Can Cats Have Seasonal Allergies?
When you think about cats and allergies, you probably think of them mostly as culprits. You’ve probably met “dog people” whose allergy symptoms helped determine their pet preferences. Maybe you’ve had to steer clear of cats yourself to avoid an unpleasant reaction.
Before you judge our feline friends too harshly, remember that they can suffer from allergies too. They’re often particularly vulnerable during “allergy seasons,” times of year when pollen and other irritants are prevalent.
Signs of Feline Seasonal Allergies
Human allergy sufferers tend to associate seasonal irritation with respiratory symptoms like sneezing and watery eyes. For cats, however, allergies more often result in nasty topical symptoms.
- Excessive licking and grooming
- Itchy skin
- Red, dry, and/or irritated skin
Less often, symptoms may include digestive and respiratory reactions, such as:
- Red, itchy, and/or watery eyes
Other Types of Allergies
Seasonal allergies are identifiable by the relative briefness of their symptoms. Keep in mind that some pets will suffer from symptoms year-round, especially if they’re irritated by non-seasonal environmental factors like dust, mold, fragrances, or cigarette smoke. These may manifest in symptoms including the ones listed above. To whatever extent possible, try to identify triggers and limit your cat’s exposure to irritants.
Addressing Your Cat’s Allergies
- Bath time: If you suffer from pet allergies or get irritated by seasonal factors like pollen, you’ve probably learned the benefits of bathing cats. The process discourages excessive dander and helps remove allergens from a cat’s coat and skin. When irritants are permitted to linger, they can spell trouble for both cats and their owners who are continually reexposed throughout the day. Your veterinarian may recommend paying particular attention to your cat’s ears, which can accumulate harmful allergens.
- Wash your cat’s bed and belongings: Pollen, dust, and other irritating particles can collect on anything your cat regularly interacts with. Make sure to keep their bed clean during allergy season and keep any of their favorite parts of the house free from risk factors.
- Keep the outside out: Even indoor cats can get exposed to pollen and other allergens thanks to open windows and doors. You may also be tracking these through the house on your hair and clothes. Make sure to eliminate as many of these sources as possible. It may even be best to restrict an outdoor cat’s access to the outdoors during allergy season.
- Use dust-free litter: A cat who suffers from seasonal allergies may be especially vulnerable to other environmental risk factors like dust. Look for low or no-dust litter varieties to eliminate at least one potential source of allergy symptoms.
When Should You Visit the Vet?
Take your cat on a trip to the vet’s office if their symptoms prove especially severe and/or persistent. In addition to conducting tests to identify the source of their symptoms, your vet may recommend supplements or additional precautions to take at home. Preventive and treatment methods may include prescription or over-the-counter antihistamines, specialty diets, ointments, and more. Always talk to your veterinarian before attempting to administer medications on your own and watch cats closely to observe the progression of their symptoms.