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Does My Cat Have Allergies
Cats Can Have Allergies
Just like you and I can have allergies, so can your cat, and just like with people, allergens will affect different cats different and some cats not at all. There are different allergens that can affect domestic cats, but typically you'll find that cats have four main types of allergies- contact, fleas, food, and inhalants.
- Contact: Allergens that the cat comes into contact with such as bedding, collars, and other household items.
- Fleas: Even just one flea bite can cause severe itching, chewing, and other reactions for up to 2-3 weeks.
- Food: Common food allergies can include eggs, wheat, corn, chicken, milk, and beef; you may notice respiratory problems and digestive problems, as well severe itching.
- Inhalants: Essentially anything that can be inhaled through the nasal pathways, such as dust, mildew, mold, or pollen.
But within each of the main categories, you'll find that there are many different allergens that can be included. Below, you'll find the allergens below are probably the more common allergens that can cause your cat to have an allergic reaction.
- Cigarette smoke
- Cleaning products
- Fleas and flea prevention products
- Rubber and plastic materials
- Trees, grass, weed, mold, mildew, and dust pollens
Deferent allergens will affect all cats different, which is why it is important that you pay close attention to your cat, so that you can quickly spot any difference in your cats normal behaviors and have him diagnosed.
Signs of Allergies
As the cat's body is trying to rid itself of the allergens, your cat will experience a number of different symptoms that will vary with each cat. The common signs of allergies will generally include the more than one of the following symptoms.
- Itchy skin with increased scratching
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Itchy back or base of tail
- Itchy ears and ear infections
- Paw chewing and/or swollen paws
- Sneezing, coughing, wheezing
If you notice that your cat is experienced the above symptoms for a prolonged period (which will vary with each cat), you want to have your veterinarian diagnose him as soon as you can, so that you can eliminate any further discomfort that he may be experiencing.
Diagnosing an Allergy
If you think that your cat may have an allergy, you should consult your veterinarian so that he can test your cat for allergies.
Typically, if your cat is experiencing itchy and irritated skin, a veterinarian may look for fleas or other parasites first. If that is not the cause of the allergy, a veterinary dermatologist can perform an intradermal skin test to determine the cause of the allergy. Blood tests can be performed, as well, but they are not reliable for a full diagnosis.
For food allergies, you'll find that typically this is going to be the last allergen that most vets will think of. The only real diagnosis for a food allergy is going to be changing your cat's diet for a 12 week period to see if the allergic reaction varies. Most vets will recommend a prescription diet or a hydrolyzed protein diet. After the 12 week period, you can reintroduce other foods to see which food ingredient is causing the reaction.
If you cat does have a food allergy, you may find that homemade diets work better to balance out your cat's diet and avoid any reactions.
Treating a Cat with Allergies
Once you have determined the cause of your cat's allergy, you want to treat it. The treatment will vary depending on what allergen is affecting your cat.
- For fleas, you want to start your cat on a a flea prevention before the height of the season. It's a good idea to keep your cat on flea prevention year round.
- You want to switch to a dust-free, unscented cat litter.
- Clean your cat's bed at least once a week. You should also vaccuum at least once or twice a week so that you can reduce the amount of dust in the home- include rugs, carpets, and other materials.
- Use a veterinarian recommended shampoo to help relieve itching. Oatmeal and aloe vera shampoo can help relieve the itching, but it is only temporarily. Some people recommend bathing a cat twice a week, but that can potentially dry out his skin, so consult your veterinarian.
- If you think it's a food allergy, consult your vet about a prescription diet or a hydrolized protein diet.
There are homeopathic remedies that you may want to consider as well. These are alternatives to conventional medications and prescription approaches. Many have found that horsetail helps promote healthy skin, as does dandelion, which contains Vitamin A, D, C, various B Vitamins, iron, lecithin, silicon, potassium, magnesium, zinc and manganese.
Medications for Allergies
If your cat is allergic to an allergen that cannot be removed from the enivronment, such as pollen and various materials, your vet may recommend a medication to help relieve the symptoms of the allergy. Remember that you should never give your cat medicines without consulting with your veterinarian first.
Cortisone or steroids may be prescribed for airborne pollens.
Fatty acid supplements to relieve itching
Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a veterinarian.