"Cats and allergies
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"Cats and allergies

Cats
Health & Safety

Just like people and other pets like dogs, cats can sometimes be allergic to certain things, which can lead to a range of symptoms of discomfort and even distress when their allergies are flaring up.

In order to be able to keep your cat healthy and comfortable and able to lead a full and normal life, it is important for cat owners to be able to identify the symptoms of allergies when they occur and learn to recognise the signs of a flare-up, as well as seeking advice from the vet on how to identify the trigger of the allergy, and what can be done to make your cat’s life easier.

In this article, we will look at allergies in cats in more detail, including covering some of the most common allergens, the symptoms of allergies in cats, and how allergies can be tackled. Read on to learn more about cats and allergies.

What is an allergy?

An allergy occurs when the cat’s immune system is hypersensitive to a certain substance in the environment that is usually harmless in and of itself, but that the immune system of the cat in question sees as a threat to the cat’s wellness, and so, attacks and attempts to destroy it.

This means that the issue with cat allergies are not so much the triggering compound itself, but the cat’s own immune reaction to it, and the symptoms of allergies that lead to discomfort and irritation in your cat are actually a result of the body’s overly enthusiastic immune response to the trigger, and not the item they are allergic to itself!

This is why some cats may be allergic to otherwise innocuous things, whilst other cats that come into contact with the same compound will be totally unaffected.

What are the symptoms of allergies in cats?

The symptoms of allergies are virtually universal to all mammals that suffer from them, including cats, dogs and humans!

The symptoms may come and go as your cat is exposed to or removed from their triggers, or if your cat is allergic to something that they are in constant contact with, the symptoms may continue for the long term, and all of these factors will vary from cat to cat, and depend on what they are allergic to and how ubiquitous it is in the environment.

The main indications of an allergy in your cat will generally include all or several of the following things:

  • A runny nose or congestion.
  • Itchy, watery eyes that may appear sore or red.
  • Noisy breathing or snoring.
  • A persistent cough or wheezing.
  • Sometimes, lethargy and a general loss of interest in exercise and activity may occur.
  • Your cat may also lose interest in food if their allergic reaction is making them feel particularly unwell.
  • Some forms of allergen can also cause contact dermatitis, or a skin reaction in your cat, which may well be itchy, sore and irritating for your cat.

Identifying the allergenic trigger

The most effective way to ease allergies in cats without the need for medication is to identify the allergenic trigger, or compound that is causing the allergy, and limit or end your cat’s exposure to it. However, it is not always simple to work out what your cat is reacting badly to, and naturally, some triggers cannot always be completely eradicated.

Some of the most common allergenic triggers for cats can include certain types of food or ingredients in cat food, mould, dust, pollen and grass, parasitic allergies such as a hypersensitivity to flea saliva, and certain chemical substances such as may be found in cleaning materials.

When you first suspect that your cat is suffering from an allergy, you should take them along to the vet in order to begin trying to formally identify what the trigger is, as knowing the trigger makes managing the problem much easier.

Your vet will likely perform some exposure tests on your cat and make suggestions for changing their diet or altering other elements of their lifestyle, in order to narrow down the potential culprits of the allergy and attempt to end exposure to them.

What can be done for cats with allergies?

If your vet can identify the trigger for your cat’s allergy, this can go a long way towards dictating the best way to proceed. Some allergies are easier to tackle than others; for instance, if your cat is allergic to a certain type of food, feeding them a different diet that does not contain it or a special veterinary sensitivity diet can resolve the problem entirely.

However, other allergenic triggers such as grass or pollen can be much harder to manage, as it is impossible to eradicate these things from the environment entirely-however, there are still some steps that you can take to lessen their effect.

For allergies to grass or pollen, using air purifiers in the home, keeping your cat indoors when the pollen levels are high and wiping their coats over when they come in from outside to remove pollen can all help.

However, for serious allergies or those for which the trigger cannot be identified or removed, your cat may require medication to help to make them more comfortable, such as antihistamines to counteract the body’s immune response, or steroidal medications to make it easier for them to breathe.

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