  • Secondary allergy signs can include crusts, scabs, pimples, and moist areas. Yeast often appears in skin damaged by constant chewing, licking, and scratching.                                  

Diagnosing Allergies in Cats

Diagnosing an allergy can be difficult and time-consuming, so you should bring your cat to the vet at the first sign of discomfort. Waiting too long can cause the symptoms to worsen and the allergy to spread, potentially leading to infections and other complications. Testing for allergies may involve several steps, including skin scrapes and cultures to see what allergies cause a reaction in your cat. 

Jotting down your cat’s activities and typical environmental encounters is a great reference point for your vet visits. 

Most Common Cat Allergies

Remember, flea allergies are the most common allergy experienced by cats, and your vet will want to rule this type of allergy out first before considering elimination diets and conducting other tests for environmental allergies and skin allergies (which may be worsened by flea allergies).

The best thing you can do to care for your cat when you notice them scratching or experiencing other allergy symptoms is to schedule an appointment with a vet. The veterinarians at Harmony Animal Hospital in Apex, NC are very experienced in cat allergies, and we always treat you and your feline friend like family. To schedule an appointment visit or call 919-303-3456.