How do allergies impact the health and well-being of my cats?

There are a few different types of allergies that cats can get. They can get respiratory allergies, just like humans, where they get weepy, watery eyes, the sneezes, sometimes the coughs. They can get digestive allergies, where it affects their stomach, intestines, and colon, impacting their ability to metabolize food. They can also get skin allergies from fleas and mites, which can cause secondary infection and inflammation. So they've got multiple different areas that can be affected by allergies.

Dr. Brittany Bueter
Hebron Animal Hospital

Why is it important to avoid self-diagnosing allergies in my cat and see a veterinarian?

Honestly, the most important part is because a lot of things can present like allergies but aren't actually allergies. For instance, if you have a coughing cat, that could be asthma or heart issues, not allergies. If your cat has diarrhea, it might be food allergies, or if your cat is pulling out its hair, it may not be allergies but something called barbering, which can stem from pain or anxiety. So, a lot of the symptoms you see that you think are allergies may not actually be that.

How will you diagnose whether or not my cat has allergies?

We use the owner's history along with our physical exam findings. For a cat with respiratory issues like watery eyes, sneezing, or coughing, we can rule out asthma by the way their lungs sound and heart issues by the way their heart sounds. For digestive issues, we can rule out inflammatory bowel disease or parasites through palpation and sometimes blood work. For skin issues, we can rule out fleas and mites by doing skin scrapes or visual exams. It’s about putting those puzzle pieces together.

What type of treatments can be used to relieve the symptoms?

As long as we know for sure that allergies are the cause, many treatments involve environmental changes. If your cat has respiratory issues in the spring, keeping windows shut and doors closed can help. Over-the-counter antihistamines can be used, but they don't tend to work very well in cats, and dosing is different for cats than humans. Always get a recommendation from your veterinarian first. For dietary issues, there are different dietary options if we find a true food allergy. Reducing aerosols, candles, fragrances, and plug-ins in the house can also help mitigate allergy responses.

If you have any other questions, please give us a call at (859) 349-1020. You can also email us at [email protected] and we will get back to you as soon as we are able. Don't forget to follow us on social media: Facebook and Instagram