Choosing the Best Cat Allergy Medication

Choosing the best cat allergy medication depends a great deal on what type of allergy you're trying to treat. Sometimes a topical medication is needed to resolve skin problems, while in other cases, an antihistamine can help clear up a variety of symptoms. Here's a closer look at some of the most commonly prescribed types of feline allergy medications, so you'll be ready to have an informed discussion with your veterinarian.

Antihistamines Treat Many Symptoms

Antihistamines help reduce many allergy symptoms for cats. They have helped control allergy symptoms in about 70 percent of allergic cats. Antihistamines lower the amount of histamine in an allergic cat's system, which reduces symptoms such as itching, wheezing, sneezing or inflammation.

Some of the antihistamines that have shown good results for cats include chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), clemastine (Tavist), diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and hydroxyzine (Atarax). The drawbacks of using antihistamines to treat feline allergies are the potential side effects, which can include appetite loss, diarrhea, drowsiness, or dry mouth. For many cat owners, however, these relatively minor side effects are overshadowed by the relief the pet receives after taking the cat allergy medication. 

Topical Treatments Can Relieve Itching, Kill Fleas

Topical products can provide soothing relief for your cat's itchy skin, and they can include sprays, creams, shampoos and rinses. Many of these products contain hydrocortisone, which is well known for relieving itchiness. Other products contain oatmeal, which has been recognized for its skin-soothing properties since the days of the Egyptian pharaohs.

Another type of topical product that may be useful in your cat's allergy treatment are the flea-killing products that are applied monthly to the back of the cat's neck. These prescription products can play an important part in alleviating your cat's flea allergy symptoms, especially when used in conjunction with an overall plan to treat your home with insecticides to further eradicate the fleas.

Biotin and Fatty Acids Provide Natural Healing

In addition to cat allergy medication, owners can help heal their pet's irritated skin by adding biotin and fatty acids to their daily diet. Biotin is a B vitamin that can be sprinkled over a cat's food in a powdered form.

Fatty acids, such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, can offer long term control of your cat's allergic skin symptoms. In most cases, cats will need to take the fatty acid supplements for several weeks before any skin improvement is noted, and the supplements will need to be offered continually after the cat's skin clears up.

Steroids for Severe Allergy Symptoms

In cases of severe feline allergy, your veterinarian may prescribe a short course of steroids, which can have a useful role to play in feline allergy treatment. The steroids used for cat allergy medication are corticosteroids, not the infamous anabolic steroids of sports scandals. Corticosteroids can help relieve severe inflammation or itching when used correctly.

During your cat's steroid treatments, be on the lookout for potential side effects, which can include depression, diarrhea, frequent urination, higher water consumption, hyperactivity and weight gain. Discuss any side effects with your veterinarian to ensure your cat's long-term health after the steroid treatment has concluded.