Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Cats

Flea allergy dermatitis happens to be the most common allergy in cats. Dermatitis simply means the inflammation of skin. The allergic reaction is caused by the saliva of the flea. In a sense, cats are allergic to flea bites.

Symptoms of Flea Allergy Dermatitis

The usual characteristics of flea allergy dermatitis are:

  • biting at the base of tail
  • scratching frequently
  • loss or thinning of hair above the base of the tail
  • fleas and/or feces from the fleas are visible
  • miliary dermatitis - itchiness, and small, crusty bumps

Flea allergy dermatitis is considered to be a seasonal allergy, reaching its peak in the summer and fall. Cats who are more severely affected by the allergy will bite and scratch all over, making it so that they will have hair loss that is spread all over, and not just around the base of the tail.

It is important to remember that some cats are hypersensitive to flea bites, and fleas may not be extremely visible. This is because it only takes one flea bite to cause an allergic reaction.

Diagnosing Flea Allergies in Cats

Flea allergy dermatitis can usually be diagnosed by the visible symptoms. If it cannot be identified by the visual symptoms, intradermal skin testing may be necessary. Intradermal skin testing is where a cat is first sedated, then an area on his side is shaved down to the skin. A series of injections will then be administered to the cat. The injections will be of various possible irritants. After a while, the cat will be inspected to see whether or not any of the injections caused an allergic reaction. Then it will be certain whether or not fleas are what is causing the allergic reaction. However, occasionally cats who are allergic to fleas don't show a positive intradermal test.

Treatment for Flea Allergy Dermatitis

To treat the dermatitis, the root of the problem must be eliminated. There are a number of topical and oral medications available that are designed to kill the adult fleas, and larvae. Along with disposing of the fleas that are infesting your cat, the fleas infesting your house and places that your cat frequents is just as important. There are products also available for clearing furniture, and carpet and such of fleas. Vacuuming, and proper disposable of the items used to clean are also helpful. It is also important to inspect other pets that are in the home to see if they have been affected by the flea infestation.

It is also very possible that your cat may develop a secondary skin infection from all the itching and biting. This will include topical or oral medications consisting of antibiotics. Antihistamines can be prescribed to control inflammation and itching.

Flea Control

The best way to prevent your cat from getting flea allergy dermatitis is to keep up strict flea control. This is especially important if your cat is going outside frequently.