Can Cats Have Allergies? Can Cats Be Allergic to People?

Can Cats Have Allergies

People can be allergic to cats, but how about the other way around? Can cats be allergic to people? Or should we just say, can cats have allergies?

Just think about it….what are the possibilities, really?

Can Cats Have Allergies?

People can be allergic to cats, but how about the other way around? Can cats be allergic to people? Or should we just say, can cats have allergies?

Although these questions seem absurd for some, we’re not kidding, these questions have valid grounds. And after doing our research, cats can indeed be indirectly allergic to us, humans.

Well, they may not show an allergic reaction to our presence per se, but they can be allergic to our perfume, our clothes, our cleaning supplies, our dandruff, or our unhealthy habits (Hello, cigarette smoking!).

Just like us, our feline friends can be allergic to a variety of things. But unlike us, they won’t know that they have allergies, and they would definitely not know how to free themselves from these allergens.

As cat parents, we should do everything in our power to keep our cats healthy, even if it means changing our perfume, or not leaving a trace of cigarette smoke near them.

We shouldn’t take cat allergies lightly. Some cats may exhibit mild symptoms, but some can have severe responses that can even be fatal.

It is therefore important to know what possible allergies can our cats have, how to find out if they have one, and how to manage and treat the symptoms before the situation gets worse.

What Are Cat Allergies?

When exposed to something it is allergic to, a cat’s immune system reacts by producing antibodies, even if the substance that caused the allergic reaction doesn’t pose a threat or is not harmful.

Antibodies are released by the body when it senses that something is attacking it, and they are usually useful in fighting off infection.

Immune responses in cats are exhibited during instances when the antibodies are released in response to a certain allergen or substances. And these immune system responses and the symptoms that they manifest are what we call allergies.

Depending on the type of allergy, the symptoms that a cat can experience may vary from mild to severe, irritating to life-threatening.

Can Cats Have Allergies

What Are the Types of Allergies in Cats?

Whether your cats are always indoors or not, they can still be exposed to allergens that could trigger an allergic reaction.

And there are four common types of allergies in cats: contact, inhalant, food, and fleas. Let us unpack each of these types below, and find out how our cats can be affected by any of these allergies.

1. Flea Allergies

Flea allergies are the most common of all the allergies in cats. When a flea bites a cat, it causes allergic reactions that can be really irritating.

What makes it even worse is that the reaction won’t just be seen or felt locally or at the site of the flea bite. The saliva from the flea bite can also affect the entire body.

Excessive grooming or licking, biting, or scratching around the neck, belly, thighs, flanks, and base of the tail are common signs of a flea allergy in cats.

2. Contact Allergies

Contact and inhalant allergies may fall under environmental allergies, but let’s separate the two in this article so we can elaborate further about each type.

Have you ever come in contact with a substance or an item, and then, all of a sudden you develop skin itchiness, irritation, and/or inflammation?

That’s what happens with us humans if we ever have a contact allergy. And it’s nothing different from what our cats can experience. They can also feel the same symptoms as we do.

This may not necessarily be common in cats, but it happens. And contact allergies in cats can be due to a reaction to flea collars, to certain types of beddings such as wool.

Cats can also be allergic to certain surfaces like fabrics, rubbers, or plastics. And cats that are allergic to these surfaces may have a bad experience with plastic food bowls, floor mats, and even beds.

3. Inhalant Allergies

Atopy, also known as inhalant allergy, is the second most common allergy in cats next to flea allergy dermatitis. When a cat with an inhalant allergy inhales a protein to which it is allergic, this causes a reaction leading to skin problems.

Felines with inhalant allergies or seasonal allergies in cats often react to the same allergens that affect humans: grass pollens, tree pollens, weeds, molds, mildew, and dust mites.

However, while humans manifest symptoms like watery eyes and a runny nose, cats respond differently. They often manifest skin inflammation in response to allergens. And that’s why inhalant allergy is also called atopic dermatitis.  

4. Food Allergies

Food allergies are the third most common allergies in cats. And there are a variety of foods that cats can be allergic to but animal proteins such as chicken, beef, fish, dairy, and eggs are the most common causes.

Cats can develop allergies to certain food at any age, and whether or not they’ve been eating that particular food for years, or they’ve just started eating something new.

Cats with a food allergy experience different symptoms from itchy skin, eye, or ear infections, to GI symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and/or increased gassiness.

Some cats may respond well with hypoallergenic cat foods that are available over-the-counter, but some may need more strictly regulated foods that can only be bought from a local veterinarian.  

Can Cats Have Allergies

The Causes of Cat Allergies

The causes or triggers of cat allergies can range from pollens, foods, medications, fleas to cleaning products, perfume, smoke, plastic food bowls, and other surfaces like fabrics and rubbers.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Cat Allergies

Depending on the type of cat allergy, cats can manifest different behaviors, and allergy symptoms, such as the following:

  • Sneezing, coughing, and wheezing
  • Itchy, runny eyes or nose
  • Hair loss
  • Difficulty of breathing
  • Skin redness or irritation
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Ear infections
  • Snoring
  • Excessive licking (grooming)
  • Chewing at paws or tail
  • Scratching
  • Swollen, or sensitive paws

How Are Feline Allergies Diagnosed?

Determining the culprit behind a cat’s allergic reactions can be difficult. You may need to resort to elimination diets or exclusion trials with different household cleaning products, medications, food dishes, beds to figure out what causes the allergic reaction if it isn’t that obvious.

The vet will also have a thorough review of your cat’s medical history and complete a comprehensive physical exam. You may also expect to be asked about your cleaning routines and be interrogated about the possible environmental factors that can play a role in your cat’s allergies.

