Common Allergens for Cats

Cats can suffer from a wide range of allergies. The most common is an allergy to fleas. As cats get older, their sensitivity to flea bites increases. Food allergies account for another 5-10% of feline allergy peeves–these can manifest as dermatitis and severe itching as well as vomiting and diarrhea. And, just like humans, it may take some 10 years of exposure before a cat’s allergy presents such outward signs.

Cat Allergies

When a cat scratches, bites, or chews excessively, chances are she’s suffering from an allergy. The cause of the allergy—the allergen—could be virtually anything in a cat’s environment. In some instances, a highly allergic cat may have several allergies active at once. Identifying the cause of the allergy requires teamwork between you and your veterinarian—the same teamwork needed to keep it under control.

Flea Bite Allergies

The most common allergy affecting dogs and cats is flea bite allergy. It occurs when a dog or cat is exposed to flea saliva at the time of a flea bite.

Controlling fleas in your cat’s environment is the obvious treatment for flea bite allergy. To do this, both the cat and her environment need care. Flea collars provide a small measure of relief. However, some cats are allergic to them, too. Flea powders, sprays, shampoos, and dips can all help rid cats of fleas. Just make sure to read and follow label directions. Excessive use of any of these products may be hazardous for your animal. And veterinarians can often prescribe drugs that kill fleas or break the pests’ life cycle. A word of further caution: Be certain that all flea-fighting products used state clearly and specifically that they’re kitty-safe, as certain doggie-approved items are actually toxic to cats.

Because fleas spend most of their life cycle free of an animal host, all outdoor areas frequented by your pet should be treated with sprays or foggers. To help control flea infestation within the house, clean and vacuum thoroughly. To manage heavy infestations, the services of a professional exterminator may be necessary.

Inhalant & Contact Allergies

Inhalant allergies result from breathing in substances such as pollen from trees, ragweed and other plants, house dust, and mould. Contact allergies are caused by physical contact with the irritating substance. Each can occur both indoors and out. Among the most common cat allergens are soaps, insecticides, wool or nylon carpets, paint, wood preservatives, poison ivy, oak, and grass. Some cats may even be allergic to plastic feeding dishes.

Identifying the offending irritant is critical to controlling allergies of every kind. Once determined, every effort should then be made to eliminate its presence from the cat’s environment. For skin lesions and itching, consult your veterinarian.

Food Allergies

Although some cats develop allergies to food, this is rare. A food allergy results from an abnormal immune reaction to an ingredient found in the food. Food allergies usually appear as skin problems or gastrointestinal upsets. However, a variety of diseases have similar signs. Consequently other causes should be excluded before a pet’s diet is blamed or changed.

If a food allergy is suspected, your veterinarian will probably recommend a special “elimination trial” in order to be certain that diet is in fact the cause of the problem, and to identify the ingredient to which she is allergic.

Do you have a product for pets with allergies?

Purina produces a full line of veterinary diet formulas that have been formulated as nutritional aids in the dietary management of dogs and cats with certain health conditions

Specifically, Purina Veterinary Diets™ HA Hypoallergenic™ Brand Formula is specially designed for the management of food allergies, available in a formula for dogs or cats.

These diets are authorized for prescription and sale only by veterinarians. If you feel your pet would benefit from one of these formulas, consult your veterinarian or call 1 866 884-8387 (Weekdays, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET)