Allergies…They are quite an annoyance when they decide to flare up. Even more annoying is during seasons where they increase even more than usual in intensity making regular life harder. Equally tiring are the constant apologies to those unfortunate enough to be around when your sneezing among other less obvious symptoms just will not quit. On the upside, at least you are vocal and can apologize rather than just grossing everyone out. Your cat is not that fortunate and has to bear all that discomfort quietly. Surprised to hear kitty too can be allergic? Don’t be. Even cats can suffer from allergies. If you are curious about how that is possible or you want to know how to spot signs of seasonal allergies in cats, this helpful guide provides some useful information.
Causes of Seasonal Allergies in Cats
Seasonal allergies typically occur in cats that have a sensitivity to certain substances. The allergic cat’s immune system is triggered when it deems such substances dangerous to kitty’s body. These substances need not be anything exotic or unusual in some way. Other felines could be exposed to a similar environment and not experience any adverse reaction. A cat with allergies will though. The immune system being kitty’s inbuilt safety feature will take swift steps to eradicate its body of these perceived ‘dangerous substances’. The result is the appearance of varying symptoms in varying severity as the immune system does its work.
A number of substances could trigger an allergic reaction in a cat. Some felines react badly to mold, grass, pollen, plastic or even your perfume. The range of possible triggers of seasonal allergies in your cat is rather wide. So before you go getting mad with kitty about running off every time you get started on your weekly cleaning, consider that your pet might not be avoiding your company but simply allergic to your floor cleaning astringent. Same goes for kitty’s snuggle time resistance when you are wearing that perfume gifted you by your ex who by the way is unlikely to return after these many years. If you are a smoker, perhaps knowing that your cat is allergic to your cigarette smoke would be enough motivation to finally make you quit.
Can Food Trigger a Seasonal Allergy in a Cat?
It might sound surprising to hear that even food could trigger an allergy in kitty especially considering how your cat has quite a healthy appetite readily devouring basically everything in sight. Your cat having gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and in some cases, diarrhea is often a sign of a food allergy. Now do not go thinking, ‘but kitty has never shown any signs of food allergies before now? A feline seasonal food allergy could be developed at any point in a cat’s life and at any age.
Have you always wondering how kitty started developing symptoms right after your family fishing expedition? If that is a yes, you need to start thinking back to what your cat hungrily scarfed down that day. That salmon everyone couldn’t get enough of with kitty darting every which way practically pilfering the fish off of folks plates could be the culprit. Even chicken has been known to bring allergic reactions in sensitive cats.
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How to Spot a Food Allergy in Your Cat?
Food allergies, in particular, tend to be a little tricky to accurately diagnose without some professional help. If your cat’s symptoms have exacerbated to the point where its skin is very irritated, it is time to see the vet. Usually, an intradermal skin test is the preferred method in diagnosing food allergies in cats. This test is not done in a hurry and usually takes about 12 weeks of feeding your cat a prescription hydrolyzed protein diet. No medicine or sweets are allowed during this special diet. This new diet is not designed to permanently replace your cat’s old diet but to last only for the period it will take for the symptoms to subside. Once that is taken care of, some foods from its former diet especially suspected triggers food will be reintroduced one at a time and kitty’s reaction(s) to each of them noted till the culprit(s) foods are determined.
While knowing the causes of seasonal allergies in your cat certainly helps you reduce its exposure to possible triggers, you cannot really eliminate them all. Kitty just might still come down with something. Seasonal allergies in cats can be hard to recognize though if you are not sure what to look out for. We can help make your cat allergy identification much easier though.
Signs of Seasonal Allergies in Cats
Similar to the way it is in humans, sneezing is a common seasonal allergy symptom in cats. Is kitty doing a whole lot of scratching nowadays? So much scratching in fact that its fur is wearing thin and there are balls of hair littering the house with even its tail and ears included? If that is in the affirmative, your cat could have an allergy. Does your cat rub at its eyes a lot? Has vomiting and/or diarrhea been observed? Does your cat have tender paws, walking daintily yet still chewing at it? A yes answer to any of these questions could signal the presence of a seasonal allergy in your cat. Fat cats in particular at more at risk than others to develop to developing feline asthma.
Look out for redness on your cat. While red is your go-to sexy color for dates, seeing much red on kitty is never a good sign. The presence of rheumy, reddened eyes, paws or nose is a clear indicator of kitty is on its early steps towards coming down with a seasonal allergy. Carefully inspect kitty’s entire body looking under its fur for signs of hives on its skin. Bald spots on its skin are usually where the hives are located. Hives are so itchy that a cat suffering from it will scratch to the point of wearing its fur thin in affected spots. Look at your cat’s face – do you notice swelling with kitty’s face more puffy than usual? The outbreak of hives and facial puffiness are clear indicators of seasonal allergies.
