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Common Allergies in Cats

Atopic Dermatitis (Inhalant Allergy) continued...

Atopic dermatitis is difficult to distinguish from other allergic skin disorders, such as those caused by insect bites, food hypersensitivity, and chemical contact. Diagnosis is best made by intradermal skin testing.

Treatment: Best results are obtained when the allergen can be identified and eliminated from the cat’s environment. However, that is often not possible. Pollens, molds, and dusts can blow in through open windows and affect even indoor cats. Antihistamines or corticosteroids are beneficial in relieving symptoms but do not cure the problem. Allergy shots to hyposensitize the cat have been effective in some cases. Omega-3 fatty acids may also contribute to the cat’s comfort and relieve some symptoms.

Immune-Related Skin Problems

The pemphigus complex represents the most common autoimmune skin conditions in cats. This is a group of skin diseases involving inappropriate immunological attack against one of the normal layers of the skin. Different types of pemphigus involve different areas of the skin.

Pemphigus foliaceus is the most common form seen in cats. The feet and the head are affected first, with the appearance of pustules that progress to crusts. The nose often loses its pigment. The cat may itch and, if the feet are involved, she may be lame. Cats with a severe case may have a fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. A biopsy is the ideal way to make a diagnosis. Treatment involves the use of corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs, and, in some cases, gold injections.

Pemphigus erythematosus is a milder form and may be related to sun exposure. Signs are usually limited to the face and ears. Topical steroids may control this condition.

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WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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