Allergy in cats: How to recognize and treat them?
Just like us humans, a cat can also have an allergy, which manifests itself through similar symptoms such as itching or inflammation. Most allergies develop in the course of life. The triggers for it can be different. The most common allergies in cats come from food or environmental factors. If you notice allergic symptoms, you should consult a veterinarian. Why is it important. What treatment options are available?
How does it manifest itself when a cat has an allergy?
Basically, allergies in cats can arise quite suddenly. Even if they have not shown any symptoms for years, it can happen from now on. In addition, there are also animals that are allergic to certain substances already as kittens and presumably have an innate disposition for this. Some allergies remain for the whole life, others disappear after a certain period of time. The course and duration cannot be predicted exactly.
What exactly is an allergy? This is what medicine calls an "overreaction" of the immune system. Normal substances or food components found in the environment cause severe symptoms. These allergens can be absorbed through the skin, but whether it is really an allergy must be clarified by the veterinarian. If your cat has skin problems and itches, scratches or licks certain areas of its coat, it could also be suffering from other diseases. Skin and hair samples can be used, for example, to rule out a fungal disease.
The itching is unbearable, the cat scratches persistently, until the skin becomes inflamed.
Typical symptoms of allergy in cats:
– Itching – Skin inflammation – Bald patches – Compulsive grooming – Digestive disorders such as diarrhea and vomiting – Inflammation of certain body parts such as ears or paws – Breathing with open mouth, distinct lifting and lowering of the flanks – Allergic asthma with severe shortness of breath and fear of suffocation.
Note: Often cats react not only to one, but to several allergens. Typical is for example an allergy to pollen. Other aeroallergens such as house dust. Therefore, it is best to have your veterinarian determine exactly which substances your velvet paw is allergic to. This is crucial so that the right therapy can be applied. Possible diagnosis is a blood test, or in the case of food intolerance, a special diet for several weeks.
What can cause an allergy in cats??
Some of the things that bloom and fly can lead to an allergic reaction.
In addition to certain components of cat food, such as grains or proteins, allergens can also be substances from the environment and other external influences.
– mites – fleas – house dust – mold – plant pollen from grasses, weeds and trees – insect bites – antiparasitics such as flea medication – ointments, powders or shampoos – cat litter with fragrances.
What you can do against an allergy in your cat?
First of all, it is important that you observe your four-legged darling closely, as your experience can be a great support in the cause research. Pay attention to when the allergy symptoms occur and what circumstances accompany them. If your cat shows allergic reactions immediately after eating, it probably has a food intolerance.
TIP If you discover inflammations on the paws or on the skin after your cat has been outdoors, it is obvious that the allergens are pollen or similar substances. Infestation with vermin is also possible.
If the cat scratches itself suddenly: Flea allergy
Itching is one of the symptoms of flea allergy, or rather allergic flea dermatitis (FAD). It belongs to the most frequent allergies with cats. Think also, your animal should be covered with fleas in this case? Unfortunately, the bite of a single flea is enough to cause excruciating itching. Only a consistent flea control on the animal itself, but also in the environment, can help. Clean all blankets, baskets, pillows, carpets, scratching posts and don't forget the other animal roommates as well.
Whatever your cat may be allergic to, the first and most important step is always to avoid the triggering substance. If pollen is responsible, you should let your cat outside as little as possible on days with a strong pollen count or, in the best case, not at all.
The food makes sick? The strategy is called "avoidance
The "avoidance method" is also advised in case of food allergy. For example, there are products to buy that do not contain cereals or have selected sources of protein. These are used as alternatives to poultry, beef or pork, which are often the cause of protein intolerance. This so-called hypoallergenic cat food has an easily digestible formula, so that it is very suitable for sensitive animals.
If severe asthma attacks occur repeatedly, in which your cat shows fear of death in the worst case, the veterinarian can give you an emergency medication. In such cases, please immediately inform the veterinarian or the nearest veterinary clinic, so that your cat gets the necessary help there as soon as possible.
Therapy against allergy: Desensitization
For hay fever and other allergies in humans, the so-called de- or hyposensitization is successfully used. This can also be used as a method against environmental allergies in cats. The immune system is "accustomed" to the allergen until it is considered harmless by the body. To achieve this, the veterinarian regularly injects the cat with the allergen, starting with small doses and increasing them step by step. The prerequisite for the treatment method is that the substance to which the velvet paw reacts is clearly known. Unfortunately, this therapy can be very lengthy. Take a lot of time.
The only option to cure an allergy
A hundred percent cure is rare
In most cases a relief is achieved
Can improve quality of life
The symptoms of allergy in cats can also be treated with medication. Usually medicines are used, which are based on the body's own hormone cortisone. The aim of this treatment is to suppress the defense reactions and thus to alleviate the symptoms. However, side effects such as muscle atrophy or hair loss may occur with these medications. Therefore, veterinarians often prescribe cortisone therapy only for a temporary period.
For example, if your cat is allergic to pollen, it should be given the medicine only during the period of the year when the pollen count is highest. If a permanent medication is necessary, the veterinarian will determine the smallest effective dose. In addition, itch-relieving medications have now been developed that do not contain cortisone.
Take an allergy in your cat seriously. For one thing, the symptoms can diminish their zest for life. On the other hand, accompanying symptoms such as secondary infections of the skin or ears can occur over time, which are caused by bacteria or fungi. This is due to the fact that scratching in certain areas of the body makes the skin more sensitive and therefore more susceptible to further complaints.
This is how a food allergy in cats is determined
An intolerance or allergy to ingredients in the food is detected by feeding the cat a food composed of ingredients that have not previously been part of its diet. This eliminates commonly used meats such as chicken or beef and fish.
Many cats are very sensitive to gluten-containing grains in their food.
The so-called elimination diet usually consists of:
– Ostrich – goat – game – duck and at most one kind of carbohydrates, mostly potatoes. .
You can either prepare the special food yourself or you can get a ready-made allergy diet from your vet. If you have changed your diet, the symptoms should improve or disappear after a certain period of time. If this is not the case, the cat food is probably not responsible for the allergic reactions. Such elimination diets unfortunately put the nerves of people. The cat's stomach faces some challenges. Many cat gourmets simply refuse to eat only one kind of food for several weeks at a time. There are, for the good of the cat, consistency and perseverance are required.
Note: The elimination diet must be followed for at least eight weeks. During this time, you can't feed your cat anything else, as ingredients in treats can also trigger the allergy.
The successful elimination diet is followed by the provocation diet. To do this, you individually mix new ingredients into the special diet food to find out which substances your cat is allergic to.
Important! While it is being checked whether it is a food allergy, your cat should not be allowed to go outside. If they eat something outside, such as a mouse, this can falsify the result. Also it should have no access to food of other cats in your household or from the neighbourhood.
Allergies are not always easy to diagnose and manage. However, there are more and more veterinarians who have trained as specialists in allergies and skin diseases. Look for such a specialist? Here you will find: at the German Society for Veterinary Dermatology.
Among the most common allergies in cats are flea allergies or food allergies. But the velvet paws can also react extremely sensitively to all kinds of other substances in the environment. An exact clarification can make only the veterinary surgeon. Avoidance of all known allergens is helpful. Possibly supportive drug therapy.