Did You Know That Cats Get Allergies Too?

We most commonly hear about the allergies that cats cause in humans. Well, you might be surprised to know that cats can also suffer from allergies. The good news is, if your cat is displaying allergic symptoms there are many things you can do to help them.

Firstly, let’s take a closer look at allergies and how their symptoms can manifest in cats.

An allergy, also known as a hypersensitivity reaction or hypersensitive response, is an abnormal immune response to a foreign substance in the body, known as an antigen. When the immune system detects this antigen, it releases histamines to fight off the foreign substance, which it has deemed a threat, even when the substance is harmless.

The histamines trigger an inflammatory response, which manifests itself as symptoms. So, managing the symptoms effectively means reducing or eliminating the inflammatory response.

Most of the time the immune system will react to something absolutely safe like pollen or protein. Other times the reaction is warranted when the immune system is trying to defend your kitty in response to an insect bite, parasites, toxic chemicals, etc.

Allergies in cats can be caused by a number of factors. Allergic reactions can be triggered by a number of things including food, fleas and various environmental factors like mould, tree, grass or flower pollen, fungi and dust mites.

Food allergies are very common in cats. Cats are curious hunters and will try to capture, play with and then eat anything that invades their territory like spiders, mosquitos, ants or cockroaches.

Sometimes, your cat will develop an allergy to an ingredient or nutrient in their regular food, usually a protein or carbohydrate. In this case, the hypersensitive response will usually manifest after prolonged use of one brand, type or form of food. Common food allergens for cats include beef, chicken, seafood, meat byproducts (protein filler in inexpensive grocery food brands), soy, corn and dairy products as well as food colourants and preservatives.

Some common symptoms that indicate your cat might be suffering from an allergy can include the following:

  • Shaking and tilting their head due to an ear infection
  • Your cat seems itchy and scratching more than usual
  • Red, inflamed patches of skin
  • Increased shedding
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing, snorting
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Snoring (inflamed throat)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Swollen paws
  • Changes in fur texture: brittle or coarse fur

What can you do to help your feline friend?

As with humans, the first step is to determine what is causing the allergy. If you can locate the cause, you can hopefully eliminate the problem by simply removing the pro-inflammatory antigen that their immune system is hypersensitive to.

Often, it’s impossible to tell if the symptoms you are observing are indeed triggered by some allergy as a number of other health issues can show exactly the same symptoms. Therefore, the best way to get to the bottom of the issue is to see a vet and have them properly test and diagnose your cat to determine the cause of symptoms.

If the symptoms don’t go away after 2 days, it’s best to take your cat to a vet., who will help determine the best treatment whether it be prescription medication, OTC antihistamines or topical solutions.

In-Home Care

If you have an outdoor-loving cat, it’s best to try to keep them in the house when there is a lot of pollen in the air. Local AusPollen apps provide information on daily levels of pollen in the air at www.pollenforecast.com.au.

If your cat allows you, try to wipe their paws and fur with hypoallergenic pet wipes, when they come into the house.

Regular vacuuming and cleaning your home and your cat’s bedding and toys should also help with allergies.

If your cat is allergic to something in their regular food, change to a hypoallergenic diet. Ask your vet to help you find the right solution for your budget.

Anti-inflammatory dietary supplements can also help to support your cat’s immune system to help regulate and reduce hypersensitivity.

Two great anti-inflammatory supplements are hemp seed oil and fish oil. Both are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids — Omega-3 and Omega-6. The ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 in hemp seed oil is at 3:1, which is considered to be the ideal ratio for a healthy immune response. Hemp seed oil is also rich in vitamin E (anti-oxidant) and essential minerals Zinc and Magnesium — both play a critical role in DNA repair, cell growth and effective functioning of the immune system. Fish oil has its own perks, offering a higher content of Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and vitamin A.

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose one or the other because we made a delicious blend of two — BUDDYPET Luna, where hemp seed oil and fish oil work together to support your kitty’s immune system and help reduce the hypersensitivity to allergens.

More information about the benefits of hemp seed oil is in our article Hemp Seed Oil Benefits.

In case of chronic, frequently recurring allergies with symptoms that make your cat’s life extremely uncomfortable, talk to your vet about a hemp CBD product.

To date, a growing body of evidence supports the use of CBD oil for modulating anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, with chronic inflammation and pain being the most widely cited condition.

Unlike hemp seed oil that’s derived from the seeds of the hemp plant, CBD oil is a botanical extract derived from the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant.

As hemp CBD oil is a natural anti-inflammatory agent for chronic inflammation, it helps the immune system to fight inflammation, thus reducing hypersensitivity to antigens that can provoke an allergic reaction.

If hemp seed oil is a food product and safe to use daily as a dietary supplement, hemp CBD oil is more of a medication product and one should be very careful with the dosage, which your vet can help you determine based on your cat’s weight and the severity of the allergy condition.

For more information about the health benefits of hemp CBD oil, please read our Ultimate Guide to CBD Oil for Pets.

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Dr. Ailsa Rutherford

Dr. Ailsa Rutherford

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Senior practicing veterinarian. Member of the Australia and New Zealand College of Veterinary Surgeons in Emergency. Head of Animal Health at Buddy Pet P/L.