Allergies in Cats: Symptoms and Triggers
How Can Cat Allergies Be Treated?
The best way to treat allergies is to remove the offending allergens from the environment.
- Prevention is the best treatment for fleas. Start a flea control program for all of your pets before the season starts. One outdoor pet can not only be exposed, but can carry fleas inside to indoor pets. See your veterinarian for advice about the best flea control products for both your cat and the environment.
- Use a dust-free, unscented litter. Your cat might have an allergy to the chemicals in scented litter.
- If dust is causing your cat’s allergic symptoms, clean your pet's bedding once a week and vacuum a minimum of twice weekly-this includes rugs, curtains and any other materials that gather dust.
- Bathing your cat one or two times per week regularly may help relieve itching and remove environmental allergens and pollens from her skin; talk to your veterinarian for a shampoo recommendation, as frequent bathing can also dry out skin.
- If you suspect your cat has a food allergy, she’ll need to be put on a prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet. Once she’s diagnosed, your vet will recommend specific foods or a home-cooked diet.
Are There Allergy Medications for Cats?
Since certain substances that cause allergic symptoms cannot be removed from the environment, your vet may recommend the following medications:
- In the case of airborne pollens, your vet may prescribe cortisone or steroids to help control the allergy, but the best way to manage airborne allergies is with allergy injections, which treat the allergy itself instead of just masking the itch.
- Antihistamines such as Benadryl can be used, but they work best preventatively, before your cat is exposed to the allergen.
- Fatty acid supplements might help relieve your cat’s itchy skin. There are many shampoos that may help prevent skin infection, which occurs commonly in cats with allergies. Sprays containing oatmeal, aloe and other natural products are also available.
- There are several flea-prevention products that can be applied monthly to your cat’s skin.
Note: Do not give your cat medications unless prescribed by a veterinarian.
Are Allergies and Asthma Related?
Sensitivity to environmental pollutants, pollen and stress can cause asthma attacks in cats. For short-term relief, your veterinarian may prescribe medications that will open up breathing passages. For long-term treatment, though, corticosteroids may be used. And please remember, no cat should be exposed to cigarette smoke-but if your cat has asthma, cigarette smoke is an absolute no-no.