Allergies are probably the most frequent well being circumstances on the earth. Everybody is aware of somebody who suffers mightily throughout allergy season, when sure molds and pollens prevail extra within the setting. Unfortunately, our feline companions expertise the identical sorts of allergic reactions that we people expertise, inflicting them the identical form of distress.
How allergic reactions occur
Allergies happen when the immune system overreacts to substances known as allergens, international proteins that the immune system tries to assault and take away. Allergens themselves are pretty innocent; it’s the aggressive immune response that causes the issue.
Allergens enter the physique in quite a lot of methods:
- Inhalation (mud, mould, pollen)
- Indigestion (meals)
- Through the pores and skin (insect bites)
Allergic cats will present totally different signs, relying on the route that the allergen enters the physique:
Respiratory: sneezing, runny nostril, eye discharge (higher respiratory) or coughing and wheezing (decrease
Dermatologic: itchy pores and skin, probably with scabs and/or hair loss.
Gastrointestinal: nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Cough and sneeze
When airborne allergens irritate the respiratory system in people, they generally trigger sneezing; itchy, pink eyes; and a runny nostril. Although these higher respiratory indicators are generally seen in cats, it’s extra frequent for airborne allergens to trigger a response within the decrease respiratory tract (the lungs).
In this case, the cat inhales the allergen, which triggers a hypersensitivity response. The airways constrict, and glands within the airways secrete mucus to lure the allergen and forestall it from migrating additional into the lungs. The cough reflex additionally initiates to expel the trapped allergen. Cats who reply to inhaled allergens on this manner are stated to have allergic bronchitis. A extra acquainted time period for this situation is bronchial asthma.
Do a dietary elimination trial, by which your cat is fed a eating regimen containing a protein supply she hasn’t encountered earlier than (like duck, rabbit or venison), to acquire a definitive prognosis.
Scratch, chew, lick
Although airborne allergens can set off respiratory indicators in cats, it’s extra frequent for these allergens to have an effect on the pores and skin. When this happens, we name the situation atopic dermatitis or atopy.
Common airborne allergens embrace home mud, pollens, molds, grasses and mildew. Cats with atopy are sometimes very itchy, and so they manifest this by scratching their pores and skin and grooming excessively, which frequently leads to hair loss. Some cats will develop small scabs throughout their physique, a situation known as miliary dermatitis (as a result of the small, crusty scabs resemble millet seeds). Cats with atopy could present indicators solely throughout sure seasons, when the actual allergen is prevalent, though indicators might be seen year-round as nicely, if the allergen is consistently current within the setting (home mud, for instance).
Contact dermatitis is a reasonably unusual pores and skin dysfunction by which the pores and skin reacts to an exterior substance that it comes into contact with. Sometimes the pores and skin turns into infected as a result of the substance itself is irritating or caustic, like family cleaners. This irritant contact dermatitis must be distinguished from allergic contact → dermatitis by which the pores and skin turns into infected as a result of the cat is allergic to the substance that’s contacting the pores and skin, equivalent to flea collars, sure crops, artificial carpet materials, bedding (particularly wool) and a few shampoos. Allergic contact dermatitis is pretty uncommon in cats; I’ve solely seen two or three circumstances at my cat hospital over the previous few a long time.
Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is the commonest allergy in cats. When fleas chew a cat, they deposit their saliva into the pores and skin earlier than they draw their blood meal. (How’s that for a disgusting thought?) Some cats are allergic to proteins within the flea’s saliva, and so they can present a extreme pores and skin response, even from one flea chew. The itching might be intense, and cats will typically lick and chew excessively at their pores and skin, particularly across the base of the tail. Fortunately, there at the moment are many topical flea-control merchandise which are designed to kill fleas as quickly as they soar on a cat, earlier than they get an opportunity to chew, giving aid to most flea-allergic kitties.
Scratch, vomit, diarrhea
Adverse reactions to meals could manifest themselves through the pores and skin. In cats, the commonest meals related to meals allergy embrace hen, fish, beef and dairy. Even if a cat has been consuming an ingredient for a very long time, he can nonetheless develop an allergy to it later in life. Severe generalized itching, miliary dermatitis, localized itching across the head, neck, ears and face, and self-inflicted hair loss on account of over-grooming could also be seen. A number of cats will scratch a lot that they trigger trauma to their pores and skin, and a bacterial pores and skin an infection could develop within the traumatized areas.
Some cats with meals allergy develop gastrointestinal indicators equivalent to vomiting and/or diarrhea. These gastrointestinal indicators can happen with or with out concurrent pores and skin signs.
Dietary elimination trials, by which the cat is fed a eating regimen containing a protein supply they haven’t encountered earlier than (equivalent to duck, rabbit or venison) are essential to acquire a definitive prognosis. Most veterinary workplaces promote prescription diets that comprise proteins which are new to the cat. There are additionally prescription diets by which the protein has been hydrolyzed (pre-digested) into molecules which are too small for the immune system to acknowledge.
These dietary trials require endurance on the a part of the proprietor, as it could take wherever from three to 12 weeks earlier than enchancment within the pores and skin is famous. Cats who solely expertise gastrointestinal indicators from their meals allergy typically present enchancment way more quickly when fed a hypoallergenic eating regimen. Once a eating regimen is discovered that resolves the cat’s signs, the cat will should be on that eating regimen long-term. Avoid cat treats must be averted, as they may comprise a protein supply that triggers the response.
The supreme therapy for allergic reactions is to keep away from the allergen. This could also be potential with allergic contact dermatitis, meals allergy and flea allergy however could also be tough or not possible with inhalant allergy. Fortunately, there are quite a few therapies and drugs out there for allergic circumstances in cats, permitting our feline companions to reside way more snug lives.