Is your Orland Park, IL, cat suddenly scratching his face, shaking his head, sneezing, coughing, or vomiting, and you have no idea why? The culprit could be allergies.
Cats have allergies just like humans do. They can have seasonal, food-based, or environment-based allergies. Sometimes, cats are allergic to something as simple as fleas. But as any human who’s suffered from allergies knows, allergies are no fun.
The good news is, there are many, many things you can do as a pet parent to help your cat with their allergies, so that they feel like they don’t have them at all, and our animal hospital can help!
Signs of Allergies in Cats
The most common symptoms of allergies in cats are:
- Itchy skin
- Coughing or wheezing
- Itchy or runny eyes
- Ear infections
- Gas and bloating
- Swollen paws
- Paw chewing
- Hair loss
Allergies can start at any age. Your cat can “grow into” an allergy, just like you can.
What Type of Allergy Does My Orland Park, IL, Cat Have?
Cat allergies generally fall into four categories: environmental, food, seasonal, and fleas. Environmental allergies are actually much more common than food allergies, because there are more factors that can cause them.
Here’s what you need to know about the four types of allergies.
What Causes Environmental Allergies?
Just like human environmental allergies, the list of potential environmental allergy triggers for your cat is long. Common causes of environmental allergies are:
- Mold and Mildew
- Flea control products
- Cleaning Products
- Certain Types of Fabrics
- Certain Types of Rubber or Plastic Material
How to Treat an Environmental Allergy
Your veterinarian treats environmental allergies in cats practically every day, and the first thing they will do is run some tests to isolate what exactly has gotten under your cat’s skin. If your vet does a blood test, they’ll send it to a lab for analysis.
If they do a skin test, they’ll inject potential allergens under your cat’s skin. The allergen that’s affecting your cat will produce a hive.
Then, they will prescribe medications to ease your cat’s symptoms. These include anti-itch topical creams or oral medications. Sometimes, allergy relief medication like the kind used in humans will help. Please note: Do not give Claritin or the like to your cat unless your vet says you can! Natural supplements and home remedies can also be very useful.
Next, you need to remove the environmental allergen from your cat’s environment. Did you just buy a new cat bed? If it’s the material in the cat bed that’s causing the allergy, you may have to give it away.
For omnipresent allergy triggers, like grass, medication is the primary treatment.
If your cat has asthma, they may be more prone to allergies. Your vet will prescribe specialized medicines, like corticosteroids, for your cat.
What Causes Food Allergies?
Foods that cats are typically allergic to are:
Because cat food contains many of these ingredients, it can be difficult to isolate which of these foods is your cat’s allergy trigger. But your vet has a variety of tests and ways to identify your cat’s specific allergen, and to treat it.
How to Treat a Food Allergy
Once your vet knows what your cat’s allergen is, they’ll prescribe a diet that eliminates it but still provides good nutrition for your furry friend. They may also prescribe medications to relieve your cat’s symptoms while your cat adjusts to the new diet.
It can take a month of treatment and avoiding the food trigger for you and your vet to truly tell, so this is a time to be patient.
Your cat may not have a full-fledged allergy to one or more of these foods; instead, they might have a milder version that vets call a food sensitivity. Food sensitivities also cause discomfort for your cat, and generally, you’ll follow the same course of treatment for them.
What Causes Seasonal Allergies, and How Are They Treated?
Seasonal allergies in cats are just like seasonal allergies in humans. Pollen is one of the most common. The treatment is just like that for an environmental allergy: removal of the trigger, and medication to ease symptoms.
Because seasonal allergies really can’t be removed from your cat’s environment, medication is the main way your vet will help your cat feel better.
Medicated baths can also help relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies, especially dry, itchy skin. You can give your cat these a few times a week, or however often your vet advises.
How Flea Allergies Are Treated
Flea bites nearly always provoke an allergic reaction in cats. Not only will the bites themselves itch, but the saliva from the flea bite will spread through the body and affect other areas.
Your vet will either prescribe flea preventative or change the flea preventative you’ve previously used for your cat. They’ll also prescribe some topical treatments to ease the itching from the flea bites.
The most common medications used by vets to treat all types of allergies are cortisone pills or creams, antihistamines, lotions or ointments, and eye and ear drops.
There are things you can do in your home to reduce allergen exposure, whatever the type, for your cat.
Clean Their Bed
Washing your cat’s bed regularly will help with any dander or other environmental allergens.
Use Dust-Free Litter
After covering up their business, the dust their paws make can create an allergen.
Clean Your Home
Keeping your home clean and regularly dusting will help keep your space clear of dust and pollen.
Using ceramic bowls and dishes for food and water helps with any potential allergens your cat may have with plastic.
Bathing your cat regularly can help keep their allergy symptoms under control and prevent flare-ups.
If your cat has a pollen allergy, there are pollen counters and calendars you can use to know when to expect the worst. Who knows? If you have “human” allergies, taking these steps will not only help your cat, but help you, too!
When in Doubt, Let Our Orland Park, IL, Vets Figure It Out
With allergies, it’s all about knowing your cat’s triggers, eliminating them, and adding medicine for symptoms. Taking your cat to the vet for allergy testing and treatment is one of the best ways you can take care of your cat. Our animal hospital in Orland Park, IL, can help! To schedule your cat’s exam, give us a call at (708) 478-7788 or stop in during our business hours.