Have you noticed your cat sneezing? Have you ever wondered if they might have allergies? Whether you have or not read our Moline, IL, animal hospital‘s article to learn about cat allergies.
Can Cats Have Allergies in Moline, IL?
Cats, like humans and dogs, can be allergic to a number of things. Cat allergies manifest when a cat’s body becomes sensitive to something in its environment.
What Kinds of Things Can Cats Be Allergic To?
Cats can be allergic to something they eat, something they touch, or something they eat:
- Insect Allergies
- Food Allergies
- Environmental Allergies
In the sections below, you can learn more about each of these types of allergies.
Insect allergies can include many types of biting insects. The most common form of an insect allergy is to fleas. Flea allergies are different from general irritation from a flea bite. A cat with a flea allergy is reacting to the proteins or antigens in the flea’s saliva.
Most cats will scratch and itch at flea bites. A cat with a flea allergy will have a much more severe reaction. They may develop a rash, swelling in the area, and they may scratch their skin so hard they may damage it and cause hair loss.
Your cat may develop sores or scabs. These can become infected leading to a skin infection.
Food allergies in cats can be to a food or food additive. The most common food allergy in cats is to the proteins in cat food. However, cats can also be allergic to the vegetables, grains, and other additives in their food.
Symptoms of food allergies can range from mild to severe. They typically exhibit as problems with the digestive tract, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
There are two kinds of environmental allergies. There are the year-round allergies and the seasonal allergies.
Year-round allergies include:
- Smoking (smoke)
Seasonal allergies include:
Symptoms & Signs of Allergies in Cats
The symptoms of allergies in cats are very similar to those in dogs and humans. Allergic reactions include behaviors and physical conditions.
- Itchy eyes
- Runny eyes
- Ear infections
- Trouble breathing
- Swollen paws
- Sensitive paws
- Excessive licking or grooming
- Red skin
- Dry skin
- Excessive scratching
Diagnosing Cat Allergies in Moline, IL
To diagnose a cat allergy, vets have a number of options. For insect and environmental allergies vets can conduct blood or skin tests, similar to the one they do for humans. The vet will apply a little bit of an allergen and then prick the skin.
A blood test requires drawing blood, and then your vet will send it to a lab for analysis. The skin prick test is faster since your vet can do it in the clinic. However, blood tests are more accurate since they can pick up on even the mildest allergies.
For food allergies, unfortunately, there are no tests. The only way to determine a food allergy in a cat is to do an elimination test. Your vet may start with the previously mentioned tests (blood and skin) in order to rule out other allergens.
Treatment for Cat Allergies
Treatment for different allergies does depend on the type of allergy. Your cat may have more than one allergy, and you may need to combine treatments to treat all allergies.
The key to preventing allergic reactions to insects is to keep your cat away from them. Keeping your cat indoors is one step that will help. You will also need to use flea prevention techniques. Flea and tick medication plus environmental flea prevention (such as keeping fabrics and furniture clean) are key.
If your cat is suffering from a flea bite, you will likely need corticosteroids. This medication will block the allergic reaction. This is necessary in order to stop your cat from scratching so their skin can heal.
If your cat has developed a skin infection from scratching, you will need a vet to prescribe an antibiotic treatment.
Treatment for food allergies starts with diagnosing the food allergy. There are two paths you can take: you can have your vet run tests, and you can give your cat an elimination diet.
An elimination diet consists of eliminating all possible allergens and then adding them back in one at a time. If your cat reacts, then you know they are allergic to the food you just added back in.
The other path is to assume your cat is allergic to all proteins. If you take this path, you will need to start feeding your cat a hypoallergenic diet. This means feeding your cat food with different ingredients than they had in their previous food.
It is key that in both cases you must avoid feeding your cat treats or human food that they could be allergic to.
You may wish to simply switch your cat’s diet to one where you feed them cat food with hydrolyzed protein. This protein has been broken down so small that the immune system isn’t triggered.
There are medications, both in pill form and injections, that you can get for your cat to deal with environmental and seasonal allergies.
Some other ways to help your cat is to:
- Keep rooms clean (free of dust)
- Run an air purifier (to remove dust and pollen from the air)
- Keep sheets (and other fabrics) clean
Your vet may also prescribe a spray or shampoo to help sooth your cat’s itchy skin. If your cat suffers from atopic dermatitis caused by allergies, then a consistent fish oil supplement will help them. However, fish oil is not a fast-acting option and will take time to take effect. This is why it is important that fish oil be a part of your cat’s daily diet.
Our Moline, IL Veterinarians Are Here to Provide Your Cat with Allergy Relief
Reach out to our Moline, IL, veterinarians if you think your cat may have an allergy. Try to take notes about when and where they seem to be most affected. These notes can help your vet determine the cause of the allergy.