What are the most common cat allergies? I believe that you can break this topic down to food allergies, feline miliary dermatitis, irritant contact and allergic contact dermatitis and inhalant allergies. I believe that allergies in cats is a major issue and a hard one to resolve. There are too many cats suffering with allergies. I also believe that cat owners should be switched on to this health risk as it causes a lot of misery in cats. One issue might be a reluctance to take a cat to the vet because of the potential high expense of finding the allergen.
Cats can become allergic to certain foods or ingredients in foods. The most common food allergies are soy, wheat, corn, fish, and chicken. They may also develop an allergy to eggs, dairy products, pork or beef. The symptoms of this allergy would include an intensely itchy rash which often develops on the back, head, and neck. The eyelids may become swollen. There may be hair loss and sores which may oose due to constant scratching. Sometimes cat food allergies affect the ear flaps only. I can remember my mother having a Siamese cat many, many years ago and looking back now I would have concluded – if I had had the knowledge at the time that I have today – that she was suffering from a food allergy. The ears become red and inflamed and there may be a discharge. Sometimes food allergies create vomiting or diarrhoea.
RELATED: Cat Food Allergy Symptoms
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an immune-mediated reaction of the gastrointestinal system to food, parasite antigens or bacteria.
Feline miliary dermatitis
This is a skin disease and it is caused by an allergic skin reaction to a range of possible allergens which include: lice, mites, mosquitoes and flea bites. It may also be brought on by reactions to drugs, autoimmune diseases, hormonal imbalances, nutritional disturbances and fungal skin infections. Small bumps and crusts occur along the back and around the head and neck. There may be itching. The flea bite allergy is the most common cause of this disease. Other skin parasites can also cause it, as mentioned.
The skin becomes very itchy. The cat scratches creating raw patches. Some cats are unaffected but others can break out with the dermatitis on a single bite once or twice a week. It happens most often in the summer but if there are fleas in the home it may persist year-round. The existence of this dermatitis can be detected if there is a combination of fleas on the cat and a skin rash. You can check for fleas with a flea comb or simply brush your cat over some white paper see whether the fleas or their faeces fall out onto the paper (check the base of the tail which is where feces reside). The veterinarian will conduct an intradermal skin test to confirm the diagnosis (see below). After the fleas have been removed the condition persists.
Irritant contact and allergic contact dermatitis
These produce similar reactions. And they are caused by contact with alkaline and acid chemicals, soaps, detergents, solvents, and petroleum by-products. Flea powders, shampoos, poison oak, poison ivy, wool and synthetic fibres, plastic, leather, rubber food and water dishes and dyes in carpets can cause an allergic reaction. A chemical in many topical medications, neomycin, can also cause an allergic reaction as can other drugs and medications.
Sometimes you see a terrible allergic reaction to flea collars which is a reaction to the insecticide inside them. It causes the loss of hair and great inflammation and itchiness where the collar makes contact with the skin.
Some cats suffer from litter box dermatitis caused by the cat litter or an additive to it. This effects the feet, anus, and the area around the tail.
Contact dermatitis reactions are caused by direct contact with the chemical whereas for allergic contact dermatitis there is repeated contact which sensitises the skin resulting in an allergic response when there is subsequent exposure.
In general, symptoms are inflammation of the skin and itchy bumps. The hair falls out. The cat scratches the skin causing injury and infected sores.
Atopic dermatitis which is inhaling an allergen causing an allergic reaction
The cat breathes in allergens such as molds, house dust, pollens et cetera. It may be seasonal. Symptoms vary. It might include itching on the head and neck. There might be a rash along the back and the neck. There may be symmetrical baldness over the body caused by excessive grooming by the cat because of the irritation.
It is difficult to differentiate atopic dermatitis from other skin disorders caused by for example, food hypersensitivity or insect bites. A veterinarian will conduct an intradermal skin test. This is a test in which the veterinarian injects very small amounts of different allergens into the top layers
of the skin called the dermis to check for the reaction. They can then hopefully isolate the allergen. This a difficult diagnostic procedure I believe. I am not a vet please note.