Testing a Cat for Allergies

Cats may be allergic to environmental or nutritional factors, as well as parasites. Testing a cat for allergies may be a lengthy process, but is necessary in order to find a proper treatment.

The testing may be performed at home or by the vet.

Signs of Allergies

The most common signs of allergies in cats include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Excessive scratching
  • Rashes
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Irritability
  • Excessive licking of the itchy skin

Detecting the allergens is significant in determining the proper treatment.

Skin Testing

Most allergic cats have itchy skin. By checking your cat’s skin you may determine the source of allergies.

If you notice scabs in the head and neck area, these may point to flea allergies. These scabs are known as millet lesions, and should disappear within a week after you start a flea treatment. If the lesions don’t disappear after a week of flea shampoo treatment, you need to look for different allergens that cause your cat’s negative reactions.

Acne or red spots in the head and chin area may point to allergies to plastic. If your cat has plastic bowls, switch to ceramic bowls.

Rashes or red skin may indicate that the cat has been in contact with an allergen such as chemicals or toxic plants.

If the entire skin is itchy, this is indicative of environmental or food allergies. The cat may be allergic to pollens, mold, dust or different types of food ingredients.

The vet may perform a skin sample test to find the allergen.

Change Litter and Bedding

The cat may be allergic to the bedding or the type of litter you use. Try changing the litter brand, as litter may contain chemicals the cat is allergic to.

If the itchiness and other symptoms don’t disappear in a week after changing the litter brand, you have to change the cat’s bedding. Make sure the bedding is 100% cotton or made of natural fibers. Cats may be allergic to synthetic fabrics.

Food Trials

If the cat is allergic to food, the exact ingredient that produces the allergy may be difficult to spot.

You need to eliminate one ingredient at a time for one week and observe your cat’s reactions.

If after a week, the cat’s allergy is still persistent, re-introduce the first eliminated ingredient and eliminate a different ingredient.

You may also switch to a natural, home-made diet, as cats may be allergic to additives or preservatives that are used in food processing. Always check with your vet before switching to a different diet; you need to include all the essential nutrients in your cat's diet.

The testing can be very long and time-consuming. Alternatively, you can take your cat to the vet and he will determine the allergen after a blood test.

Seasonal Allergies

If you notice that your cat has only seasonal allergies, monitor when the symptoms are present.

Seasonal and environmental allergies may be kept under control with antihistamines or allergy shots, while with other types of allergies, it is recommended to eliminate the allergens from the cat’s surroundings or diet.