In some felines that come down with seasonal allergies, Eosinophilia Granuloma Complex (EGC) can present itself. This condition is characterized by lesions on a cat’s skin. These lesions are often pinkish in color and in some cases can appear more as a bump. In other cases, ECG can even resemble an outbreak of hives. These ‘hivelike’ variation of ECG is called eosinophilic plaque lesions. Kitty’s thigh or stomach area is their preferred spot to appear. Remember that inspection you did of kitty’s face for puffiness? While you were at it, did you notice anything on your cat’s upper lip? Something like a cold sore that appears on your upper lip when you are ill except this time it is on kitty’s face and is more likely than not filled with pus. If yes, you have just seen an indolent ulcer, yet another indicator of an active seasonal allergy.
Steps to Reduce Development of Seasonal Allergies in Your Cat
As the name seasonal allergy itself suggests these conditions worsen during certain seasons. As the triggers of an allergy vary so also the seasons that bring them on also vary. Bouts of sneezing in both you and kitty are likely to become more severe around summer and spring when allergy triggers such as fresh grass, dandelions, pollen, and mold are in full bloom. That the pretty sight of lush, green grass, flowers growing bountifully radiating their beauty in the warm sunshine could be a harbinger of painful itching and scratching not to talk of watery sinuses in both humans and feline alike has never made the expression ‘beauty is pain’ more real.
- Limit Kitty’s Exposure
Fortunately, in all these gloomy talks of seasonal allergies in cats is a silver lining on the horizon. Not all cats will develop a seasonal allergy. Curious to know if your cat is among the least likely to come down with a seasonal allergy group? Well, it is not that hard to know. Simply find an answer to the question, is my cat an indoor or outdoor one? Then keep your fingers crossed that your kitty is in the former category. The truth is that cats that are mostly indoor are a lot less likely to come down with a seasonal allergy. The logic behind it is pretty simple. Spending a lot of time outdoors means greater exposure to seasonal allergy triggers. An indoor cat simply by virtue of its situation does not have such exposure.
If kitty being outdoors is more a function of your living conditions especially if you live on a ranch or in a cabin in the woods than it is of the season, you might consider making kitty a mostly indoor cat, limiting its outdoor time significantly when the season where its allergy triggers are rife.
- Cleanliness Makes a Difference
Allergens have built for themselves quite the reputation of being migratory, making their way into places where they are unwanted to bring on negative reactions. Keeping your environment and living space clean can make a world of difference in keeping the allergens out and your cat safe. Taking a bath and washing off your shoes after being outdoors can keep allergens such as dust and pollen in check. Kitty too must be kept clean with her paws cleaned of any pollen sticking to it from its time spent outdoors. While you are at it, you could even give kitty baths at regular intervals to wash off any allergens sticking to its fur gets washed off.
Even your air-conditioning or heating unit could be an allergen carrier with pollen or dust getting trapped in its filters or ducts. Maintenance of a regular cleaning schedule in which the appliance’s filter is cleaned or changed will go a long way in keeping allergens in check.
- Timing Matters
Leaving your windows open in summer or springtime sure has its perks. That feel of cool, natural air filling and airing the house can be quite refreshing after all the months of being under lockdown during winter. The downside to all that airy goodness is that pollen and dust, major seasonal allergens could just as easily hitch a ride on all that cool air right into your home to cause all kinds of traumatizing allergic reactions. The upside is you do have certain ‘safe’ periods where you can enjoy the air without kitty paying the price. Early mornings and late evenings are peak periods for allergen travel, so stick to the time in between and kitty should be fine. While your windows are open, you could use an air purifier for additional protection against allergens for both you and kitty.
- Look Beyond the Obvious
It is easy to get all caught up in the fight against dust and pollen in your quest to protect kitty from seasonal allergies that you end up overlooking other possible triggers. Sometimes an allergen more popular with dogs and resident on kitty’s furry little body is the allergen triggering your cat’s seasonal allergy. The flea although often thought synonymous with dogs also is equally common in felines. Flea bites are enough to introduce substances into a kitty’s body that its immune system will deem dangerous and attack bringing about an allergic reaction in a cat.
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Cat litter box is yet another allergen melting point. A litter box is a place kitty is in regular contact with seeing as it would likely visit there several times in one day while handling its business. As it turns out some brands of kitty litter could contain chemicals that could set off an allergic reaction in your cat. Going natural is often best in combating litter box related allergens. The use of boxes with natural, fragrance-free kitty litter is a good way to reduce the likelihood of an allergy flare-up from your cat.