Just like humans a common health problem in cats is allergy. It’s strange that we always worry that humans are allergic to cats, but so rarely do we hear about what cats are allergic to!
In this way, cats are not very different from humans. A foreign substance, commonly referred to as an allergen or antigen, triggers a situation in which the cat’s immune system becomes hyper-guided and produces symptoms of an allergic condition.
When a cat is allergic to something, the most common indications are itchy skin, coughing and / or sneezing in case of respiratory problems, vomiting or diarrhea in case of digestive allergy.
Allergies in cats seem to fall into these broad categories. Allergies to fleas, food, inhaled things or something they came into contact with.
Contact allergies generally cause a fairly localized reaction on the skin. The cat can scratch a lot and / or there may be an indication of irritation at the point of contact. The most common causes of contact allergies in cats would obviously be objects with which they come into close contact such as flea collars, blankets, toys, etc. The simplest cure is to remove the contact. Take off the collar or change the bed linen, for example. If irritation persists or if you still need effective flea control, consult your veterinarian.
Some cats may also experience allergic reactions to certain plastics and / or metals. If you suspect this in your cat, you may want to switch to a ceramic or glass bowl. Another problem that can mimic a contact allergy can occur if you simply don’t rinse your cat carefully and completely after bathing. Shampoo or residual soap on the skin can cause dermatitis which can be mistaken for an allergic reaction.
Fortunately, contact allergies in cats are the least common type.
Flea allergies, on the other hand, are very common in cats. Every normal cat commonly experiences flea bite irritation, but a cat with an authentic flea allergy will have a more severe itchy reaction to flea saliva. A normal cat can simply bite or scratch for a while and then move on to other things, but a cat with a flea allergy can scratch, chew and worry on the spot until he loses large amounts of fur. This constant attempt to relieve maddening itching or irritation can result in open sores that can add the risk of infection to the list of allergy aches. In most cats, the most common area to be affected will be on the back just before the tail. The cat can also create spots of sores or scabs on the neck and head.
The types of inhalation allergies (atopy) are even more common cat allergies than flea and contact allergies! In fact, this type of allergy is probably the most common allergic problem in cats. It is possible that your cat is allergic to the same allergens that you are! Tree pollen, grass pollen and weed pollen together with the rest of the objects that we humans fear; mold, mildew, dust mites and dust itself can trigger allergic reactions in both cats and humans who have trained to breed them.
A big difference between humans and cats, however, is that while humans most commonly react to inhaled allergens by sneezing or coughing, a cat will most commonly react by scratching an itch caused by those allergens. Unlike a contact allergy, the cat’s reaction to inhaled allergens will be a general itchy skin compared to a severe reaction at a specific point. If your cat seems to scratch a lot and doesn’t seem to be local, such as in reaction to a flea collar, chances are he is experiencing a reaction to an inhaled substance.
As in humans, real food allergies in cats can be extremely difficult to detect. One reason is that they commonly demonstrate many of the pain symptoms seen in other groups. Real food allergies in cats can cause itching and / or respiratory problems. In addition, true food allergies can cause digestive difficulties like other diseases or toxic substances. In cats, food allergies are usually not present from birth, but develop after long exposure to foods that have been consumed for long periods. Most food allergies will focus on the type of protein common in the cat’s diet, such as beef, pork, poultry or lamb. Simply eliminating that type of protein by switching to another type of food usually solves the problem.
There are two difficult points for the cat owner when they begin to detect signs that lead them to believe that their cat may have an allergy.
1. The cat can actually react to an irritant, rather than an allergen, e
2. Symptoms may be the result of some other condition, perhaps another more dangerous one.
For example, a flea infestation can cause itchy flea bites and the cat scratches itself. It’s normal. You would also scratch, and widely, if the fleas munched on you! However, if your cat is allergic to flea saliva, it will actually inflict harm on itself in an attempt to relieve intensified itching. However, the itching could be, as pointed out, the result of a food allergy, a contact allergy or some undiagnosed medical conditions such as a fungal infection (possibly caused by ringworm, for example), mange or some other type of skin infection that may have been caused by bacteria.
While a little clever investigative work by the pet owner can often alleviate the problem, only the vet will be able to say for sure what the cause and effect could actually be … and how best to handle the situation . However, the vet doesn’t live with your cat, so it’s important to note carefully what the symptoms are, when they started, how they progressed, what steps you’ve already taken, and what happened as a result of those steps. All of this information will help your vet get to the truth behind the apparent allergy in your cat. Your cat’s vet will also have diagnostic tools available to help you get the cause of your pet’s seemingly “allergic” reactions.