Allergy problems are common in cats and kittens. A feline allergic reaction is caused by atopy, parasites, diet or chemicals. An allergic reaction happens when a cat is exposed to a substance that causes the immune system to react as if that it is harmful. Feline allergic reactions are different from the symptoms seen in humans. In cats, allergic reactions primarily affect the skin, but can also affect the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems.
Flea allergy dermatitis occurs when cats are not protected with a deterrent or when these types of products are not consistently used. Fleas feed by injecting an antigen into the cat. Signs of flea allergy dermatitis are in areas that cannot be groomed, such as the top of the tail or around the neck. Treatment starts with the use of a product that eliminates fleas followed by a product formulated to prevent future infestations.
Inhaled allergens are also often diagnosed. Inhaled allergenic substances are pollen or mold. Signs of atopic dermatitis are hair loss, and red or itchy skin. Skin changes include ulcers, cat acne and bigger abrasions called granulomas. Itching can introduce other problems such as infection. Steroids such as prednisone can help to reduce any inflammation. Fatty acids can help the skin to heal.
Last, dietary sensitivity occurs when a cat has an abnormal reaction to any ingredient found in snacks or food. There are forty potential allergens in the feline diet. Food sensitivity is often confused with food intolerance. Dietary allergy is an abnormal immune reaction, while food intolerance occurs when the body cannot digest the food. Both lead to symptoms such as skin inflammation and hair loss. Common dietary allergens are chicken, egg, protein, duck wheat, soy, corn, fish and oats. Indicators of a dietary allergy are itching or scratching, and skin lesions on the head and neck. Skin injury is the direct result of self-trauma in an itchy spot. Signs of stomach problems are vomiting or diarrhea.
Treatment for allergens involves the removal of the trigger from the cats environment. To pinpoint a specific diagnosis, lab testing or other diagnostic methods are required. For food allergy a hypoallergenic diet helps to determine the problem component. For respiratory allergies, moving a kitten or cat inside or purchasing a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter can remove the allergens from the environment. Allergy shots can help to reduce any sensitivity or minimize the scale of any reaction.
Cathy Doggins is the pulbisher of the widely read and highly regarded http://www.cat-health-guide.org as well as many articles on cat health. When not writing abou tkitties, she spends her time caring for 3 cats, two dogs and pet lizard. She is a frequent speaker on cat issues and frequently volunteers at local feline shelters.