Does My Cat Have Allergies and What Can I Do About Them?

  • By:

    Dr. Sara Ochoa
    Dr. Sara Ochoa

    Author: Dr. Sara Ochoa

    Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa is a veterinarian with many years of experience and higher education. During her time in veterinary school she was able to learn form some of the most well-known veterinarians from all over the world. Sara lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies Ruby the schnoodle, and Bam-Bam her bunny. Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa has a passion and love for animals that makes her a wonderful asset to our team.

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  • Updated on: 12/28/2020

Is your cat itching and scratching? This may be a sign that your cat has allergies. Allergies are often seen starting in the spring and can even last into the fall months. Some cats can even have allergies year-round.

Allergies can be very frustrating for you and your cat, but there are some environmental changes that you can do to help your cat live with allergies.

my cat have allergies@user9995248 / Freepik

How do I know if my Cat has Allergies?

There are many common signs that you may see that would indicate that your cat has allergies. These are some of the most common:

  • sneezing
  • coughing especially if your cat has asthma
  • wheezing
  • itchy skin and scratching
  • itchy, runny eyes
  • itching on the back or base of the tail (this is most commonly seen with flea allergies)
  • itchy ears and ear infections
  • vomiting and diarrhea, which is often seen in cats who have food allergies
  • snoring (because your cat’s throat is inflamed)
  • chewing on their paws or swollen paws

If you notice any of these signs, it would be best to take your cat to the vet. They can help you decide if these signs that you are seeing is due to allergies or some other underlying issue. 

What are the most common Allergies in Cats?

Many things can trigger allergies in your cat; these are some common things that can cause your cat to have allergies:

1. Fleas

If your cat has fleas, they can be very allergic to these bugs. Most cats are allergic to the saliva of the fleas and not the fleas themselves. When a flea bites your cat, they will inject some saliva into your cat’s skin, causing them to itch and scratch. Most of the time you will see scabs and hair loss near the base of the tail or under your cat’s chin.

Some cats are even allergic to topical flea and tick medications. If you apply flea and tick medication to your cat and start to itch even more or lose hair in the area you applied these products, it would be best to use a pill to help control the fleas. If your cat is allergic to topical flea and tick medication, it is best to wash it off your cat’s skin as soon as you notice the reaction to it. This will help limit the spread of the reaction to other parts of your cat’s body.

2. Environmental Allergies

This includes anything that may be in their environments, such as pollen from trees, plants, or weeds. This can even be dust, mildew, and mold. Most of the time, you will notice that your cat is only showing signs of allergies during certain months. This will be when the plant that they are allergic to is producing pollen.

If your cat is tested for allergies, you may be able to pinpoint what types of plants that are causing your cat to have allergies. You can then remove these plants from your yard and help decrease your cat’s allergic reactions.

3. Food Allergies

While this is rare, some cats can be allergic to certain types of food. Most cat foods contain chicken or fish. These are two proteins that your cat could potentially be allergic too. If your cat does have a food allergy, you may notice diarrhea, itchy ears, and redness around their rectum. Usually, switching to a different protein food will help these symptoms. According to a guide on Petloverscentre it needs to help your cat achieve a balanced diet and choose appropriate foods.

what allergies are common in catsPhoto by Valentin Müller on Unsplash

Other things that your cat may be allergic to are:

  • Prescription drugs: Certain medications, especially thyroid medication, can cause your cat to itch
  • Perfumes
  • Cleaning products or laundry soap
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Fabrics
  • Rubber and plastic material

Trying to pinpoint the exact allergen causing these allergic reactions in your cat can be very difficult. Start with only changing one thing at a time until you figure out what is causing these issues.

Medical Reasons that My Cat Maybe Itching

Some medical conditions can cause your cat to be very itchy. If you are having a tough time figuring out the cause of your cat’s allergies, talk to your vet. Your vet can examine your cat, run bloodwork, and figure out if there are many medical issues that would cause your cat to have allergy signs. 

