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How to tell if your cat has seasonal allergies

As the flowers begin to bloom, you may find yourself reaching for a Claritin or Zyrtek. Did you know that your cat may be suffering from seasonal allergies, too? Here’s how to determine if your cat is as allergic to the springtime as you are.

Respiratory problems

The sneezing and coughing that you might associate with human seasonal allergies are not as common in felines. While excessive amounts of pollen can cause your cat to sneeze or cough, respiratory distress should always be treated as a veterinary emergency.

Don’t wait to take your cat to the vet, because sneezing and coughing could actually be the signs of more serious problems such as infections or organ failure.

Environmental allergies

Allergens such as pollen, mold, and fungus, and even household cleaners can irritate your cat’s skin. You may see biting or scratching at the affected areas, especially around the head. If your cat typically shows these symptoms around the change of seasons, or days when the pollen or mold count are especially high, he or she may be suffering from seasonal allergies.

Your vet may recommend a special shampoo that can help remove allergens from your cat’s fur. Severe allergies may be referred to a dermatologist who can run under-the-skin tests to determine the exact cause of the irritation.

Flea and food allergies

Allergic reactions to fleas and certain ingredients in food could also be the source of your cat’s discomfort. As little as one flea bite can cause a serious reaction in cats that can lead to endless scratching, raw spots, and even loss of fur. Your vet can recommend an appropriate flea treatment and prescribe prednisone or hydrocortisone to alleviate the symptoms.

Food allergies can also manifest as skin irritation. In order to treat them, your vet may prescribe a special hypoallergenic veterinary diet. Certain grain free and limited ingredient diets may also be suitable for your cat, and your veterinarian can help you decide which is right for you.

Do you have a cat with seasonal allergies or other special needs? Our pet sitters can visit, once, twice, and even three times a day to give medication. Give us a call to find out more about our services!


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Johnny Lai on flickr

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