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Pet Owner Resources

Feline Allergies

Feline Allergies

KNOW THE SIGNS OF ALLERGIC ITCHING OR PAW LICKING

An occasional itch may be quite normal but it should never interrupt activities, cause hair loss or lead to skin damage.  Frequent or constant scratching, licking, biting, scooting or licking are most often signs of allergic skin disease.  Paw licking is another huge symptom of allergies.

Extreme itchiness of the skin commonly occurs in cats with allergies, and they will frequently scratch at their ears, eyes, and body. In case of flea allergies, the cat will over-groom and pull out the fur along its back and the base of its tail. The cat may also have swollen paws from chewing on them in response to the paws feeling itchy.

In cats with food allergies, symptoms will also include vomiting and diarrhea. Food allergies, however, are not as common as flea and environmental allergies,

SYMPTOMS

Scratching and damaging the face

Generalized scratching

Red, itchy watery eyes

Hair loss

Sneezing

Itchy ears

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Coughing

Scabs down the back

WHAT CAN CATS BE ALLERGIC TO?

Flea bites (saliva of flea)

Trees

Grass

Weeds

Mold spores

House dust

Dander

Feathers

Cigarette smoke

Food (Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Pork, Corn, Wheat, Soy)

CAN CATS BE ALLERGIC TO FOOD?

Yes, but it often time takes detective work to find out what substance is causing the allergy.  When cats are allergy tested many times there are 7, 10, even 20 allergens found that they are allergic to!)  

Cats with food allergies will commonly have itchy skin, chronic ear infections, sometimes gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting.  The only way to determine if food is the culprit is to put the cat on a prescription hydrolyzed elimination diet such as Hills Prescription z/d for 8-12 weeks.  The importance of not feeding your cat ANYTHING but the diet cannot be emphasized enough – that means NO TREATS, table food or flavored medication.  This diet will be free of potential allergy causing ingredients and will ideally have ingredients your cat has never been exposed to. He’ll remain on the diet until his symptoms go away, at which time you’ll begin to reintroduce old food to see which ones might be causing the allergic reaction.  

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK MY PET HAS ALLERGIES?

Make an appointment with us. After taking a complete history and conducting a physical examination  (which may include skin scrapings, fungal cultures and trichograms) a diagnosis will be made.  If it is determined that allergic skin disease is present the proper medications will be prescribed that will calm down the symptoms and make your cat so much more comfortable!

HOW CAN CAT ALLERGIES BE TREATED?

Prevention is the best treatment for allergies caused by fleas.  Start a flea control program for all of your pets before the season starts. Remember outdoor pets can carry fleas inside to indoor pets.  There are many flea control products available such as Frontline Gold and Revolution.  Ask us which products we feel are the best.

If dust is the problem, clean your pet’s bedding once a week and vacuum at least twice weekly.  This includes rugs, curtains and any other materials that gather dust.

If food allergy is suspected an exclusive prescription hydrolyzed protein diet is used.

ARE THERE ALLERGY MEDICATIONS FOR CATS?

Since it is impossible to remove every allergen from the environment your cat may benefit from medications to control the allergic reaction.

Antihistamines such as Benadryl can be used but may only benefit a small percentage of cats with allergies.

Fatty acid supplements might relieve your cat’s itchy skin.  Sprays containing oatmeal, aloe and other natural products are also available. Effectiveness is variable.

Anti-inflammatories, such as steroids, work very well but do have side effects such as excessive drinking and urination, weight gain, behavior changes and panting.  However this is currently the only effective treatment for cats with allergies.  

Cytopoint and Apoquel that work so well in dogs are not able to be used in cats.

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