Cat Skin Allergies

Cat Skin Allergies

It is estimated that there are more than 500 million domestic cats in the world; 38 million in the United States alone. As common as these cats, are the allergies that they suffer from. In this Buzzle article, we will shed some light on skin allergies that affect cats.
When allergens come in contact with or enter the cat's body, its immune system produces a protein called IgE. This protein attaches itself to 'tissue mast cells' in the skin and triggers the release of histamine and other such chemicals, which cause rashes and itching.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis: It is caused due to the sensitiveness to the saliva of fleas. When these blood-sucking creatures bite cats, they leave behind their saliva; it is this saliva which triggers allergy in cats. Additionally, this disease can lead to secondary infections as well.

Symptoms
  • Severe itching
  • Hot spots on hips or face
  • Chewing and biting of tail and legs
  • Lesions, oozing from chewing
  • Severe skin damage due to scratching
Treatment
  • The removal of fleas from your cat's surroundings is the first thing that you need to initiate. However, make sure that the spray control, which you are using for eradication of fleas, is not harmful to your cat's health. Frequent vacuuming and carpet cleaning will ensure the removal of flea eggs from surroundings.
  • See your veterinarian promptly if your cat has developed secondary skin infections and lesions. Antifungal and antibiotic drugs may be necessary for their treatment.
  • If your cat is feeling intensely itchy and very uncomfortable, a short course of steroid may be required to break the itching cycle.
Inhalant/Contact Allergies: It is an allergy caused by inhaling or absorbing allergens like pollen, dander, etc. It produces allergic dermatitis or atopy, which is an inflammatory, non-contagious disease. It may also lead to pruritus, i.e., intense, chronic itching in the anal region.

Symptoms
  • Mutilated skin
  • Excessive hair loss
  • 'Twitchy' skin
  • Pulling out tufts of hair
  • Red, long lesions
  • Eosinophilic plaques
  • Crusty papules
Treatment
  • In this type of allergy, no special treatment is required. If your cat is allergic to a pollen of a seasonal tree, it will recover within 3 to 4 days.
  • You need to take some simple, but very important precautions, like keeping the cat away during vacuuming, keeping it in uncarpeted rooms, washing its beds regularly, NOT keeping it in basements, using an air-conditioner, avoiding stuffed toys and dusty pet food, and limiting the number of plants near the house.
  • Topical therapy involves cleaning your cat with a shampoo and applying topical anti-itch solutions. This will give your cat an instant, but short-term relief.
  • Visit the veterinarian if secondary and bacterial infections have developed.
Food Allergies: One should learn to differentiate between food allergies and food intolerance. While food allergy is characterized by symptoms like itching and skin problems, food intolerance has symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea associated with it. Research shows that fish, dairy products, and beef are the most common offenders in this case. Though all proteins are similar, there are some which are more antigenic than others. Allergic reactions may be associated with the amount of exposure to proteins.

Symptoms
  • Itchy skin
  • Miliary dermatitis
  • Hair loss
  • Scratchy skin
The symptoms of food allergies are present for the whole year and mostly start appearing in winter, which is not the case with other allergies.

Treatment
  • Once the condition is correctly diagnosed, the treatment is very simple. You can either choose special cat food available in the market or plan a diet yourself.
  • In case, you choose the latter, you can eliminate the food items from the cat's diet one by one in order to determine the 'culprit'. For instance, feed it chicken and vegetables for two weeks and see if there are any symptoms of allergy. If not, then feed it beef for two weeks and check for symptoms. If the symptoms are visible, it is safe to assume that your cat is allergic to beef. Now just remove beef from your cat's diet. Also make sure that the diet is balanced, with the right proportion of vitamins and minerals.
Most people don't take these allergies seriously, which is a big mistake. While the allergy in itself might not be fatal, the complications developed because of it may lead to fatality. Taking that into account, it is necessary to subject your pet cat to proper care ... for the sake of its health.
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