Seasonal Allergies in Cats
As the weather steadily improves and temperatures begin rising, our feline companions begin to experience changes to their senses and hormones as changes in the air prepare them for enjoying Spring.
Spring also brings with it unfortunately seasonal allergies like hay fever that cause teary eyes, sneezing and sometimes breathing difficulties for you but did you know your cat could also develop hay fever, asthma and seasonal allergies just like humans can?
4 Main Allergies Common in Cats
There are 4 common allergies in cats: environmental, fleas, food and seasonal.
Environmental: Substances that can cause environmental allergies to include pollen, grass, fungi, mould and also dust. Your fur baby may also have allergies to things like cigarette smoke, perfume and some cleaning products so you may want to consider this too.
Flea Allergy: when fleas bite your cat, it causes an allergic reaction that can be painful and very irritating for your cat bringing about sores and scabs on their poor skin. The saliva from the flea can affect the cat’s entire body, not just where they were bitten so the right flea prevention solution is essential, especially in early spring.
Food Allergy: some cats, unfortunately, have allergies to certain foods. This can cause skin itchiness, hives, vomiting and diarrhoea. Your vet can help you find out which foods are irritating your cat with a few simple tests and create an appropriate diet that would serve them better.
Atopic dermatitis: When cats experience allergies, they can develop a skin condition called atopic dermatitis which produces skin sores, scabbing, hair loss and redness.
The immune system can sometimes misidentify non-harmful molecules like pollen, thinking they are a threat to the body so it will release histamine and trigger a defensive response to it known as an allergic reaction.
Symptoms of Allergies
With flowers, blooms and trees budding, airborne environmental allergens including pollen, mould and dust mites can affect cats’ health too.
While your cat will not likely have a runny nose, itchy eyes and watery sinuses like you would, you would likely see signs of allergies on the skin or coat.
Remember, the longer your fur baby is exposed to the allergen, the worse the reaction will be.
You may notice your cat is scratching or licking themselves excessively or maybe even biting on their skin. They may have open sores, lesions, scabbing, hair loss or redness on their chin, paws, anus or mouth. There are some cases where your cat will be sneezing, head shaking, may have a runny nose and possibly be coughing. Snoring, sensitive or swollen paws, excessive grooming and even ear infections are all signs of common allergic reactions.
How to Help at Home
Ensure your cat has regular flea treatment, grooming and brushing.
As with treating your own allergies, there are supplements and medications available from your veterinarian that can overcome seasonal allergies for your cat and additionally there are precautions that can be taken at home that may help alleviate some of the irritants that can affect your cat and home.
Making sure your home is kept clean by regularly vacuuming and washing floors with non-toxic cleaners will help keep irritants to a minimum. Keep your windows shut to avoid allergy-causing molecules from entering the home.
While we know most cats do not like being bathed, this can actually help to wash all allergens out. Alternatively using a warm wet washcloth would suffice to wipe and remove surface irritants from your pets’ fur.
You could also add Omega-3 fatty acids and coconut oil to their diet to help improve their immune system.
Be observant of their eating habits and or if your cat is showing signs of discomfort or sickness after food.
With so many signs to look out for and so many concerns on your mind about your cat, you may find it comforting to take your cat to the vet for allergy testing.
Cat allergy testing is done either by a blood test or a skin test.
For the blood test, the vet will take a sample of your cat’s blood and send it to the lab for evaluation. For the skin test, small injections are given just under the skin to test for an allergic reaction.
While neither test is necessarily better than the other, sometimes the vet will perform both tests to determine what is causing the allergic reaction in order to prescribe the best solution.
Cat Allergy Medications
While there are a number of different medications available to treat cat allergies, some of the most commonly used are:
- Cortisone pills (for itchy skin)
- Lotions, ointments, ear drops or eye drops
- Flea prevention products
Cats with asthma are more likely to experience cat allergies. If your cat has asthma and allergies, your vet will likely prescribe a medication that will help open your cat’s airways temporarily. Long term treatments may include medications like corticosteroids.
In all seasons, please be vigilant of your cat’s behaviour. Remember they have no voice to tell us they are unwell and it is ultimately up to us to provide them with the love and care they need.
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