Itchy & Scratchy? A Look at Common Allergies in Cats | Cat Care of Vinings

Itchy & Scratchy? A Look at Common Allergies in Cats | Cat Care of Vinings

Imagine having an itch that just won’t go away. No matter what you do, you can’t figure out how to soothe yourself. And the worst part? You’ve scratched at the itch so much you’ve actually broken the skin and are now suffering an infection. 

The idea of an itch that won’t go away seems unbearable, and yet it’s surprisingly common in our feline friends who suffer from allergies. Allergies in cats are no fun to deal with (especially if you’re a cat!), but when they’re quickly recognized and treated, they can be successfully managed.

What’s Going On?

Allergens, or foreign substances/particles, have the potential to trigger an immune response in the body, also known as an allergic reaction. Allergies in cats can be caused by various triggers. Their immune system overreacts to the allergens by producing and releasing chemicals that result in the symptoms visible to the naked eye. 

What Can We See?

Allergies in cats typically manifest on their skin. Owners will observe non-stop scratching, self-grooming, rubbing against furniture or carpet, and head shaking. 

3 Common Categories

Allergies in cats can be separated into 3 categories: environmental, food, and flea. It is possible for one cat to be affected by all 3 categories simultaneously, or just one at a time. 

In the Air, All Around

Environmental allergies can include anything inhaled, such as grass, pollen, perfume, mold, cleaning products, smoke, fungi, dust, and more. It can be difficult to rule out items in your cat’s environment that cause allergic reactions, but it’s critical to making Kitty feel more comfortable.

Not Hungry

Food allergies can also be hard to pinpoint. Skin problems are the most common sign of food allergies in cats, but some felines will show GI distress like diarrhea and vomiting in response to food triggers. Common protein sources like beef, lamb, chicken, turkey and eggs should be eliminated and then reintroduced. Carbohydrates, such as corn, soy, and wheat may require substitutes.

Bad Bugs

The saliva left behind by flea bites can cause severe allergic reactions in many cats. While we recommend year round parasite prevention to reduce the chances of flea allergies in cats, it’s not uncommon for indoor-only cats to go unprotected. 

Symptoms of Allergies in Cats

Since most reactions center on the skin, you’ll likely notice excessive scratching, hair loss, chewing at paws or parts of the body, red, flaky skin, and possible swelling. Secondary skin infections are likely to occur. Rarely, severe reactions can include respiratory distress and anaphylaxis. Please seek emergency veterinary help.

Connecting the Dots

A physical exam and diagnostic testing are crucial to understanding allergies in cats. We may try an elimination diet if their food is suspected. Controlling their exposure to environmental triggers can also go a long way toward easing their pain and discomfort. Prescription medications can help soothe symptoms, but some allergies in cats cause lifelong health challenges. 

Asthmatic cats commonly experience allergies and rely on medication to help them breathe. 

A Comforting Thought

Allergies in cats aren’t fun by any measure, but they can be treated. Sure, they’re demanding and time-consuming, but every cat is worth it!

As always, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns. Our staff  is always here for you and your cat!

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