1/3 of the planet population suffers from various kinds of allergies! No wonder the disease is popular among pets also – allergy in cats is one of the main reasons for visiting vet clinics. How to help your pet having detected allergy symptoms and whether it is possible to defeat the ailment?
What is an allergy?
The immune system protects the body from the negative effects of the environment. Dangerous substances introduced into the body are attacked by counterparties sent by the vigilant immune to combat potentially harmful particles. Scientists haven’t found the reasons for that, but sometimes the immune system exhibits excessive zeal, “attacking” harmless substance. Such excessive reaction and its results lead to the development of allergies. Do cats suffer from allergies? Yes, as all warm-blooded animals. Moreover, the mechanisms of the emergence and development of the disease in cats and humans are mostly similar, as are the principles of treatment. However, it is important to remember that cats don’t react on many medications the same way as people do, so it is forbidden to give your cat a symptomatic drug used for treating allergies in humans.
Common types of allergies in cats
An allergen can be anything other than distilled water, and therefore sometimes it is very difficult to determine the type of the disease.
Food allergy in cats is a reaction to a food product. Most often it is chocolate, red fruits and vegetables, dairy products, corn, eggs, beef, poultry. The symptoms are often the result of “accumulative” allergy to a certain kind of protein. For example, an allergy to chicken occurs in cats quite often not because poultry is a strong allergen, but for the reason that pets are overfed with chicken having no other sources of protein. When feeding a cat with low quality feed the similar problem arises: in order to save costs manufacturers add only one kind of meat to the feed, i.e. the one source of protein. In addition, corn and a large number of vegetable pulp of unknown origin are usually added in most of cheap cat feeds.
Flea allergy in cats is a reaction to the saliva and other secretions of insects. Besides fleas, among allergens there are mites, lice and even ordinary mosquitoes. Absence of parasites in the coat says nothing – just one bite is enough for allergy to manifest itself.
Respiratory and contact allergy is a reaction to dust, pollen, detergents, chemicals, cosmetics, cat litter etc. It is enough to breathe in an allergen or to spill a little powder on the paw to activate the immunity alarm.
Unfortunately, the signs of allergy in cats are hardly dependent on the type of allergen. Food allergies in cats can manifest itself in the same way as an allergy to the tick saliva:
- severe itching, often localized in the head and neck area, abdomen, inner thighs or at the place of bite;
- skin rashes of various kinds, from mild redness to purulent pustules;
- hair loss;
- clear discharge from the nose, sneezing;
- tearing, redness of the eyes;
- With the respiratory system there may be wheezing, difficulty in swallowing, throat swelling, salivation, bronchospasm and asthma attacks. In this case require immediate veterinary care!
If allergy symptoms include itchy rash, you need to monitor the behavior of your pet very carefully. Scratching itchy areas on the skin the cat leaves scratches through which pathogenic bacteria and fungi may penetrate into the body. The wounds inflame turning into ulcers. Based on laboratory studies (scraping) a veterinarian may diagnose bacterial dermatitis or something else. As a result the pet gets treatments, but drugs are ineffective, since the reason may be not obvious because of dermatitis manifestations.
Diagnosis and treatment of disease
Before treating allergies in cats, you need to make sure that it is allergy indeed. This is extremely important, since allergy symptoms are similar to symptoms of other diseases, including viral infections and many other dangerous diseases. To speed up the diagnosis, you should provide the veterinarian with comprehensive information:
- When you noticed the first symptoms?
- What you feed your cat with?
- Was the cat treated to a new product?
- Does the cat eat house plants?
- Could the cat get the medications?
- Were any new detergents used?
- Was the cat bathed with a new shampoo;
- Have you given your pet any treatment with drugs for cats?
It is important to remember all the details. Of course, the most banal symptoms of allergies in cats are caused by chicken or insect bites. However, even a new perfume of the owner or a new flower on the windowsill may cause an allergic reaction.
Based on this information and on the results of general examination the veterinarian will diagnose and prescribe symptomatic treatment – antihistamines and/or steroids. For allergen detection the cat should undergo a blood test, sometimes more than once. Contact with the allergen should be interrupted as soon as possible.
If it's a food allergy in cats a special diet is appointed. Typically, this is one kind of protein unfamiliar for cat (lean lamb or rabbit), rice, a little olive oil and vitamins. All other foods are completely eliminated. You can use ready-made therapeutic diets that consist of hydrolyzed components only. Such feeds are partially “digested” during processing, so the proteins contained in the feed, are split to the state of safe, non-allergenic substances. A few weeks later, when the symptoms disappear completely, you may add usual cat food in the diet, one type per week. If the reaction appears – the allergen is identified.
If it is a contact allergy, it is much more difficult to find the “aggressor”. The easiest option is to remove to an inaccessible place anything that may cause symptoms (makeup, powders, chemicals, etc.). Whether to treat allergies in cats or not – is up to the vet, it should be decided after the examination of the animal, but until the allergen is identified, the relapse is inevitable. Allergic tests in this situation are often useless because of countless potential allergens. However, tests still may bring results because there is a chance that laboratory will “hit the top ten” from the first time.
Allergic to insect bites almost always reveals after the first blood test, and the treatment includes removing the symptoms and prevention. Drops, sprays or collars – it doesn’t matter. The main thing is that selected medication not only destroyed the parasites, but also had a repellent effect.
Allergy is a serious disease! You shouldn’t ignore the symptoms, even if they seem minor. Ear itching may lead to chronic inflammation of the middle ear that takes many years to be treated.