Managing Cat Skin Allergies With Antihistamines

Cat skin allergies are a common problem for cats. If your cat is allergic to something in her environment, she will most likely exhibit her discomfort through her skin. Constant itching, twitching, excessive grooming, self biting and chewing can be some of the visible signs of her distress.

Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

Most cats with allergies will be reacting to something that occurs or is present in their daily routine. These triggers may be:

  • Local vegetation or grass
  • Pollen
  • Food (especially fish, beef or chicken)
  • Mold/dust
  • Flea saliva
  • Feathers
  • Materials such as wool, plastic or rubber

You should keep an eye out for the following symptoms, so as to have a timely indication of your pet's allergy:

  • Persistent itching, licking, biting or scratching
  • Inflamed spots
  • Crusts, bumps or scabs
  • Blisters in mouth cavity or body

You can help your cat to a large extent by reducing many of these triggers from her immediate vicinity:

  • Keep your cat in a separate room when dusting or vacuuming. Wait for the dust to settle before letting her out.
  • Wash your cat's bedding regularly, dry it completely and line it with plastic before use.
  • Reduce or avoid house plants.
  • During pollen season keep your cat indoors.
  • Give a vigorous medicated rub to your cat after she has been out.

Treatment for Cat Skin Diseases from Allergies

You may note that your cat has an allergic reaction only during certain months or seasons. This sort of allergy can be suppressed with injections or tablets, or topical treatments such as creams, ointments, medicated baths and rinses. Fleas are a common source of itching and allergies for your cat. Flea saliva can be particularly irritating. A cat bath with shampoos containing Selenium sulphide or Benzyl peroxide are soothing and effective in controlling fleas and infections. Use tepid water and soaps with minimal chemical content for baths.

If you find your cat prone to allergic conditions, it is a good idea to try an OTC antihistamine such as Chlorpheniramine, Clemastine, Cyproheptadine or Dipenhydramine first. They block the release of histamines, which are the real culprits behind the itching and discomfort your cat is enduring. Some antihistamines are available as shampoos. Antihistamines have a calming effect and can be helpful to your cat. Antihistamines in combination with topical medicines and small doses of corticosteroids such as prednisolone and prednisone can control your cat's stubborn allergy problems effectively.

Side Effects

As with all medication, your cat may suffer some side effects from the use of antihistamines. These are not always present, but knowledge of these will help you take care of your cat better.

  • Drowsiness
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight gain


  • Be aware that incorrect dosage can lead to serious consequences.
  • Always check with your veterinarian before administering an OTC antihistamine. It is important to ensure that the medicine is specific to your particular cat and her exact symptoms.