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Cat Skin Allergies & Conditions

A skin allergy can make your cat uncomfortable, itchy, and irritable. Today, our Vancouver vets share the facts about how allergic reactions can be triggered - and what to do if you notice itching, redness, or other symptoms impacting your feline friend.

Skin Allergies in Cats

Cats or more than capable of suffering from skin diseases caused by allergies. Cat skin allergies can cause intense itching and pain in cats.

determining the source of the allergy is critical to helping your cat’s skin heal and relieving their discomfort. Once the source of the allergy is found, it is important to continue to manage your cat’s allergy to help prevent the skin irritation from returning.

What Causes Skin Allergies in Cats?

Cat skin allergies are commonly due to one of these three triggers:

Environmental Allergens

These types of allergens - including dust, mold, dander, and pollen - can cause atopic allergic reactions or atopic dermatitis. It can also be frustrating to deal with seasonal allergies, as your cat may only be affected during certain seasons or times of the year.

Examine your cat carefully (especially around the paws, eyes, nose, and mouth) for clues as to what they have been in contact with that could be causing their allergies.

Cat Food Allergies

Food allergies or sensitivities may be causing your pet's itchy skin. Watch for scratching at their ears or paws, along with potential gastrointestinal symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, or both.

Symptoms can range from itchiness and chronic infections in the foot or ear to diarrhea and vomiting. True food allergies trigger an autoimmune response that may cause skin conditions such as hives and swelling.

Food sensitivities (intolerances) and food allergies are different, and it's important to distinguish between the two. Unlike food allergies, food sensitivities cause gradual reactions to specific ingredients such as wheat, milk, beef, or chicken.

The most common food allergies cats have are in chicken and fish as it is the protein that triggers an allergic reaction.

Cat Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Some cats will have an allergic reaction to a flea's saliva, which can trigger flea allergy dermatitis and cause your kitty's skin to become extremely itchy. You might notice red, inflamed, and/or scabbed areas developing on the skin. Other signs of flea infections include flea dirt (feces). You may occasionally see fleas themselves.

Cats who live exclusively indoors are just as susceptible to fleas as cats who frequently go outside since fleas can live anywhere in the environment.

If you are currently using flea prevention measures on your cat and your veterinarian can’t detect any sign of fleas, that would suggest that your cat has an allergy to a food or something in the environment.

Symptoms of Skin Allergies in Cats

As mentioned above, skin allergies can cause a range of symptoms. These can include:

  • Excessive scratching
  • Excessive licking
  • Hair loss
  • Red, irritated or flakey skin
  • Biting or chewing the skin
  • Sores
  • Rubbing of ears or face

With severe skin allergies in cats, they’re not only dealing with the discomfort and itching of the allergic reaction but the risk of secondary infection. As your cat scratches, licks, and bites at their skin due to the itching, there’s a possibility that yeast and bacterial infection can enter through sores. These may require further treatment.

How to Treat a Cat's Skin Allergies

Reducing inflammation and soothing the itch are the main priorities when treating cat skin allergies.

All cats that suffer from allergic skin disease are very itchy. At the first visit, your vet may prescribe corticosteroids, such as prednisone, to relieve the itch and inflammation of the skin.

For all skin diseases, simply bathing your cat can help to reduce inflammation and soothe their skin. Since most cats don’t like baths, you may want to try a product like a mousse or a dry shampoo for cats that can clean your cat while avoiding water.

Many cats also suffer from secondary bacterial infections due to scratching, so they may require antibiotics to treat the infection. Your veterinarian may also recommend putting an Elizabethan collar on your cat to prevent them from further scratching or overgrooming.

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.

Do you think your cat may have a skin allergy? Contact our Vancouver vets today. We can provide dermatological treatment to address skin, coat, ear, and nail conditions in cats and dogs.

We Welcome New Patients

Columbia River Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients by referral and for emergency services. Our experienced emergency vets  and specialists are passionate about the health of Vancouver companion animals. Ask your vet today about a referral.

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