Allergic Rhinitis in Cats

Allergic rhinitis is a reaction caused by an irritant. The symptoms are similar to those of a regular flu: nasal discharges, sneezing and watery eyes. Allergic rhinitis can be seasonal if the allergen is only present in the environment only a few months during the year. Allergic rhinitis is generally caused by inhalant allergens.

Allergic Rhinitis in Cats

Just like humans, cats can also have allergic reactions to various factors. Allergies are quite common in cats. There are several types of cat allergies:

  • Contact
  • Food
  • Flea
  • Inhalant

Inhalant allergies are most common and cause allergic rhinitis.Allergens are small proteins of various sources carried in the air and inhaled by the cat. They trigger inflammatory reactions resulting in swelling in the nose area and nasal secretions. Allergic rhinitis can cause serious discomfort to your cat and can worsen if left untreated.

Causes of Allergic Rhinitis

Cats can react to a series of inhalant allergens which also affect humans. Most common inhalant allergies are caused by:

  • Pollens (ash, oak, cedar)
  • Weed pollens (ragweed)
  • Grass pollens
  • Mildew
  • Dust
  • Molds
  • Chemicals (sprays, perfumes, cleaning products)

If pollens only cause seasonal allergies, house dust, mildew and molds can cause problems all year round. Cats may be allergic to one or more allergens.

Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis in Cats

Allergic rhinitis in cats manifests through:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Watery eyes
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Trouble breathing
  • General state of discomfort

Allergic rhinitis can have more severe manifestations if the cat is exposed to the allergen for a longer period of time.

Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis in Cats

The most important step in treating allergic rhinitis is finding the allergen and reducing or avoiding exposure to it. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the exact allergen or to identify all the irritants that cause allergic rhinitis in your cat. In some cases, total avoidance of the irritant is impossible. The treatment generally depends on the type of allergy. If your cat has seasonal allergies, the veterinarian could recommend steroids, which will reduce the inflammation and suppress the immune system that causes the allergic reactions. Although they might have side effects, steroids are safer in cats than in humans. Your veterinarian will decide whether it is appropriate to administer steroidal drugs to your cat. Steroids can be administered orally or in the form of injections.

Another treatment option involves the administration of desensitization injections. If the allergen is identified, your cat will get shots containing a particular allergen. In time, the cat’s immune system will get accustomed with the allergen and will no longer be allergic to it. Allergy shots cannot be administered along with steroids. It is also recommended to use a hypoallergenic shampoo. It helps wash out the allergens from the cat’s fur, so that the cat will not inhale these or these will not penetrate the skin causing other reactions. Hypoallergenic shampoos may also help with other allergic manifestations, such as itchy skin and dryness or flakiness.