Did you know cats can suffer from seasonal allergies? That's right – cats are just as susceptible to the allergens in the air as humans are, and they are especially vulnerable to seasonal allergies. If your cat is scratching a lot, shaking their head, or seems uncomfortable, they might be experiencing seasonal cat allergies. These allergies can cause even more severe symptoms if left untreated, so it is important to recognize the signs and know when to take your cat to the vet.
Signs of Seasonal Allergies in Cats
Unlike humans, who usually have respiratory symptoms like sneezing and coughing, cats most often develop skin symptoms when they have seasonal allergies. If your cat is scratching, licking, or biting their fur more than usual, it could indicate seasonal cat allergies. Other signs include:
- Hair loss
- Redness or inflammation of the skin around the chin, paws, mouth, or anus
- Skin and ear infections
- Shaking their head
- Vomiting or producing more hairballs than usual
- Scratching at ears
- Chewing their paws
- Open sores on their skin from excessive scratching or biting
- Respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, red eyes, and a runny nose
Causes of Seasonal Cat Allergies
The most common cause of these allergies is the pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. These tiny particles are released in large amounts during the spring and summer months and can float in the air for miles.
Seasonal allergies arise when your cat's skin comes into direct contact with the pollen, triggering an allergic reaction. Your cat's overactive immune system causes it to release histamine, which leads to their skin becoming irritated. This initial irritation leads to your cat scratching excessively in an attempt to relieve the itch.
The pesky pollen grains can also get into your cat's nasal passages, eyes, and ears and cause respiratory symptoms like sneezing and coughing.
Other less common causes of seasonal cat allergies are:
How to Avoid Seasonal Allergies in Cats
The best way to get relief from your cat's allergies is to avoid them. This can be challenging since environmental allergens like pollen can't be controlled. However, there are some steps you can take to minimize your cat's exposure:
- Keep windows and doors closed during pollen season
- Avoid spending time outdoors when pollen counts are high
- If you have an outdoor cat, wipe their paws every time they come inside to keep them from bringing pollen into the house
- Give your cat frequent baths with hypoallergenic shampoo to remove allergens from their skin and fur
- If your cat doesn't like baths, give them frequent wipe-downs with waterless shampoo or disposable towelettes designed for use on cats
- Clean your pet beds, cat trees, and toys frequently
- Avoid putting your cat in the basement or garage, where mold and other potential allergens can collect
- Vacuum and dust the house regularly to get rid of allergens
When to See a Vet
Sometimes, no matter what you do to keep your cat's seasonal allergies at bay, they may still suffer from symptoms. If your cat is exhibiting any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above and you haven't been able to manage them at home, it is time to take your cat to the vet.
Your vet can perform an allergy test to determine what allergens are causing your cat's discomfort. Once your vet determines the cause of your cat's seasonal allergies, they will work with you to create a treatment plan. Treatment might include one or more of the following:
Your vet may recommend a medicated shampoo formulated to reduce cat allergy symptoms and relieve the itchiness and irritation that seasonal allergies can cause. Some of these shampoos contain corticosteroids, antifungal agents, and other ingredients that can reduce inflammation and soothe your cat's skin.
Your vet may recommend allergy shots if your cat's seasonal allergies are severe. These are injections of tiny amounts of allergens that help your cat's body build a tolerance to the allergens and reduce the severity of their symptoms. This treatment can take a long time to produce results, so it requires a commitment from you and your cat. However, it can be very effective for cats with chronic seasonal allergies.
To help relieve the itching and inflammation caused by seasonal cat allergies, your vet may prescribe topical steroids to be applied directly to the skin. These medications can reduce cat allergy symptoms and provide relief for your cat. If used long-term, however, they can also cause adverse side effects, so it is vital to use them as directed by your vet.