Feline Inhalant Allergies

Inhalant allergies are also known as atopy and this is a condition common in cats. Inhalant allergies may be seasonal, as the allergens are only present for certain periods of the year.

Inhalant Allergens

The most typical inhalant allergens are airborne particles that cause irritations in sensitive felines:

  • Pollens
  • Dander
  • Grass
  • Mold
  • Dust
  • Chemicals

If the allergen is identified, the cat's exposure to these must be reduced.

Symptoms of Atopy

A cat with atopy or inhalant allergy will display symptoms such as:

  • Wheezing
  • Skin irritations, especially around the eyes and mouth, ears, armpits, abdomen, legs and the rectal area
  • Itchy skin, which causes licking and scratching
  • Coughing
  • Hair loss, caused by licking and scratching
  • Military dermatitis in different zones of the body

These symptoms occur when the cat is in contact with the allergens. Some of the symptoms may be seasonal, according to the presence of the allergen.

Atopy may occur in mature cats after the age of 1 or 2. Typically, other types of allergies occur later, at the age of 2 or 3.

Diagnosing Atopy

Atopy may be diagnosed through blood or skin testing.

Skin testing is the most accurate analysis to determine inhalant allergens. Different types of allergens are injected subcutaneously and the skin is monitored for negative reactions. If the cat is allergic to the injected allergen, he should have a skin irritation 3 to 5 hours after the administration of the injection.

If you know what might cause the allergies, let your vet know and this will speed up the diagnosing process.

Blood testing will consist of tests to detect certain allergy induced antibodies in the blood.

Treating Inhalant Allergies

Inhalant allergies may be treated according to the causing allergen.

Prednisone and other steroids are efficient in reducing the typical symptoms of allergies. The first dosage of prednisone should be aggressive and once the symptoms are under control, the dosage can be decreased and the medication may be administrated every other day. However, prednisone and other steroids are hormones and will have side effects such as increased thirst and appetite, urinary incontinence, immune system suppression, lethargy and behavioral changes.

Alternatively, steroids may be replaced with antihistamines. These will eliminate the allergic reactions and are good as short-term medication. Antihistamines have fewer side effects than steroids. However, some of cats may not respond to anti-histamines and a lot of vets prescribe the anti-histamines in conjunction with steroid treatment.

However, the most efficient treatment for inhalant allergy is immunotherapy. If the vet determines the allergens, he may get a vaccine that contains these allergens and administrate regular shots that will build up the cat's immunity to those allergens. Hyposensitization will start to be effective after a few months of shots.

Fatty acid supplements are also recommended for cats with atopy, reducing the symptoms of allergies. Topical creams, shampoos or soaps will also work well to relieve the itchiness and skin irritations.