Like their humans, cats can experience the discomfort of itchy and irritating skin allergies. If your cat is itching and scratching uncontrollably, it's time for a trip to the vet. Today, our Newtown vets explain the causes of cat skin allergies and what you can do to help your cat feel better.
Signs your cat may have skin allergies
Usually, your feline friend's skin should be soft and smooth when you pet them. If your cat is exhibiting signs of a skin allergy or other dermatological condition, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Oily skin
- Skin that is dry, flaky, or scaly
- Bald patches, hair loss
- Red patches
- Spots or pimples
- Skin odor
If you notice any of the above symptoms in your cat, it's time to take them to your vet to have the cause of their unhealthy skin diagnosed by a professional.
Causes of skin allergies in cats
Skin problems in cats are common, but many of the troublesome and uncomfortable skin problems that we see are actually due to factors such as parasites (fleas, lice, mites), hormonal imbalances, or bacterial infections rather than allergies.
When cats do suffer from skin allergies they can be caused by a reaction to almost anything, but common allergens include flea bites, specific cat food ingredients, or environmental factors like dust, pollen, or mold.
Diagnosing skin allergies in cats
Firstly, your vet will look for other causes of your pet's skin issue, including fungal infections or parasites. Once your vet has ruled out other conditions, they will begin the process of determining the allergen that is affecting your cat's health.
Cat skin allergies are often caused by flea bites. Your vet will examine your kitty's coat and skin to look for signs of fleas, which are typically easy to spot with the naked eye. If fleas aren't the cause of your cat's allergies your vet will gather information about your cat's diet.
Dietary allergies in cats can be tricky to diagnose and require a process of elimination and reintroduction of foods.
Your vet will prescribe a diet for your cat that has been formulated without many of the food allergens that affect cats. You will also need to refrain from feeding your kitty any treats that they normally enjoy. During the elimination period, it is essential to follow your vet's instructions precisely.
After a number of weeks on the elimination diet, if your cat's skin has cleared up, your vet may ask you to begin feeding your cat their original diet once again to see if the symptoms return. If your cat's symptoms reappear then your cat is clearly sensitive or allergic to an ingredient in their original food.
Other Environmental Factors
If the elimination diet is unsuccessful at clearing up your kitty's skin then another environmental factor is likely to be the cause and further investigation into your cat's lifestyle will be required.
Treating cat skin allergies
Cat skin allergies that are a result of fleas or other parasites will be treated with appropriate medications which could include shampoos or topical treatments.
If your cat's skin allergy is due to a food sensitivity your vet will prescribe an allergen-free food for your cat or make other dietary recommendations. It is essential to continue feeding your kitty a diet that meets all of their nutritional needs while addressing their allergies.
Many foods formulated specifically for cats with allergies have specially selected protein and carbohydrates that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. These foods may also contain ingredients to help soothe your cat's skin such as omega 3 long-chain fatty acids to help fight inflammation, and biotin, niacin and pantothenic acids to prevent dryness and protect against external irritants.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.