Did you know that cats as well as dogs can have allergies? Allergies in cats are less common, and your feline friend might also mask his or her symptoms really well. Read on for some signs that your cat may have allergies!
- The first sign of allergies in cats is excessive grooming. A normal, healthy cat should only groom two to three times a day for less than five minutes. If you notice your cat is grooming a lot more than that, he or she may have allergies and is experiencing itchiness or discomfort.
- Hair loss, mostly on the abdomen or sides of the body, can also indicate an allergy.
- If the skin looks abnormal in any way (red or irritated) or the ears contain debris or are itchy, you may also need to see a veterinary dermatologist. A cat with itchy ears may scratch at them or shake its head.
A typical first visit with our veterinary dermatologist, Dr. Melissa Eisenschenk, would consist of a thorough history. The answers to certain questions help her determine whether your pet might be suffering from a food allergy or an environmental allergy and what steps should be taken to resolve the problem.
If the evidence suggests that your cat’s food may be the culprit, your cat might be placed on a strict six to eight week food trial. If his or her skin improves while on the food trial, he or she would likely stay on that food long-term, thereby controlling the allergy symptoms.
If the food trial doesn’t successfully control the cat’s symptoms, your cat might be suffering from an environmental allergy. Allergy testing is not common in cats as they don’t tolerate allergy shots well. It tends to be less stressful to treat cats with a safe long-term, non-steroidal medication.
Sometimes, all the scratching with sharp claws can cause a secondary bacterial infection in your cat’s skin. Dr. Eisenschenk might take a skin sample in order to look for can look for one on a skin sample. Lastly, skin scrapings allow us to find microscopic skin mites that could also be the cause of your cat’s skin problems. But don’t worry! Both infections and mites can be treated successfully with medications.
Dr. Eisenschenk enjoys working closely with owners to perform the best diagnostic tests, formulate a tailored therapy to manage the particular issue, and resolve it. Her goal is to help you get your cat’s skin looking (and feeling!) as good as possible.