Can Cats Have Allergies?

You are probably familiar with the fact that humans may develop allergies to cats or other environmental substances or materials. However, you may ask yourself: can cats have allergies? Cats can in fact suffer from allergies. If your pet shows symptoms of allergies, you should visit the vet for testing and treatment.

Types of Cat Allergies

Cats can develop allergies to different types of substances and materials. There are several types of allergies that may be found in cats:

  • Food allergies (to common food ingredients such as beef, corn, eggs)
  • Inhalant allergies (to chemicals, dust, mold, pollen, smoke)
  • Contact allergies (to plastic, wool, synthetic materials, latex)
  • Drug allergies

These allergies occur in cats as a reaction of the immune system to the trigger factors. The symptoms may be similar in all types of allergies, but a thorough testing can reveal the culprit allergen.

Symptoms of Allergies

Cats with allergies will display a range of symptoms including:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchiness
  • Scratching, biting and licking the affected areas
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (mostly in food allergies)
  • Rashes
  • Scaly skin
  • Respiratory problems
  • Asthma attacks
  • Swelling of limbs or face
  • Red eyes
  • Watery discharge from the nose and the eyes
  • Irritability and behavior changes

The reactions may be mild or more severe, depending on the immune system of the cat. The body will produce histamines in excess and the symptoms will occur. Some symptoms are only seasonal, if the cat is allergic to pollens that are only present in the spring or autumn.

Allergy Testing

Unless you detect the allergen and you have noticed that your cat only displays symptoms when in contact with a certain substance, the vet will need to carry out some tests.

There are 3 types of allergy testing:

  • Intradermal testing: The suspected allergens are injected under the skin.
  • Blood testing: A blood sample is needed to find the antigens that are present when the cat is allergic to a substance.
  • Food trials: Used to identify the food ingredient the cat is allergic to, as the intradermal or blood testing won’t reveal any food allergies.

Allergy Treatment Options

Once the test results are clear and the culprit allergen has been detected, the vet will let you know about the treatment options. If the cat is allergic to food or has contact allergies, the ingredient or the material must be completely removed from his diet or environment.

Reducing the cat’s exposure to the allergen is the best way to control the allergies. Drugs are also available:

  • Antihistamines will reduce the amount of histamines secreted by the body
  • Corticosteroids are only recommended for short cures, due to the possible side effects that include kidney disease
  • Allergy shots are the most recommended and may treat the cat for good, by repeatedly exposing your pet to injections containing reduced amounts of the culprit allergen

Being a negative reaction of a weaker immune system, the allergies may also be controlled by administering immunity boosters.