Allergies occur when the body’s immune system becomes hyper-reactive to a substance. For your cat, it has become an allergen. Examples of potential allergens:
- Environment: grass, pollen or dust mites
- External Parasites: fleas, mosquitoes, ticks
- Food: protein sources
It can be quite challenging for your veterinarian to determine the allergen that is causing the problem. Some allergies are lifelong, just like allergies in people can be life-long.
When people have allergies, symptoms such as a runny nose or watery eyes are common and easy to see. Cats are more likely to have excessive scratching, and they may overgroom, lose their hair or have crusts and lumps.
Cats may exhibit miliary dermatitis, a feline condition where seed-sized crusts are distributed over the back of the cat. Secondary bacterial infections of the skin are common, as scratching and licking can contaminate the damaged skin barrier.
Cats are experts at covering up health problems! Any change in your cat's general behavior, like over-grooming or hair loss, may be the first indicator of an allergy. Regular brushing, especially with long-haired cats, can help you spot problems early.
Your veterinarian may have to run a series of tests to diagnose an allergy. And often, allergies are a life-long problem. In addition to avoiding the allergen (if possible), your veterinarian may recommend a combination of medication and topical therapy. Cats with allergies have a defective skin barrier, so it is essential to support and protect the skin by using a dermatopical product.