How to prevent your cat’s seasonal allergies

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How to prevent your cat’s seasonal allergies - cat sleeping in a garden

Seasonal allergies often flare up in both cats and people in the spring, when environmental allergens become more abundant. If you notice that your cat has allergy symptoms in the spring, read on if you have ever wondered:

  • What causes seasonal allergies in cats?
  • Can seasonal allergies in cats be prevented?
  • How do I know if my cat is having an allergic reaction?
  • How is a cat with allergies diagnosed and treated?

The intense itchiness caused by spring allergies is uncomfortable for cats and can lead to secondary skin and ear infections. It’s important for cat owners to work with a vet to both prevent and treat their furry friend’s allergies.

What are seasonal allergies in cats?

Allergies in cats are the result of an inappropriate immune response to something in the air, food, or on the skin. They can occur at any time during the year and may be either seasonal or year-round. Seasonal allergy symptoms wax and wane throughout the year as allergen levels change with the seasons. Cats can have multiple seasonal allergies that result in symptoms year-round.

What common spring environmental allergens can my cat be allergic to?

Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common allergy in cats,” states Dr. Jo Myers, a veterinarian at Vetster. “Flea allergies may appear worse in the springtime when more fleas are around but can become a year-round problem if the house is infested or if the cat lives in a warm environment.” Other common seasonal allergens include:

  • Pollen from trees or flowers
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Grass

Seasonal allergies are typically environmental and can be airborne or caused by direct contact with the allergen. Other types of allergies, such as food allergies, occur year-round as long as the cat is in contact with the allergen.

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How can I prevent my cat’s seasonal allergy symptoms?

The main way cat owners can limit symptoms is to avoid exposure to allergens. Since the allergen causing a cat’s allergies cannot always be identified, minimizing your cat’s exposure to common allergens is a good way to limit symptoms. Cat owners can also help prevent allergies by:

  • Keeping all cats in the home on flea prevention
  • Routinely cleaning the home
  • Using an air purifier or running the central air to reduce airborne allergens

Keeping cats indoors with the windows closed and air conditioning on can dramatically reduce symptoms of environmental allergies in the spring. In some circumstances, flea prevention is a must even for indoor cats.

Can indoor cats get allergies?

While indoor cats may have reduced access to some seasonal allergens, they can still have spring allergies. Outdoor allergens such as pollen can get indoors through open windows or by being carried in on clothing, triggering an allergic reaction. Other pets in the home that go outdoors can bring fleas into the home, causing a flea infestation on an indoor cat. Cats can also have indoor allergies to mold and dust that flare up seasonally as the temperature and humidity change.

What are the signs of allergies in cats?

The most common signs of cat allergies are itchy skin and excessive scratching. Other cat allergy symptoms include:

While respiratory symptoms and eye or nose discharge can occur with allergies, they are less common than skin symptoms. Other skin conditions can cause symptoms similar to an allergic reaction, so it’s important to talk with a vet any time you notice itchiness, irritated skin, dry skin, or other similar symptoms in your feline friend.

How will a vet diagnose and treat a cat for allergies?

Diagnostic testing is needed to rule out other potential causes of skin symptoms, such as ringworm, skin infections, or external parasites. There is no diagnostic allergy testing that confirms a cat has allergies. The “allergy tests” you may have heard of are done to determine what an allergic cat reacts to, not whether or not they have allergies. The specific allergen causing the symptoms does not usually need to be identified for effective treatment. Once other potential causes are ruled out and allergies are left as the most likely condition, treatments can include:

Bathing and grooming help remove allergens from the fur and skin but are not replacements for flea prevention and allergy medication. Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is another option, especially for cases that don’t respond to traditional first-line therapies. It is important to remember that allergies cannot be cured, and the management of allergy symptoms will likely last the entirety of a cat’s life.

Can I treat my cat’s allergies naturally?

Natural allergy remedies that are not vet-recommended are unlikely to work and often contain ingredients that are toxic to cats. Consult a vet for effective and safe treatments for your furry friend. There are ways to prevent allergy symptoms naturally, including:

  • Limiting exposure to the allergen(s)
  • Keeping windows closed in the spring
  • Routinely cleaning the home
  • Using an air purifier and running the central air
  • Routinely grooming and wiping off your cat’s fur
  • Keeping your cat indoors

If symptoms persist, treatment from a veterinarian is needed. Persistent, intense itching can lead to secondary skin infections and chronic ear infections that make symptoms worse.

What should I do to prevent my cat’s spring allergies?

If your cat is showing symptoms during allergy season, talk to a vet before assuming the symptoms are being caused by allergies. Work with a vet to develop a prevention and treatment plan for your cat’s allergies and follow their instructions closely. Use year-round flea prevention, keep your cat indoors, and reduce airborne allergens in the home by using an air purifier and turning on the central air, if you have it. Allergies in cats cannot be cured, so affected cats require long-term management under the guidance of a veterinarian to keep symptoms under control. If you would like to discuss your cat’s allergy symptoms, you can connect with a vet in a virtual vet appointment from home.

FAQ - How to prevent your cat’s seasonal allergies

Is there a way to prevent cat allergies?

Spring allergies in cats can be prevented by keeping your cat indoors, using an air purifier, keeping the windows closed, and using flea prevention. Cat allergies require long-term prevention measures and treatment from a veterinarian to keep them under control.

How do you prevent skin allergies in cats?

Skin allergies are caused when an allergen comes into direct contact with the skin, is ingested, or is inhaled. Signs of allergies can be prevented by avoiding the allergens that trigger the symptoms. Keeping cats indoors, using flea prevention, cleaning the home, and working with a vet to choose the right food can help minimize your cat’s contact with a significant amount of common allergens.

Do cat allergies get worse in the spring?

Pollen and other allergens are often more abundant in the environment in the spring and summer months. Cats can show more allergy symptoms in the spring as their exposure to these allergens is increased.

How do cats act when they have allergies?

The most common symptom of allergies in cats is itchy skin. Allergies and persistent scratching can lead to different skin symptoms such as hair loss, rash, sores, and flaky skin. Other symptoms of allergies include sneezing, coughing, eye or nose discharge, vomiting or diarrhea, and minor swelling around the eyes.