What causes cat allergies?
Felines can develop three main types of allergies: environmental, food, and flea allergies. Substances that make up these allergen categories include:
- Organic substances such as pollen, grass, plants, mold, and mildew
- Life stage requirements
- Cat litters made with chemicals
- Fabric, rubber and plastic materials
- Fleas and flea-control products
Seasonal allergies caused by substances like pollen are usually easier to spot, as your cat will only be affected a few months out of the year. Year-round allergies can be a little trickier to pinpoint.
Common signs of cat allergies
If your feline has allergies she’ll probably exhibit one or more of these symptoms:
- Itchy skin
- Sneezing, coughing, wheezing
- Itchy and runny eyes
- Swollen paws
Itchy skin around your cat’s face and neck, combined with vomiting and/or diarrhea, are common food allergy symptoms. If your cat's back or tail is irritated, it could be a sign of flea issues.
Respiratory problems and snoring because of an inflamed throat
are typically caused by substances your feline inhales, such as smoke or perfume. No matter what symptoms your cat is displaying, see your veterinarian for a diagnosis and recommended treatment options.
The best way to reduce cat allergies is to remove offending allergens from your home. You can eliminate ingredients from your feline's diet to see if they caused her irritated skin. You can keep your cat indoors when seasonal allergies strike, and prevent fleas by using flea control medication.
It can take time to determine exactly what substance is causing your cat's allergies. Your veterinarian can run tests to narrow down the possible culprits, but if your cat’s allergies are food-related, you'll also have to monitor her reactions to certain ingredients to pinpoint which food is causing problems. Your veterinarian may also recommend a limited-ingredient diet or prescription diet indicated for cats with food allergies.
Maintaining a clean, dust-free home and regularly bathing your cat can also help reduce allergy symptoms. Ask your veterinarian about the best feline shampoos to use and how often your cat's skin should be washed in addition to her own self-grooming. Too much bathing can cause your furry friend's skin to dry out.
If your cat’s allergies are related to her litter, gradually shift to a natural litter.
With the help of your veterinarian, and patience on your part, the source of your feline’s allergies can be determined so you both find relief.