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