Your cat can have eye infections, skin infection, or autoimmune disease, which shows the same signs as a cat with allergies. Many times, before starting expensive allergy testing, it is a great idea to rule out any underlying medical issues. These can usually be easier and cheaper to treat than allergies.

How to Test My Cat for Allergies

If your cat has allergies, there are many different ways that you can test your car for allergies. This may be a trial process that your cat would go through, and there is even allergy testing that your vet can do for your cat.

1. Skin Testing

ust like with people, your vet can do skin allergy testing on your cat. They would inject small amounts of different substances into your cat’s skin to see how they react to it. This will help determine how allergic your cat is to different things that your cat could contact.

2. Allergy Blood Test

There is a blood test that can be run for environmental and food allergies. These tests may not be 100% accurate and can sometimes be very costly. This would be a very easy way to test your cat for different allergens. Depending on the results of these tests, you can then adjust your cat’s environment and food.

3. Food Trial

If you think that your cat is allergic to its food, the best thing to do would be a food trial. This is when you would switch to a different protein than what your cat is eating now or switch to a hydrolyzed protein diet. These food trials should be done for 6 to 8 weeks before deciding that the food is not helping.

READ MORE: How to Treat Cat Ear Infection

how to test cat for allergiesPhoto by NICOLA KAMEEL on Unsplash

What human foods are Cats Allergic to?

Common people foods that your cat may be allergic to are:

  • beef
  • fish
  • chicken
  • dairy products

Many cats are allergic to milk and should not drink milk. If your cat shows signs of food allergies, a common protein that most vets recommend is rabbit protein.

Preventing Allergies in Cats

Flea Prevention

If your cat is allergic to fleas, keeping your cat on flea prevention, year-round is best. Even in the cold winter months, you can still see fleas on your cat.

Dust-Free Litter

Some cats are allergic to dust and pollen. Ensure that the cat litter you are using is the dust-free or very little dust. This will help keep your cat’s nose free of all dust and irritations.

Hydrolyzed Protein diet

If your cat has food allergies, a hydrolyzed protein diet is the best. These diets contain proteins that have already been broken down into smaller molecules. This makes it easier for your cat to digest.

Keep Your Cat Inside

If your cat is allergic to things that are blooming outside, keep them inside as much as possible, especially during the high pollen times of the year. 

Give Your Cat a Bath

While this may not be tolerated by all cats. If your cat likes baths bathing them will help remove any allergens that are on their fur. Even wiping them down with a damp towel will help. 

Use a Different Laundry Detergent

If your cat is allergic to soaps, you can try using a different laundry detergent when washing their beds and blankets.

Frequently Dust Your House

This may be one task that you hate to do, but dusting a little more frequently can remove dust mites from your house. Dust is a very common thing for your cat to be allergic to.

Use an air purifier

This will help remove any pollen, dust, or allergens from the air in your house. This is even a great thing to have if you suffer from allergies.

READ MORE: Dustless Cat Litter Reviews

Can I Give My Cat Benadryl for Allergies?

can i give my cat benadryl for allergies@aleruana / FreePik

Yes, your cat can have Benadryl for their allergies. A typical adult cat is around 12 pounds. These cats would need ½ of a 25mg adult Benadryl tablet. There are also other allergy medications that your veterinarian can give you. Common medications used for allergies in cats are steroids or even Apoquel. Apoquel is a very common dog allergy medication that can be used in cats. If your cat’s allergies do not clear up with Benadryl, talk with your vet about other options.

Final Thoughts

Allergies in cats can be very frustrating for you to treat and your cat to have to deal with. By practicing some simple preventative measures, you can help control allergies in your cat. If these allergies start to cause significant problems or cannot get them under control, it would be best to see your vet. They can prescribe your cat allergy medications and antibiotics if their skin has an infection.

ThePets is an informational website that features articles written by qualified veterinarians and professional writers. You can learn more about our editorial process. When selecting food for your pet, use Pet Food Finder, and search for the clinic to treat your pet using Vet Clinics Locator.

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