Cat Diseases - Skin Allergies

Cat Contact allergies
  • Cats are commonly affected by allergies.
  • An allergy occurs when a cat's immune system overacts to foreign substances or particles (called allergens).
  • This overactive immune system can cause any of the following allergy symptoms in cats:
        Skin itchiness causing scratching and rubbing
        Sneezing, coughing or wheezing
        Vomiting, diarrhea, gas or bloating
    Types of Cat Allergies
    There are four types of allergies that affect cats. These include:
  • Contact allergies
  • Flea allergies
  • Food allergies
  • Atopy (Airborne allergies)
    Contact dermatitis:
  • This is the least common allergy in cats.
  • Contact dermatitis is a result of the cat coming into contact with a substance.
  • The cat's fur acts as a barrier, protecting it from allergy producing compounds.
    • Symptoms:
    • Non seasonal itching, especially in areas where there isn't much fur. Typical areas include the chin, ears, toes, underbelly and anus.
    • Lesions of any type: redness, rash, papules (pimple-like), vesicles, and blisters.
    • Skin redness or inflammation
    • Thickening of the skin
    • Identification and elimination of the substance causing contact dermatitis is the best solution.
    • Corticosteroids may be prescribed to control the itch.
    • Antibiotics may be necessary to treat secondary bacterial infections.
Cat flea allergy dermatitis
    Flea Allergy Dermatitis:
  • Flea allergy dermatitis (flea bite hypersensitivity) is the most common skin allergy in cats.
  • As the name suggests, it is caused by an allergic reaction to a flea bite.
    • Symptoms:
    • Frequent scratching and biting of the fur, especially on the back and the base of the tail
    • Raised bumps (papules) or scabs on the skin.
    • Thinning fur in the affected area
    • Using a flea comb on your cat and washing her bedding once a week will go a long way toward controlling flea infestation.
    • Eliminating fleas from your cat and environment, and preventing re-infestation of fleas.
    • Treating secondary skin infections caused by excessive biting and scratching of the skin.
    • This may involve a course of antibiotics, medicated shampoo and or a topical medication.
    • Antihistamines or steroids may be prescribed by your veterinarian to control inflammation and reduce itching.
    Food allergy:
  • This is caused by an allergic reaction to one or more ingredients in the cat's food.
  • The most common causes of food allergies are fish, beef, eggs, wheat and milk.
  • Cats can become allergic to foods they have eaten for a long period of time.
    • Symptoms:
    • Non seasonal itching, especially on the front half of the body and head
    • Hair loss (due to excessive scratching)
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Ears may be swollen and or infected.
    • Avoiding the food which caused the allergies is the best method of treatment.
    • This may either be a homemade diet or a commercial one.
    Airborne Allergy (Atopy):
  • An allergy to particles your cat inhales is called atopy.
  • Common allergens include tree pollen, grass pollens, weed pollens, molds, mildew and house dust mites.
  • Many of these allergies occur seasonally, such as ragweed and grass pollens. Others, such as molds, mildew and house dust mites are year-round problems.
  • When cats inhale these allergens they develop severe itching of the entire body.
    • Symptoms:
    • Chewing on feet
    • Rubbing the face on the carpet
    • Itching and scratching
    • Rubbing and licking, especially around the face, paws, and underarms.
    • Identifying the allergen or allergens responsible and remove them from your cat’s environment is the best prevention for atopic dermatitis.
    • Bathing your cat in cool water with anti-itch shampoos may help your cat alleviate its symptoms.
    • One of the most important treatments for atopy is to minimize your cat's exposure to things he is allergic to. For example, if a cat is allergic to pollen, he should be kept inside with the windows closed when pollen counts are high or the grass is being mowed.
    • Air filters also help remove many airborne allergens to keep the home environment clean.
    • Your veterinarian may recommend shampoos and anti-inflammatory medications to help alleviate his allergy symptoms.
    • Skin testing and allergy shots may be performed in severe condition.