Understanding Cat Flea Allergy Dermatitis

A cat flea allergy is a common affliction of cats, and causes dermatitis, or cat skin allergies, as a result of flea bites. Flea saliva contains over 15 antigens that cause allergic responses in your pet. Though dermatitis only causes itchiness, it can predispose your pet to developing secondary, more dangerous, bacterial skin infections, or pyoderma, as a result of open wounds.

Symptoms of Cat Flea Allergy

If your cat has been affected by a flea allergy, she will bite at the top of her tail, and scratch herself often for hours. The biting at the tail will cause hair loss as a result of excessive grooming. The most telling symptom is the presence of fleas or their feces on your pet, but this is less obvious in cats that are bathed regularly, or in cats that groom themselves often, as this will disperse any evidence.

If your cat has a particularly bad case of allergies, she will itch her whole body, lose hair in places other than the tail, and her skin will become red and swollen. The redness is from papules, which are small red skin lesions. When your cat licks at these wounds, she may develop lick granulomas, which are oozing lesions.

Only your vet can diagnose cat flea allergy dermatitis, as the symptoms of the disease are similar to those of mite infestations, ear infections, sacroptic mange, skin trauma or food allergy. Some of these diseases or infections can damage your cat's health, so bring your pet in at the first sign of infestation.

Diagnosing Source of Cat Flea Allergy

Flea allergies are classified as feline seasonal allergies, due to the peak diagnoses in summer and fall. Your vet can test for flea allergy dermatitis through two primary tests. First, your vet will find physical evidence of flea infestation. Then, your vet will perform an intradermal skin test, which has a high success rate, and can be used within a more broad intradermal skin test.

Treating Feline Seasonal Allergies or Other Source

Protecting your flea from bites is the first step, and often the only step, towards preventing allergic reactions to fleas. Treating your cat's fur and the environment is your best bet for alleviation of your cat's allergies. Though hyposensitization treatments are available, they are not effective.

In order to treat your cat, use both an adulticide and an insect growth regulator. The adulticide will kill the adult fleas, while the insect growth regulator will kill earlier forms of the flea, so they won't reproduce. Your vet can help you find a medication course that is serious enough for your cat's infestation.

In order to prevent further infestations, treat your house and other cats. Target areas that your cat frequents, like outside areas and your cat's sleeping area. You can use the same adulticides and insect growth regulators you used before, or a sodium polyborate powder. Cleaning your house and vacuuming will get rid of fleas in your house.