How to Help a Cat with Allergies

Allergy problems are common in cats. A feline allergic reaction is caused by seasonal allergies, parasites, food or contact irritants. An allergic reaction occurs when the body comes in contact with a substance that causes the immune system to believe that it is harmful. Cat allergy symptoms are different from the sneezing and watery eyes seen in humans. In cats, allergic reactions primarily affect the skin, but can also affect the respiratory and digestive systems.

Flea allergy dermatitis occurs when cats are not treated with a deterrent or when there are gaps in product use. Fleas feed by injecting an antigen into the host animal. Symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis are in areas that cannot be groomed, such as the top of the tail or around the neck. Treatment starts with the use of a flea killer followed by a product formulated to prevent future problems.

Atopy is also also often diagnosed. Inhaled seasonal allergens are mold or pollen. Signs of atopic dermatitis are hair loss, skin inflammation and itch. Skin changes include ulcers, cat acne and bigger abrasions called granulomas. Scratching introduces other issues such as infection. Steroids are used to eliminate any inflammation. Omega acids can help the healing process.

Last, food allergy is triggered when a cat has an adverse reaction to any ingredient found in snacks or food. There are 40 ingredients in the feline diet. Food allergy is not the same as a food intolerance. Dietary allergy is an unnatural immunological response response, while food intolerance happens when the body cannot easily digest certain ingredients. Both lead to symptoms such as skin inflammation and hair loss. Common food allergens are chicken, egg, protein, pork wheat, oats, fish, corn and soy. Indications of food allergy are itchy skin, and skin lesions on the neck and head. Skin injury is the direct result of scratching an itchy area. Signs of Gastrointestinal problems are diarrhea or vomiting.

Treatment for any hypersensitivity involves the identification and removal of the cause. To reach a specific diagnosis, lab testing or other diagnostic methods are required. For food allergy a hypoallergenic diet helps to pinpoint the problem ingredient. In the case of seasonal allergies, moving a kitten or cat inside or purchasing a vacuum with a HEPA filter can remove the allergens from the environment. Allergy shots are also available or reduce the size of any skin reaction.

Cathy Doggins is the writer of the highly rated as well as many articles on cat health. When not writing abou t cats and kittens, Cathy can be found caring for her three cats, two dogs and pet lizard. She is a frequent speaker on pet issues and enjoys volunteering at local small animal shelters.

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