When you mention cats and allergies, the first response is to think that your
cat is making your nose itch and your eyes water. What we don’t typically think of is the fact that cats,
like all animals, can have allergies of their own, some more irritating than others. If you’ve seen your
cat act a bit strangely, as if they may have an allergy of their own, this short guide may help you to
understand what’s up and how to treat it.
There are four major allergies that cats will commonly experience. They are food allergies, inhalant allergies,
contact allergies, and flea allergies. Of these four, it’s difficult to say which is most common, especially as
some cats refuse to eat food because they’re picky rather than because it is causing them to have a reaction,
but all of these are worth looking into.
Before we get into the four different types, I should mention what feline allergies usually look like. As with
humans, you can frequently catch your kitties itching or scratching their skin far more than usual, indicating
a rash or infection of some kind. Said itchy spot can sometimes cover a cat’s entire body, making it very
uncomfortable indeed. At times they’ll also have a runny nose or some sort of eye gunk, neither of which are
very enjoyable for anyone. With other allergies, most commonly the food-based kind, an upset stomach combined
with vomiting or diarrhea will be clear indicators, though once again those could be the result of many things
(food is always tricky). Finally, you might notice some respiratory complications, such as sneezing, coughing,
or wheezing, once more just like humans.
So then, let’s start with the food allergy. Some cats seem to be born with a
predisposition to have problems with certain types of food, though the symptoms of allergies may not occur
for years out. Most of the time it’s the protein component of the foods that causes the real problem. Cats
afflicted by food allergies can get itchy rashes, though more likely they’ll have digestive trouble. The
simplest way to eliminate this allergy is to replace the food with something the cat isn’t allergic to.
Easily the most commonly seen allergy is that of the inhalant variety, and it will typically require the most
work on your end since it is most easily cured with steroids given either via a shot or from an inhaler.
Felines can have airborne allergies to mold, dust, grass, pollen, and all sorts of things in between. These are
the ones that’ll present with the respiratory issues, as you’d expect.
Contact allergies are a bit more rare since it’s already more difficult for things to come in direct contact
with a cat’s skin due to the layer of fur, but still it’s possible to force a rash or other skin reaction if
contact with allergens occurs. A lot of times it’s caused by what the cat is sleeping on or the collar it’s
wearing, and like humans sometimes different laundry detergents can cause reactions. Here’s the simple solution
is to find the thing causing the allergy and remove it.
The last type of allergen is the flea, though not the whole pest itself. Rather, flea
saliva that comes in contact with the cat’s skin will cause severe itching and discomfort, leading to
excessive scratching and biting at the spot. You’ll see this a lot as cats are prone to getting fleas, same
as other animals. The best and most effective treatment is to kill all the fleas with a flea bath and then
apply a flea treatment like Frontline or some such medication. Hopefully the flea collar or medication or
bath itself won’t cause any further allergies.
So cats apparently can experience annoying allergies just as you or I. Some of us may take this a bit of good
news, almost like we’re able to stick it to our cats for causing us trouble at times, though of course we only
want them to be healthy. Look for the simplest solution and ask your vet what they would recommend to save your
cat the discomfort of an allergy.
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