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7 Most Common Allergies in Cats: Facts & Symptoms

If your cat is suffering from allergies, it’s usually one of these four types: environmental, food, seasonal, and flea allergies. However, more specifically, there are thousands of potential allergens all around. Your cat could be allergic to the plants in your garden, the detergent you use to clean your laundry, or the ingredients in its food. If your cat does suffer from allergies, you will need to take action to prevent allergic reactions.

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Allergy Symptoms

Typical symptoms of allergic reaction in cats include itchy skin, sneezing, coughing, runny eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, swollen paws, and snoring. Look for visible signs of allergies on your cat’s skin, too, such as signs that they have been itching and biting a particular area. Redness and even some bleeding might be common. If you spot the sign of allergies, you can consult with a vet who may be able to do an allergy test to identify what your cat is reacting to. Alternatively, you can first look for some of the more common allergens and then find ways to eliminate these from your cat’s life.

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The 7 Most Common Allergies

The most common allergies for cats are:

1. Fleas

A flea allergy is the most common of all cat allergies. Your cat can become irritated after just one or two flea bites, and the reaction can continue for weeks.

close up fleas on cat
Image Credit: KanphotoSS, Shutterstock

A cat with a flea allergy will clean itself vigorously. This can lead to skin irritation and it also means that it can be very difficult to find evidence of fleas on your cat. Evidence can include the fleas themselves, as well as larvae.

The most common symptom of a flea allergy is your cat scratching around its neck, where fleas are most often located. There are many flea treatments on the market, including over-the-counter and prescription medications. Most flea treatments aim to kill adults and prevent juvenile fleas from growing up.

Do not use canine flea medication on your cat and if you find that over-the-counter treatment doesn’t work, consult your vet.

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2. Pollen

Cats enjoy getting outdoors to investigate, but one of the dangers that lurk outside your four walls is pollen. Pollen comes from grass, trees, and flowers, and cats, just like people, can suffer allergic reactions to it.

A pollen allergy will usually start seasonal so your cat will get sick when hayfever rates are high in humans. However, cats tend to be more allergic as they age, so what starts seasonal can become an ongoing and permanent problem when your cat gets older.

Indoor cats can also suffer from pollen allergies. Use an air conditioner or pollen filter to help rid the indoor environment of allergens for your cat. Wipe them down with a damp cloth to get rid of the pollen. Give fatty acid supplements or consult a vet to get prescription antihistamine and other medication to help.

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3. Dust & Mites

Cats can also be allergic to indoor allergens. Dust is a common allergy in people, and similarly in cats. Other household allergies include mites, mold, and mildew.

The symptoms are identical to pollen and outdoor allergies, except that they will trigger when your cat spends time indoors rather than outdoors.

Ensure that you clean and pay particular attention to those areas of the home where your cat likes to spend time. Keep him out of particularly prone areas like the basement or attic and clean his fur with a damp cloth.

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4. Food

Food allergies are not as common as environmental allergies in cats, but they can occur. In particular, your cat might be allergic to grains, while some commercial foods include common allergens like yeast.

Food allergies can develop at any age and signs include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and bad gas.

Diagnosis will require an elimination diet. This means feeding a novel protein for 8 weeks. If the symptoms disappear, your cat has been suffering from a food allergy and you should start to gradually reintroduce ingredients one at a time until you witness an allergic response. Remember that your cat may be allergic to more than one ingredient so continue the gradual reintroduction of ingredients until you identify all food-based allergens.

There are many different foods on the market, including those that intentionally eliminate known allergens. Grain-free recipes, for example, are common.

wheat field
Image Credit: Melissa Askew, Unsplash
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5. Plastic Bowls

Allergies to plastic are nothing new. If you feed your cat from a plastic bowl or use a plastic bowl as a water source, your cat may exhibit symptoms such as feline acne. It may show allergic reactions after eating, making you think it’s the food, but an elimination diet won’t work because it’s the actual bowl that is causing the reaction.

The solution is to buy a bowl made from different materials. There are plenty of food-grade stainless steel bowls, ceramic bowls, and those made from other materials on the market.

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6. Perfumes

Cats can be allergic to the perfumes that are used in clothes detergents, for washing your carpet, or even those that you wear yourself.

Common symptoms of this type of allergy are sneezing, wheezing, and coughing, as well as unexpected snoring and weepy eyes.

Try unscented products or those that contain different ingredients, to determine whether this is the cause of your cat’s snotty nose.

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7. Medication

And, finally, whether they are over the counter or prescription, medicines and drugs can cause allergic reactions, too. The symptoms that your cat exhibits will vary according to the allergen and the drug in question but may include vomiting, diarrhea, and even anaphylaxis, difficulty breathing, and collapsing.

If your cat reacts badly to a medication, you should consult your vet straight away. They will be able to determine your next best step, which may include changing medication or stop taking it completely.

cat having medication
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

You might also be interested in: Can Your Cat Be Allergic to Humans?

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The treatment of allergic reactions depends on the type of reaction and the allergen. Ideally, the best treatment is to remove the allergen from your cat’s life completely, but this isn’t always possible. You can give a fatty acid-based supplement or consult a vet to get antihistamines and other prescription medication that will help fend off the symptoms and the allergic response altogether.

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While we have listed the most common allergies above, your cat could be allergic to any of thousands of specific allergens. Removing the allergen from your cat’s life is the ideal solution, but is not always practical. Look for supplements or medication to help and consult with a vet to identify the allergen and work out the best possible plan of action to combat it.

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Featured Image: Maja Marjanovic, Shutterstock