Cats can develop allergies just like humans do. Unfortunately, when, where and to what your cat will react is not something that can be predicted with certainty. When it comes to treatment, only a vet is competent enough to propose one.
There are no over-the-counter allergy medicines for cats, and you should never give her human drugs without consulting a specialist. Here’s what you should know to help with your cat’s condition.
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What Causes Allergies in Cats
When your cat’s immune system is compromised or overloaded, it reacts to some substances that it classifies as enemies. Here are the four most common ways your cat can have an allergic reaction.
Airborne allergens, such as pollen, dust, and mold, quickly cover large areas. Pollen can stick to your clothes, shoes, and hair and find its way into your home. It can also get in through an open window. Dust settles mostly on the ground and furniture which are inches away from your cat’s nose and mouth. Mold is a stubborn problem to deal with, but not taking care of it is dangerous to every living thing in the household.
Fleas are annoying, and they can trigger allergies in your cat. The flea’s saliva causes a skin rash which your furry friend will scratch, causing nasty sores. You need to regularly check your cat for fleas even if your pet only stays indoors. Flea eggs can attach to shoes and clothes especially if you live near livestock. Fleas and their eggs are quite small and hard to spot so you might need the help of a flea comb.
While grains, corn, and artificial ingredients are harmful to your cat, some types of meat usually cause allergies. The surest way to determine which element triggers reactions in your cat is to isolate them one by one. This process should be monitored by your vet and can take weeks if not months because it involves constant adjustment of your cat’s diet.
Without having protection between her skin and the surfaces that she touches, your cat is prone to getting into contact with allergens. The most common ones are plastic and rubber, some fabrics, and cleaning detergents. Many household cleaning agents are also toxic to cats, which is one more reason for you to consider what detergents you use. Here’s a post on cat-safe alternatives.
How to Identify Allergies in your Cat
No cat is immune to developing allergies, and they can be triggered at any time. Here’s what to look for:
Scratching is a common symptom of cat allergies – even food-related ones. Your cat might be scratching her paws if they’ve been in contact with an allergen, or she might be scratching her skin if an allergy has caused skin problems. Itchiness can also often appear in the eyes, the ears or on the tail. The constant scratching worsens the symptoms because it leads to even more irritation.
All types of allergies can manifest in skin problems. Even food-related allergies can lead to small, itchy skin lumps. Pollen can also get on your cat’s fur, making it itchy and causing destructive scratching. Other allergens such as perfumes and air fresheners can settle in your cat’s coat, damaging her skin and causing excessive scratching. To ease the itchiness, you can bathe your cat with an allergy-alleviating shampoo like Pro Pet Works Natural Oatmeal.
Respiratory symptoms of allergies are especially alarming. Allergic reactions can affect the nervous system and cause swollen tonsils, airways or lung damage. The respiratory allergic reactions can become even more severe in cats who suffer from asthma. If your cat is gasping for air or wheezing, it might be because of an allergy. This necessitates an urgent trip to the vet.
These are the organism’s ways of getting rid of irritants as fast as possible. They can occur as a result of various illnesses but vomiting and diarrhea can also come as allergic reactions to something. These symptoms usually occur as a result of food allergy, but they can also happen after an insect bite that has triggered an allergic reaction.
Apart from the already mentioned, you should be on the lookout for other symptoms as well. Get to the vet if you notice any strange and concerning behavior in your cat. “Unusual behavior” is an umbrella term for a myriad of signs, but swelling, excessive licking of a particular area, unusual quietness or aggression are good signs that something’s not right.
Prevention of Inhalation-related Allergies
Keeping your home clean is a good habit, especially if you have pets. But you need to be mindful of the detergents that you use. Your cat can easily get in contact with an allergen or a toxic cleaning agent especially if she licked their paws after stepping on the freshly cleaned floor.
To keep your cat safer, you can opt for Nature’s Miracle Hard Floor Cleaner which works for a variety of hard floors, helps with odors and is pet-safe.
Nature's Miracle Dual Action Hard Floor Stain & Odor Remover attacks pet stains from urine, feces, vomit, and grease on hardwoods, concrete, pet kennels, litter boxes, and any other solid surface.
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Concentrate is another option made with mostly organic ingredients. However, this one contains essential oils, so rinse the cleaned surfaces thoroughly to avoid having a cat with an upset stomach or worse.
Garden-fresh Lemon Verbena multi-surface concentrate has a light, refreshingly mild citrus fragrance.
To limit your cat’s exposure to pollen, use a lint-roller to clean your clothes during springtime and use mosquito nets if you keep any windows open that lack screens. Keep in mind, though, that leaving the windows open gives your cat a chance to jump out and injure or kill herself. As for dust, you know the drill – regular dusting and vacuuming will keep healthy not only your pet but also everyone else in your household. When it comes to mold, your best bet is to hire professionals to get rid of it. Out of the three allergens getting rid of the mold must be a priority. This stuff is dangerous to everybody.
HEPA filters are high-efficiency air purifiers. You can find them in air conditioners, vacuum cleaners and standalone air purifiers like the GermGuardian AC4825 and the LEVOIT LV-H132. These devices can help quite a bit with getting rid of allergens and purifying the air that you and your pet breathe. To help with the air quality, you should also regularly clean the filters in your AC and vacuum cleaner.
The UV-C light helps reduce airborne bacteria, viruses and mold spores, and it works with titanium dioxide to reduce volatile organic compounds.
If your cat is allergic to cigarette smoke or has asthma, there’s nothing you can do about cigarette smoke other than not smoke inside your home. You shouldn’t do it even if your cat is healthy. “Second-hand” smoking is dangerous to any living thing in your home and especially so for kids and pets. And, no, turning on the kitchen exhaust hood won’t help.
Perfumes and air fresheners can trigger allergies in your cat and can be even toxic to her. Your pal has a much stronger sense of smell than you do, so if you can smell a scent, then your cat is drowning in it. Apply your perfume in a room that’s off-limits to your cat and if you need to get rid of smells opt for these natural air purifying bags instead of using an air freshener.
Prevention of Touch-related Allergies
Your cat is in contact with his food and water bowls several times a day. If they are made of plastic, your pal might have an allergic reaction. To be on the safe side consider bowls made from stainless steel. A good option is this set of elevated bowls. The bamboo stand makes it easier for your cat to reach her food without bending. You can also opt for this made-in-the USA set – it is free of BPA, cadmium, mercury, and lead. Plus, it is easy on your cat’s whiskers.
Veterinarians recommend stainless steel, because of its hygienic and sanitary qualities, over plastic or ceramic bowls.
Other objects that are heavy on plastic are toys. Fortunately, there are plenty of toys that are made from organic, allergy-free materials. Like this cotton banana filled with catnip. You can also go for an apple, lemon or a rainbow. The added catnip will keep your cat’s interest in the toy, while the cotton fabric should provide for an allergy-free play.
Each toy contains 100% organic catnip that is grown without use of pesticides and is stuffed to the max using only the leaves and flower tops for a premium blend with a strong aroma that will last for age.
If your cat is allergic to any carpets or rugs in your home, you need to find which material is causing the allergy. Plastics such as nylon and polyester are allergens and might be the culprit. In this case, it’s time to opt for carpets/rugs made from high-quality cotton. Alternatively, if you have allergenic carpets in only one room you can to try to keep your cat from going in there.
If your cat is one of the rare ones who like to sleep in their bed, you need to beware of what bed you buy. Low-quality synthetic fabrics can cause allergic reactions and irritation. When looking for a cat bed made from natural materials the widely available options are made from merino wool – like this Handcrafted Cat Cave Bed. Note that natural fabrics can also cause allergies, though such cases are rare.
Merino wool is not only ultra-soft and flexible, it’s also naturally antibacterial so it repels odor, dirt and stains to help keep your four-legged friend and his hide-away fresh and clean.
Cat litter is among the more common allergens to both people and cats. Especially faulty are the scented and dusty ones. Cat litter such as bentonite brings up quite a lot of fine particles (even the “dust-free” ones) which settle in yours and your cat’s lungs. ökocat Natural Wood Cat Litter is made from natural materials and is free of chemicals and dust – a good choice for people and cats with allergies. It also comes in a variant for long-haired breeds and a “super soft” option.
There are many reasons for a cat being sensitive to their litter, but I've found the most common fix is getting a good hypoallergenic litter brand like this one from okocat.
Prevention of Ingestion-related Allergies
When it comes to food-related allergies, you can’t resolve the issue on your own. Instead, your vet will suggest a feeding plan that will gradually eliminate all possible allergens from your cat’s diet. This might take several months, depending on how many ingredients make up your cat’s meals. Surprisingly, the most common food allergens for cats are chicken and veal, so if this is the case with your cat, your vet might suggest a formula made from more rare meats such as venison, duck, rabbit or even kangaroo.
Ingestion-related allergies can also come from drugs. If your cat is on any medication and is showing signs of an allergic reaction, the drill is the same – trip to the vet ASAP. Do not try to adjust the drug dosage on your own in an attempt to prevent an allergic reaction. Also, do not under any circumstances give your cat human anti-allergy medications unless your vet has given you instructions about it.
Prevention of Flea-related Allergies
Note that these two medications are prescription-only, though due to their preventative nature, there shouldn’t be a problem for your vet to give you a prescription.
Revolution is a multi-purpose medicine. It acts on internal and external parasites such as fleas, ear mites and several types of worms. The active ingredient selamectin kills not only the parasites but also their eggs. Revolution is also good as a preventative treatment. It is not to be used in cats under eight weeks old or sick or underweight ones.
The Advantage Multi is also indicated for the prevention and treatment of ear mites, fleas, and some internal parasites. The active ingredients in this drug are imidacloprid which kills external parasites, and moxidectin which works on the inside. It should only be used in cats over nine weeks of age and over 2 lbs.
Food, airborne allergens, fabrics – they all can trigger allergic reactions in your cat. As those of you who also suffer from allergies know, living with such a condition is a pain, but there is plenty of things to do to minimize the symptoms. Sadly, when it comes to treatment, it is a long and tiresome process, without guaranteed success. If your cat is undergoing such a procedure, now you know what to do to help further with her recovery.