The veterinarian can also run a skin test or blood test to determine what’s causing the allergic reaction. For the blood test, the vet will take a blood sample from your cat and send it to the laboratory for evaluation.

For the skin test, the vet will inject something under your cat’s skin. A positive allergic reaction to a certain substance can be manifested with the presence of a hive on their body.

There isn’t a better test among the two, and sometimes the vet can also do both to gain a better understanding of what’s causing your cat’s symptoms. Once the vet determines what’s causing the allergic reactions, he can then proceed with the appropriate treatment plan with your consent, of course.

Can Cats Have Allergies? Can Cats Be Allergic to People? 1

When to Bring Your Cat to the Vet?

If you suspect that your cat has allergies, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian right away. Remember that identifying the root cause is important before the condition can be treated.

And considering the many causes of cat allergies, as well as the many other possible reasons for your cat’s symptoms, a trip to the vet should be your best option.

How to Prevent Cat Allergies?

As always prevention is better than cure. So, if you are concerned that your cat may develop allergies in the future, it’s best to prevent it from happening in the first place.

We’ve already talked about the different causes and types of cat allergies, so, it shouldn’t be that difficult already to identify the ways to prevent allergies in cats. Nevertheless, below are some preventive measures that you can do:

  • Always keep the surroundings of your cats clean, including their beddings.
  • Use dust-free and unscented cat litter.
  • Avoid using strong perfume.
  • Don’t smoke inside the house.
  • Use regular veterinarian-approved tick and flea prevention products.
  • Avoid using plastic bowls. Instead, use ceramic or metal food and water bowls. And make sure to always clean the bowls because the bacteria-laden slime that can form under the bowl can also cause chin acne.
  • Bathe your cat, or at least wipe your cat with a damp cloth to remove the pollens on his fur.
  • Provide your cat with a healthy and well-balanced diet.

Also read: Can Cats Take Benadryl?

Treatments for Cat Allergies

The treatment for your cat’s allergies may vary depending on the type and causes that trigger the allergic reactions. Like what was mentioned earlier, eliminating the things that can provoke the allergies is best in treating the condition, but it’s not always possible.

Nevertheless, minimizing your cat’s exposure to allergens will definitely help. As such, in times when certain allergens are at their peak, it’s best to keep your cats indoors and to close your windows or doors at all times.

You may also want to use an air-conditioner and/or air filter during problematic times to limit your cat’s exposure to pollen or other allergens.

In some cases, your vet may have to prescribe a daily prescription or dietary supplements. And depending on the severity of the symptoms, your cat may also have to take long-term medications or allergy treatments, or therapies under your vet’s advice and/or supervision.

image of a veterinarian with cat and pills

Feline Allergy Medications

Cat allergies may be treated by several medications. However, though you may have a good intention, you should never self-medicate your cats without seeking professional advice from your veterinarian.

Also, while, you may know some allergy medications that are effective for humans, for your cat’s safety, never administer any human drugs to your cats without your vet’s go signal.

It’s also a big “No,” to use canine flea medications for your cats since these can just make your cat even sicker.

And for your reference, below are some of the most common allergy medications that your vet may prescribe for your cat:

  • Antihistamines
  • Cortisone pills (itch medicine)
  • Lotions, ointments, ear drops, or eye drops
  • Flea prevention products

Drug allergies are rare in cats, but they can still have an adverse reaction to certain medications without warning. As such, it’s important to be always alert. Observe your cats closely for their reaction, especially to new medications.

Symptoms of drug allergies may vary but can include hives, fever, itching, fever, vomiting, hair loss (topical products), and in severe cases anaphylaxis, which can cause seizures, difficulty of breathing, and even death.

Call your veterinarian immediately, or better yet go to his clinic right away if your cat is reacting poorly to a medication or if you noticed any of the symptoms that indicate an allergic reaction.

Can Cats Have Allergies? Can Cats Be Allergic to People? 2

Are Cat Allergies and Cat Asthma Related?

Asthma is more common in cats than in dogs, and cats with asthma are more likely to develop cat allergies. It’s also highly possible that cats can have both conditions.

As an urgent response, if it does happen, your vet may prescribe a medication to help your cat’s airway to open temporarily. If needed, long-term treatments for your cat’s asthma may include medications such as corticosteroids.

Winning over the allergens that cause your cat’s allergies may be difficult, especially at the start when you have no idea what it is exactly that causes the symptoms.

With the help of your veterinarian alongside your patience and unconditional love for your feline companion, it won’t take long enough before you can finally identify the source of your cat’s allergies.  

And before you know it, both of you are already breathing in sighs of relief and under the comfort of each other’s loving embrace.

Does Your Cat Have Allergies?

Felines can develop three main types of allergies: environmental, food, and flea allergies. Substances that make up these allergen categories include: Organic substances such as pollen, grass, plants, mold, and mildew.

Can cats have seasonal allergies?

Unlike humans who usually experience respiratory issues, seasonal allergies typically manifest as a condition known as atopic dermatitis in felines. Your cat will likely not develop a runny nose, itchy eyes and watery sinuses like you would. Instead, you may see signs of allergies on the skin or coat.

Why is my cat sneezing a lot?

Sneezing is a common symptom of upper respiratory infections (URIs) in cats. Often referred to as the “common cold” or the “cat flu”, upper respiratory infections can be viral, bacterial and even fungal, although that's less common.

Do cats get allergies in their eyes?

While cats don't generally suffer from the type of allergies that result in itchy, watery eyes, irritants in their environment can produce a similar effect. Causes: For cats, eye irritants can include strong fragrances, such as perfume, cleaning chemicals, tobacco smoke and dust.

  • April 26, 2021
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.

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