Cat health: Feline Allergies

Posted on June 1, 2011 under Cat Articles

A cat with cat insurance eats a meal from a dish.

Like dogs, cats can also have allergies. There are several different causes for cat allergies including flea bites, food allergies, atopy (inhaling something like pollen or dust) and immune-response allergies, which can be very serious. Many pet insurance companies will cover allergies so long as they are not preexisting conditions.

Food Allergy
Cats can have allergic reactions to foods that cause similar responses in humans—soy, dairy products, wheat, or meats. To determine if a cat is allergic to a substance, they must be exposed at least twice. If a reaction happens after only one exposure, it could be an isolated incident.

• Symptoms: These can include itchy rashes on cats’ heads, necks and backs. Often hair loss and sores will result from scratching. Less common is redness and a discharge from the ears.

• Treatment: After it’s determined that a food is causing the allergic reaction, treatment starts with changing the food to a hypoallergenic type.

Inhalant Allergy (Atopic Dermatitis)
Sometimes you will see an inhalant allergy as the seasons change and pollen gets in the air. But mold, dust, and other irritants can cause the reaction as well. You may see itching and rashes on the cat’s head, neck. Excessive licking can cause hair loss.

This type of allergy is hard to differentiate from allergic reactions caused by insect bites. Diagnosis is often made after skin tests. Because quality veterinary care can be expensive, looking for the best pet insurance for your cat is a good idea.

• Treatment: As with foods, try to identify the allergen and remove it from the cat’s environment. The cat can also be treated with antihistamines, but this will not cure the allergy.

Immune-Related Skin Allergies
These are a group of diseases that come from the body’s autoimmune system “attacking” the skins. It’s the most common allergy seen in cats and results in itching and small pustules. In severe cases, symptoms include a fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy.

• Treatment: This can include corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs.

Watch for symptoms and signs of allergies in your cat. Because cat health care can be expensive, be sure to find a pet insurance company that will provide coverage for allergies.