Among the feline skin conditions that can cause cats to scratch, itch or bite at their skin, feline allergies are probably the most common cause. Allergies in cats aren’t the only things that will cause these kinds of reactions in the skin, but they are the most common cause. So if your kitty has been scratching a lot this is something you’ll want to look into.
What Causes Allergies In Cats?
Feline allergies are caused when a cat has a hypersensitive reaction to a particular allergen. When cat with this hypersensitivity comes in contact with, ingests or inhales this allergen its body produces a specific protein. This protein then attaches itself to mast cells located on the skin. When the protein attaches to these cells various chemicals like histamine are released, causing the itchy skin.
Cats can be allergic to a number of things. Allergens can include: flea bites, foods and food additives, mites, rubber, plastics, fabrics or detergents, weed pollen, grasses or trees to name a few.
Feline allergies aren’t typically an instant reaction; they are developed after the cat has spent some time exposed to the allergen, although allergies to insect bites can occur after only a few exposures.
Feline Allergy Symptoms
Allergies in cats usually show themselves through the skin. Some of the more common symptoms can include excessive scratching and biting of the skin, twitchy skin, hair loss or pulling out tufts of hair, and lesions on the skin.
Although feline allergies are generally reflected as skin problems your cat may experience other symptoms. A cat with a food allergy may show symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea. A cat with an allergy to something in the air may have respiratory symptoms like a runny nose or eye discharge.
Cats with allergies may groom themselves excessively and pull out their hair. Skin lesions can be caused by the cat’s consistent licking, scratching and biting. Their skin may also seem sensitive and be “twitchy”.
Diagnosing Feline Allergies
It’s always important to understand your cat’s normal behavior, then if you start to see changes to the normal behavior you can pay closer attention and take note of the changes. The more information you can provide to your veterinarian the easier it will be for him or her to diagnose the problem.
Feline allergies can be one of those difficult cat health problems to diagnose and it may be accompanied by a bacterial infection caused by all the scratching. In an effort to help with the diagnosis it’s a good idea to take note of some specifics and be prepared when you go to the vet.
Note where your cat is itching most — the face and neck, base of the tail or the belly. Note when the problem started and if it seems to be seasonal or year round. Seasonal allergies can be caused by pollen or sometimes fleas, depending on where you live. If your cat has hairless patches note which came first, the itching or the hairless patches. It’s also good to note if it has been contagious to any other animals or people in the house.
To diagnose feline allergies your veterinarian may want to preform allergy testing using either a blood test or an intradermal test. Another way to test for an allergy is to individually eliminate things from your cats environment until you find the allergen. This can be effective if you suspect a feline food allergy or an allergy to something like a new detergent.
Treatment for Allergies in Cats
Once you determine the cause of the itchy skin you can begin treatment. Secondary treatment for things like bacterial or yeast infection should be treated first so you can note the progress of the allergy treatment.
One of the most common causes of itchy skin in cats is fleas and allergies to flea bites. If fleas are the cause of the cat’s allergies you must treat for fleas before the problem will be resolved. If you have children or if you or your pets are sensitive to pesticides you may want to look into natural flea treatment and natural flea control. Whether you use conventional or natural flea treatment this is an essential part of the treatment of feline allergies to fleas.
The best remedy for cat allergies is to have your cat avoid the allergen, once it has been identified. If avoiding it altogether isn’t possible at least find ways to minimize the exposure.
Improving your cat’s diet can help with allergies. Do a little research and find a high quality food. You may want to look for a grain free canned cat food, since grains like wheat, corn and soy are common allergens for cats.
Try adding a basic feline supplement to your cat’s food; look for one that contains biotin. But the most important thing to add to your cat’s diet is essential fatty acids, like omega 3 fatty acids. Not only are they good for your cat’s coat but they also help reduce the amount and the effects of the chemicals like histamine that are released as a response to the allergies. Fish oil is a good source for cats.
If your cat has been itching for a while and has bare patches you may want to provide some immediate relief and try to keep the area clean by using a topical treatment like shampoo. Look for a shampoo with shea butter and/or oatmeal to help sooth and moisturize the skin.
Itchy skin can be a symptom of feline allergies or it can be a symptom of another cat health problem. To be sure work with your veterinarian to diagnose the exact problem._____________________________________