The 4 Most Common Cat Skin Allergies

Cat skin allergies are skin conditions that cause discomfort to the pet, due to allergens that aren’t accepted by the body. This results in hypersensitivity and symptoms of redness and inflammation on various parts of the body.

The 4 Most Common Skin Allergies:

  • Food Allergy
  • Contact Allergy
  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis
  • Atopy

Food Allergy

Cats develop food allergies when the body doesn’t accept certain ingredients present in the food. The allergic reaction generally occurs after the cat has ingested it for a prolonged period of time. The most common ingredient that cats are allergic to is a form of protein found in beef and seafood. Cats suffering from food allergy exhibit symptoms such as excessive scratching, biting the skin and might also experience hair loss. The symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea may not necessarily indicate food allergies. The vet will use a diet elimination plan to determine the type of food source that the pet is allergic to. This generally involves incorporation of a new protein source to the pet’s diet. The protein source should be any other type of meat that the cat has never eaten before.

Contact Dermatitis

Although cat fur acts as a shield towards environmental allergens, contact dermatitis occurs when the body reacts upon contact with surfaces or substances. Contact dermatitis could be either irritant dermatitis or allergic dermatitis. Various substances used in the household such as soaps, disinfectants or chemicals act as allergens and cause irritant dermatitis. Allergic dermatitis occurs when the cat comes in contact with materials or plants and exhibits symptoms after several hours. The symptoms of allergic dermatitis include itching around the ears, under the stomach and around the anus. Cats may also suffer from skin lesions or blisters. The vet will perform a patch test or a skin biopsy to determine the nature of the allergy and rule out underlying conditions.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Flea saliva causes excessive itchiness in pets. Fleas are also carriers of several bacterial and parasite infections. Cats tend to scratch the skin soon after a flea bite. This causes redness and irritation, which in turn leads to secondary infection. Pets suffering from flea allergy dermatitis exhibit symptoms such as itching or biting the skin, lesions, skin inflammation and oozing sores. The vet will prescribe corticosteroid medication to prevent itching and self-induced inflammation. The main aim of treatment is to eliminate flea infestations and prevent re-infection.


Atopy is also defined as an inhaled allergy. This occurs when cats inhale allergens present in the air and develop skin conditions. Atopy can be seasonal, and disappear soon after the season changes. It can also occur due to dust, pollution, pollen and cigarette smoke. The vet will perform a skin scraping test and also test the cat for dermatophytosis. Some pets develop atopy that cannot be exclusively treated with medication. It’s therefore important for pet owners to determine the source of allergens and keep allergic cats away from them.

Cats can also suffer from skin allergies due to hormonal changes, ear infections and allergies acquired through genetics. Since skin conditions cause discomfort and pain, it’s important to diagnose and treat allergies early.