Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms in Cats

Although dust mite allergy symptoms differ between cats and people, both are affected by these tiny pests. We'll look at the signs of dust mite allergy in your cat so you'll be alert to her symptoms and be able to start relieving her discomfort promptly.

Meet the Dust Mite

The first step in solving your cat's dust mite allergy may be to get better acquainted with the cause of the problem: the dust mite. These tiny creatures, which are related to spiders, survive by eating dead skin cells that the human and pet residents of your home shed constantly. Dust mites absorb water from their environment, rather than having to drink it as other types of animals do.

Mites live in all rooms of the average home, but they are found in the highest concentration in the bedroom. They likely congregate there because we spend so much time in the bedroom ourselves. Some of the mites' favorite hiding places include mattresses, pillows, bedding, stuffed toys, wall-to-wall carpeting and upholstery.

A warm, humid environment (one in which the temperature is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the relative humidity is above 75 percent) is more conducive to dust mite growth than a cooler, drier environment. Keep these temperature and humidity parameters in mind when setting up your dust mite control program.

Unlike furry or feathered creatures, which usually cause allergic reactions from their fur or dander, dust mites cause an allergic reaction with their waste. A protein in their excrement is the cause of most dust mite allergies, although the decomposing remains of dead mites have also been implicated as an allergy cause.

What a Feline Dust Allergy Looks Like

Despite the fact that feline dust allergies are caused by your cat inhaling something she's allergic to, the symptoms of her allergy will first show themselves as a skin problem. These types of allergies are classified as atopic allergies, and they are one of the most common allergies to affect cats.

Indications that your cat may have a dust allergy include incessant scratching and licking, which may or may not lead to skin irritation, hair loss, red lesions (linear granulomas) or crusty patches of skin (miliary dermatitis). Your cat may also develop hot spots, or she may show symptoms of asthma, such as coughing, gagging, hunching over or swallowing difficulties.

When a Feline Dust Allergy Occurs

Unfortunately, feline dust allergies are a year-round problem for many affected cats since dust is with us all year long in our homes. Dust allergies and other atopic allergies can develop at any point in a cat's life, but most affected cats will begin to show symptoms when they are between 1 and 3 years old.

How to Help Your Cat Feel Better

A combination of medication and changes in your home cleaning routine might make your cat's dust allergy symptoms less problematic. She may benefit from medications prescribed by your veterinarian, such as antihistamines, medicated shampoos, allergy shots or even steroids.

You may find it beneficial to vacuum more often, to add a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to your home's climate control system or to install a HEPA air cleaner in the room in which your cat spends most of her time. In extreme cases, you may need to consider removing carpeting and upholstered furniture in favor of vinyl or wooden flooring and leather furnishings.