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Allergy Season for Fluffy: How to Recognize & Manage Seasonal Allergies in Cats

If you notice that your cat is itchy, scratchy, coughing or sneezing, they may have seasonal allergies. Here, our vets in Orange share the symptoms and causes of seasonal allergies in cats and how they can be managed.

What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies in cats?

If your cat has allergies, the symptoms that they experience can include:

  • Sneezing, coughing, and wheezing
  • Swollen, sensitive paws 
  • Ear infections
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Scratching
  • Snoring 
  • Excessive licking (grooming) 
  • Itchy, running eyes
  • Red or dry skin

If your cat shows any of the symptoms above, you should schedule an appointment with your vet to diagnose the cause of their reactions.

Are there different types of allergies in cats?

Four types of allergies are common in cats: environmental, fleas, food, and seasonal. Here, we discuss each of these common allergens in greater detail.

Environmental Allergies: Pollen, grass, fungi, mold, and dust can cause environmental allergies. Your cat may also be allergic to cigarette smoke, perfume, and cleaning products.

Flea Allergies: When a small external parasite known as a flea bites your cat, it causes an allergic reaction that can irritate. The saliva from a flea bite can affect a cat's entire body, not just where the cat was bitten. Your veterinarian can help you choose the right flea-prevention product to help protect your cat.

Food Allergies: Some cats may have allergies to certain foods. This can cause skin itchiness, vomiting, or diarrhea. Your veterinarian can help you determine which foods irritate your cat and create an appropriate diet. 

Atopic Dermatitis: When a cat experiences allergies, their body can often react to a skin condition called atopic dermatitis. With this condition, your cat may develop skin sores, scabbing, hair loss, and redness.

How can a vet diagnose seasonal allergies in cats?

If your cat exhibits itching, scratching, or wheezing, your vet will perform a comprehensive physical examination and review your cat's medical history. Additionally, they will advise conducting laboratory tests to confirm your cat's diagnosis.

Cat allergy testing can be carried out using a blood or skin test. In the case of a blood test, the vet will extract a blood sample from your cat and send it to a lab for analysis.

The vet administers small injections just beneath the cat's skin for the skin test. If your cat is allergic to a specific substance, they will develop a hive (itchy, red, raised bump) on the contact spot.

Can indoor cats have seasonal allergies?

Indoor cats can indeed develop allergies. Even if a cat primarily stays indoors, it can still encounter a range of allergens, including dust mites, mold, and pollen that may enter the home through clothing, shoes, or open windows.

Cats living indoors can also exhibit allergies to household items like food and cleaning products. Numerous cleaning products contain chemicals that can trigger respiratory problems and cat skin irritation.

How can cats be treated for seasonal allergies?

Veterinarians use a multifaceted approach to treat pet allergies. They address clinical signs like excessive itchiness and secondary bacterial or yeast skin or ear infections.

If your cat has seasonal allergies, the treatment options will depend on the allergen and the reaction it triggers:

  • Prescription shampoo (antibacterial or antifungal)
  • Prescription ear flushes
  • Anti-inflammatory topical medications
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Itch relief medication, such as Apoquel for dog allergies or Atopica for cats
  • Injectable monoclonal antibody therapy
  • Corticosteroid therapy

If your pet has mild seasonal allergies without a skin infection, over-the-counter antihistamines might be an option for allergy relief. Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Claritin are commonly used allergy medicines for pets. Always consult your vet before giving your cat any medication.

What can I do at home to help my cat's seasonal allergies?

There are home remedies that can help alleviate certain symptoms. Lifestyle changes that can make a difference include:

Home Improvements: Making your home as hypoallergenic as possible can help your cat with allergies. Consider installing an air cleaner with a HEPA filter and ensuring your fabric surfaces are cleaned often.

Soothing Baths: Your veterinarian may recommend bathing your cat with a pet shampoo containing oatmeal. (If your pet is on a flea medicine, check with your vet to ensure the topical flea or tick medication won't be washed away, reducing the effectiveness.

Dietary Supplements: Supplementing your pet's diet with fish oil can reduce flaky or itchy skin. Probiotics can also relieve cats from skin allergies by restoring balance to bacteria levels in their GI (gastrointestinal) tract.

Physical Blockers: A simple intervention for itchy pets is to have them wear some clothing to cover the itchy areas. This has been shown to reduce their need to scratch.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

Is your cat showing signs of allergies? Contact our Orange vets right away to book an appointment with our allergy specialist. We provide care for allergies in dogs and cats.

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If you are looking for a veterinarian in Orange contact us at Vet4HealthyPet Animal Hospital today, to schedule your cat or dog's first appointment! Our vets are passionate about what they do and always provide the best possible veterinary care.

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