If your cat has allergies, here are some expert tips for helping them survive allergy season.
Monitor the pollen count: Dr Drew Weigner, a feline veterinary specialist and owner of The Cat Doctor in Atlanta, notices more clients seeking relief for their feline friends when the high pollen count rises. But he adds that few cats actually suffer from seasonal allergies; they simply sneeze more due to physical irritation from pollen. If you notice excessive sneezing, monitor the allergy forecast in your area and keep cats inside when pollen piles up outside.
To reduce the amount of pollen tracked into your home, remove shoes at the door or invest in a thick welcome mat.
Watch for allergy symptoms: If your cat does suffer from allergies, it won’t be much of a secret. Dr Weigner said that itchy cats typically get skin conditions due to the release of an immunoglobulin called IgE. It’s found in certain cells that are more common in cats’ skin.
As a result, Dr William Carlson of InTown Animal Hospital in Atlanta said cats with allergies typically show signs of hair loss, as well as scabs or open sores. Discharge in the ears or excessive scratching also are common symptoms.
Don’t raid the medicine cabinet: Resist the urge to sneak a few Benadryl capsules into your cat’s kibble. While certain antihistamines may be used to treat cats with allergic skin disease, Carlson warned that pet owners should never give a cat medication without consulting a veterinarian first.
“Each patient is different and medications are determined on an individual basis based on a physical exam,” Weigner said. If your cat has serious allergy symptoms, call the vet. You’re better off safe than sorry.
Topical solutions provide limited relief: Carlson said soap-free allergy shampoo and cool water can relieve symptoms by reducing pollen and mold spore counts on the cat’s skin. But that means getting a cat into a tub, which may be the hardest task of all.
Cat allergy treatment can be costly: Regular steroid injections safely relieve symptoms for cats with allergies, said Weigner. But he noted that potentially serious side effects make this option the least desirable form of treatment.
Instead, cats with extreme allergy symptoms typically get referred to a veterinary dermatologist. Determining the root cause of skin allergies requires a process of elimination using a blood test or an intradermal skin test, which involves injecting potential allergens such as mold or pollen under a cat’s skin. It sounds painful, but this test involves sedation and lasts only a few hours. Once an allergen has been determined, your veterinarian can decide on a treatment plan.
Maintain monthly flea and tick treatment: While pollen can be a pain, Carlson said that exposure to flea saliva is the primary cause for allergic reactions among cats. Consider spring and summer prime biting season for fleas, and take action.
Combing your cat frequently and treating your home for fleas on a regular basis will help, Carlson said.
Add a little omega-3: Omega-3 fatty acid supplements keep the normal immune barrier of the skin healthy and reduce secondary infections, Carlson said. Cats won’t mind getting their omega-3 in the form of coldwater.