"Cat allergy is very common with approximately 15% of cats having some type of allergy. Allergic reactions in cats are different than what happens in people. In humans, allergies usually cause problems with breathing. In cats, allergies usually affect the skin and cause itching."
Causes of Cat Allergy
There are several causes of feline allergy, including:
- Insects – Fleas (this is the most common allergy called Flea allergy dermatitis) and other biting insects. The saliva in the fleas’ mouth causes flea allergies. A typical flea allergic reaction will have your cat itching the moment they come in contact with the fleas with the itch continuing even after the fleas are killed.
- Airborne Allergens – Pollen, grass, and mold (feline atopic dermatitis)
- Food and Drugs – Certain feline food allergies and medications, including vaccinations (cat food allergies are called Cutaneous adverse food reactions).
Symptoms of Feline Allergy
Feline allergy symptoms can either happen immediately after exposure to an allergen (something that causes an allergic reaction) or can be from a delayed reaction to an allergen.
Constant licking of paws is a common symptom of allergies, more so than a stuffy nose. Other common symptoms to allergy include face-rubbing, belly-licking and ear infections. Coughing, sneezing, nasal and eye discharge, and difficulty breathing may also occur, however. Feline Hives
Immediate allergic reactions (within 30 minutes) usually cause feline hives on the skin. They can appear anywhere and usually disappear in 24 hours. You can recognize hives by a raised appearance, circular shape and itch. Your cat’s hair may also be raised in patches.
Hives are most often caused by insect bites, drug allergy (after vaccination common cause), insecticides (lawn treatments), and new foods.
Treatment of Cat Hives from Allergy
Hives disappear once the cause is no longer in contact with your cat. Determine what has changed in the past several hours such as a new food or if your cat was around a new substance such as a new brand of kitty litter.
For food allergies you can give your cat Milk of Magnesia (consult your Veterinarian first, suggested dose 7 to 25 ml. per pound orally once only) that quickens removal of the food from your cat’s stomach. If hives are caused by insecticide or other substance that came in contact with your cat’s skin, give your cat a bath using products you know are safe.
Like humans, you can also give your cat Benadryl (2 mg per pound orally every eight hours). Talk to your vet before giving your cat the medication to make sure it is safe for your cat. For extreme cases your veterinarian may also prescribe cortisone treatments.
Human Cat Allergy
Many people are allergic to the proteins that are in cat allergens such as saliva, dander and sebum. Sebum are flakes that fall of your cat's skin. These small flakes can be breathed in and can find there way onto surfaces in your house.
Since all cat's shed allergens, all breeds are similar in terms of the allergic response that would occur in people. Both male and female cats are problematic. Female cat's tend to shed more sebum, however male cats product more allergens. If you neuter your male cat, it will shed less and lower the likelihood of an allergic reaction.
It is possible that an allergy to your cat develops over weeks or years. Your body builds up antibodies to the allergens over time, a process that can take a while. Your cat may also shed more sebum later in life as the sebum flakes off in greater quantity with age.
Cat Allergy Shots for People
Traditional allergy shots can help you reduce the sensitivity to your cat's allergens. The method is effective and helps boost your resistance by 10x.
It might also help to buy a vacuum with a HEPA filter such as the Kenmore Progressive 35922. Besides being a good vacuum for owners with cat allergy, it is top rated for picking up cat hair.
One other step you can take is to avoid carpeting in the rooms your cat lives and consider hard wood floors. These floors are easier to clean when removing any accumulating allergens.
Cat Allergy Vaccine
There is work underway to test a cat allergy vaccine. Phase II clinical trials are underway and are scheduled to be completed in April 2009. The next phase will be a field trial prior to release to the general public. Since we are still some time away, other approaches will need to be considered.
Professor of Dermatology
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California: “Flea Allergy Dermatitis”
Have a Cat Health Question or Want to Share a Story that could help others?
Can't find the information you need or want to share a story that will help others? Send in your cat health question or describe your cat's health care issue and we will do our best to send a reply. One question will be selected each week.
Be sure to include helpful information such as breed, age, sex and medical history including medications, lifestyle (indoor or outdoors) and other information you think might be helpful such as any recent diagnosis.
We will try and respond as quickly as possible. If you have an urgent cat health question we suggest using this online veterinary cat answer service that is staffed by vets and available 24 hours a day. You only pay a small fee for answers you accept.
What Other Visitors Have Asked or Shared
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Calico Cat Hair Problem
My cat has very fine medium length fur similar to rabbit fur. Sami is a beautiful calico who turns into an alien fur ball by the end of Summer. She is …
Cat Allergy Causing Hair Loss? Not rated yet
Reader Question: What Is Causing My Cat To Lose Hair? My cat is an indoor, female, eight year old domestic short hair. I switched (from clay litter) …