Allergies are a common diagnosis in cats, often assumed to be the problem when they scratch excessively and experience hair loss, and are officially diagnosed by your veterinarian through an exam and allergy skin tests. Since allergies can make your cat extremely uncomfortable, a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is essential. At Central Boulevard Veterinary Hospital, we work hard to provide factually-correct information you can rely on, especially when it comes to something causing constant discomfort in your cat. We’ve taken some frequently asked questions about cat allergies and answered them here as thoroughly as possible.
If you’re looking for a highly trained veterinarian in Brentwood, CA, we’d love to see your cat to treat their allergies, so please call us at (925) 319-5883.
What are some common cat allergies?
The most common cat allergy is a flea allergy. Even if you have an indoor cat, they can still come into contact with fleas, especially if you have a dog. Food allergies are also common in cats, and environmental allergies can result from dust mites and pollen exposure. Environmental allergens that the cat inhales or comes into contact with can adversely affect their skin, resulting in feline atopic dermatitis. This leads to excessive scratching, sores, and inflammation and can be seasonal or nonseasonal, depending on your cat’s specific allergy.
How do cat allergy symptoms impact the health and wellbeing of my cat?
Allergies play a large part in the overall well-being of your cat. If your cat has asthma, they might not be able to breathe well if they develop an environmental allergy. Cat skin allergies can become very uncomfortable due to irritation. They might even experience gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea or vomiting.
What are some common cat allergy symptoms?
Several cat allergy symptoms may come and go with specific seasons if the allergy is environmental. Cat food allergy symptoms, however, are consistent regardless of the season.
Cat allergy symptoms include:
- Excessive scratching
- Hair loss
- Reddened and/or swollen skin
- Multiple small, crusty bumps on the skin
- Ear infections
Why is it important to avoid self-diagnosing allergies in my cat?
It's imperative to avoid self-diagnosing cat allergies because several other issues can mimic the signs of allergies. Your cat could have an underlying endocrine disorder or something else, and you may be delaying proper treatment with a potentially incorrect diagnosis. You should always confirm an allergy diagnosis with your veterinarian before treating them with that assumption in mind.
How will a veterinarian diagnose my cat's allergies?
Diagnosing allergies is a bit complicated, as there are no specific tests currently available to accurately identify them. Your veterinarian will go through a series of steps to help correctly identify the allergy that’s causing your cat’s discomfort.
Steps to diagnosing cat allergies include:
- Reviewing the cat’s medical history
- Examining their body and skin
- Performing a flea combing
- Looking at skin scrapings under a microscope
- Conducting fungal cultures and intradermal allergy tests
Intradermal allergy tests cannot diagnose allergies, but we use them to identify the allergen causing the reaction and determine the treatment protocol. We may recommend allergy shots and eliminating possible causes to discover the offending allergen. We also identify food allergies through elimination, with your veterinarian guiding you through a food elimination diet to ensure your cat is still receiving adequate nutrition while determining the allergy.
What types of cat allergy treatments can be used to relieve symptoms?
Several different treatments are available to alleviate cat allergies, including injectable antibiotics, steroids, and oral medication. The type of treatment plan depends on what kind of allergies your veterinarian identifies. This is why it's important to avoid self-diagnosing, so your veterinarian can act quickly with the appropriate treatment and alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms your cat is experiencing. If the allergy is food-related, simply removing the specific food from your cat’s diet once identified is all that is needed to relieve symptoms.
The American Veterinary Medical Association offers insight into itchy cats and the latest treatments available.
How effective are cat allergy treatments?
Cat allergy medicine is highly effective. Once we identify the allergy, the treatment path will effectively relieve that allergy. However, atopic dermatitis resulting from allergies is a life-long disease requiring management and regular check-ups with your veterinarian. Treatment involves avoiding the offending allergen as much as possible, controlling itching, improving coat hygiene, and prescribing immunotherapy to increase your cat’s tolerance to the environmental allergy.
If you have further questions about cat allergies, and you live in or near Brentwood, CA, we’d love to see your cat to help relieve allergies that are making them uncomfortable, so please don’t hesitate to call us at (925) 319-5883.