Much like their people, cats can have seasonal allergies. While skin irritation, excessive scratching and redness around the eyes and other areas are common symptoms of seasonal allergies, there are also others. Today, our board-certified veterinarians in Lexington share types of seasonal allergies, signs and potential treatment options.
Your Cat's Seasonal Allergies
Similar to people, cats can experience seasonal allergies to things such as grass, and pollen. You may also notice your cat suffering from hay fever. However, your kitty's reactions to an allergen may differ from yours and include anything from skin irritation to excessive scratching and redness around the eyes.
When cats interact with or inhale something they're sensitive to, seasonal allergies can develop. These allergies occur when the immune system has an intolerant reaction to an allergen.
After they come into contact with that substance the first time, the immune system will be sensitive to it, and cause an inflammatory response any time your cat encounters that same allergen again.
Cats that spend time outdoors are more likely to get seasonal allergies than cats who are kept strictly indoors. However, there are a few things you can do to find out whether your cat has seasonal allergies and help alleviate them.
Factors that influence seasonal allergies will only be present at specific times throughout the year. Think grass and tree pollen, hay fever, mold and mold mites, flea bites, fresh grass, dust and dust mites in the spring, summer or fall.
Signs That Your Cat Has Seasonal Allergies
Reactions to seasonal allergies can differ depending on the irritant. For example, while hay fever often triggers itchy eyes, sneezing and runny noses in humans, symptoms of hay fever often appear in a cat's skin. You might notice:
- Sores or bald patches in the fur due to excessive itching
- Skin irritation
- Snoring (caused by throat irritation)
- Redness around the eyes, ears, mouth or chin
- Sneezing, wheezing or coughing (particularly prevalent if your cat also has asthma)
Diagnosing Seasonal Allergies in Cats
Our board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist in Lexington is able to diagnose conditions of the immune and other internal systems. We provide specialized care for pets referred to us by their regular veterinarians. During an appointment, we can perform a physical exam, assess your cat's medical history, perform laboratory tests (such as blood work) and at our in-house diagnostic vet lab and monitor your cat's response to therapies.
How to Treat a Cat with Seasonal Allergies
Your veterinarian can provide diagnosis and subsequent treatment of your cat's seasonal allergies. Because some symptoms may point to other health problems, it's important to rule these out before determining appropriate treatment. Some ways to treat seasonal allergies in cats include:
These can reduce your cat's reaction to pollen in the long-term. They are most effective when used as a preventive approach - before your cat is exposed to the allergen.
Allergy Injections, Cortisone or Steroids for Airborne Pollens
If your cat has severe allergies, these will help manage symptoms.
Giving your cat a once or twice-weekly bath will be helpful in removing pollen from their coat, therefore relieving itching. Ask your vet for recommendations on what shampoo to use. It's important that the water be lukewarm to prevent overdrying and skin irritation.
Some medications control the immune system's response to allergens. Your Lexington veterinarian can prescribe these after conducting a physical exam and running blood work.
We caution against trying any home remedies, including over-the-counter ones, before taking your cat to your vet, as you could inadvertently make the problem worse. Because medication requires a prescription, it's important to bring your cat into our clinic so that we can ensure they receive the treatment they need.
Some prescription medications may have side effects, so ask your vet how taking them may affect your cat's health.
Limiting Exposure to Allergens
From fall through summer, your dog may be exposed to any number of allergens. One key to keeping your cat happy and healthy is managing exposure. Consider keeping your cat indoors, especially on days when the pollen count is high.
Keep irritants out of your home by removing shoes when you come inside, vacuuming and wiping surfaces frequently (including windowsills) and changing filters in air conditioners and heaters on schedule. You may also consider purchasing an air purifier to keep pollen and dust in check.
When it comes to cats and allergies, proper treatment and active prevention measures can often reduce the impact of seasonal allergens on your cat's health and well-being, though it may take some experimenting.Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.