Feline Skin Allergy Symptoms and Care

Cat with itchy skin allergy

Does Your Cat Have a Skin Allergy?

Are you concerned about changes in your cat's skin or coat? Hair loss, sores, or red spots could be signs that your pet has an uncomfortable skin allergy. Your favorite feline's veterinarian offers treatments that will stop itching and inflammation and prevent future allergy flare-ups.

What Are Skin Allergies?

Skin allergies happen when your cat comes in contact with, eats, or breathes in an allergen. Allergens aren't inherently dangerous or toxic. In fact, they're harmless things like pollen, saliva, dust, or food. Unfortunately, your pet's immune system mistakenly treats allergens as dangerous threats to your cat's health. Once an allergy is detected, your cat's immune system produces antibodies that attack the substance. Histamines, natural chemicals released during an allergy attack, cause allergy symptoms ranging from itchy skin to watery eyes.

Signs of Skin Allergies in Cats

Itching is a common skin allergy symptom in cats. In an attempt to stop the itch, your cat may resort to scratching, frequent grooming or biting the itchy areas. Eventually, grooming and scratching can lead to hair loss and bald spots.

Scratching and biting may also cause open sores on your pet's body, which can be difficult to see through your cat's hair. Does your cat flinch when you pet it? You might have accidentally touched an open sore or scab. Sores and inflamed red skin can occur anywhere on your pet's body but are most obvious on the face.

Common Causes of Allergies

Feline skin allergies can be caused by:

  • Fleas: Allergies to flea saliva cause crusty bumps that usually appear on your cat's back, neck and face. Flea allergies have become more common in cats in recent years, according to Banfield's 2018 State of Pet Health Report. Over the course of 10 years, flea allergies in cats increased by 67%, according to the report. Fleas aren't just a problem if you have an outdoor cat. The insects can catch a ride on your clothing and jump onto your pet as soon as you walk through your front door.
  • Seasonal and Environmental Allergies: These types of allergies are also becoming more common in cats. The Banfield report notes an 11% increase in 10 years. Your cat can develop skin symptoms if it's allergic to pollen, mold, dust, dander, or even the products you use to keep your home clean. Seasonal allergies can affect both indoor and outdoor cats, as allergens can easily enter your home through an open window or on the bottom on your shoe.
  • Food Allergies: Your pet's skin issues might be caused by an allergy to a pet food ingredient. Proteins like chicken and fish are most often responsible for allergic reactions in cats, according to PetMD.

How to Treat Your Cat's Skin Allergy

Treatment for skin allergies depends on the type of allergies. If your cat has a flea allergy, your vet can recommend or prescribe shampoos or topical medications that kill fleas and flea eggs. You'll also need to use sprays or other products to kill the fleas in your home and yard. If your cat has fleas, it's safe to assume that your other pets have them too. Treating all the pets in your home for fleas offers a simple way to prevent skin allergy symptoms. Monthly topical flea treatment will keep your pets free of fleas.

If food is the suspected culprit, your pet's veterinarian may recommend an elimination diet to determine which foods are responsible. Your pet will start by eating a special type of food that's less likely to cause allergy symptoms. Over the course of several weeks or months, you'll gradually introduce new proteins and ingredients one by one. If a particular ingredient causes the symptoms to recur, you'll know to avoid foods with that ingredient in the future.

Environmental and seasonal allergies can be controlled with allergy medication. Both shots and oral drops are available to treat allergies.

No matter what the cause of the skin allergy, soothing your pet's itchy skin is a priority. Your pet's veterinarian will prescribe medication that relieves inflammation or decreases itching by stopping the allergic reaction. Infected sores may need treatment with antibiotics.

Are you concerned about your cat's skin allergy symptoms? Give us a call to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

Merck Manual: Flea Allergy Dermatitis, 4/2021

PetMD: Cat Skin Allergies

Merck Manual: Allergies of Cats

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Feline Skin Disorders

Banfield Pet Hospital: Misunderstood Pet Allergy, 5/29/2018

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

9:00 AM-6:00 PM

Tuesday:

9:00 AM-8:00 PM

Wednesday:

9:00 AM-4:00 PM

Thursday:

9:00 AM-6:00 PM

Friday:

9:00 AM-5:00 PM

Saturday:

9:00 AM-3:00 PM

Sunday:

Closed

  • "I have my puppy for only 4 days and the doctor provided all the answers to my million questions. She was patient and kind and very loving to my pup. She diagnosed ear mites and cleaned his ears throughly. She explained everything throughly and even comforted me when I got upset about him being a little sick. I would highly recommend and will be taking Finn her from here on out. Thank you thank you thank you!!"
    by Jeanna P. on 04/06/2022
  • ""My husband and I absolutely love Three Village Veterinary Hospital! Our puppies adore Dr. Sophia, and she takes the best care of them whenever we bring them in. When our newest puppy broke her leg and had to have surgery, Dr. Sophia called us right away to check in and see how she was doing, which meant the world to us! All of the vet techs and front desk staff are also amazing! I couldn't imagine bringing our babies anywhere else.""
    Jessica K.
  • "'They have taken great care of my puppy...even when he does scary things like eating light bulbs ( metal and all). As a first time dog owner I have lots of questions and each of the vets have taken their time to answer all of my questions and concerns without ever making me feel stupid for asking. The support staff is also very knowledgeable, helpful and truly gets excited to see each of the animals that comes through the door.'"
    Joanne W
  • ""I could not be happier with my visit to Three Village Veterinary Hospital! I just recently moved to New York and have been extremely nervous in choosing a new veterinarian for my dog (he’s super stubborn and can be a real handful). I called Three Village Veterinary Hospital and right off the bat Dr. Sophia Was fantastic! She really took the time to dive into Huxley’s history with me, including his anxiousness about vet visits. Hearing Dr. Sophia ask all the right questions reassured me that Huxley was in good hands.

    Huxley came out of his appointment with a bill of clean health and a ton of new friends in the office staff, I couldn’t believe how happy he was! I am so glad that I was recommended to Three Village Veterinary Hospital and feel incredibly relieved to have found a fantastic new team that I can trust Huxley with. I HIGHLY recommend!""
    Michelle G
  • ""I would never go to another place but this one, even if I had to travel. best professional understanding point on doctors there. they opened their doors and stayed open just for me after hours. They had so much empathy & helped me make the right decision in a short time. I recieved a hand written card from them a couple of days after my visit, which made me cry. I trust them and respect all of them 100% my entire will be taken our pets theres. I cant thank them enough""
  • "We've been with TVVH for over 25 years. Could not imagine going elsewhere. In addition to their professional expertise is the consistent human element; their very real kindness and caring. Office staff, technicians and doctors all are exceptional."
    Linda B
  • "The staff and doctors are amazing. The older my Shih Tzu gets the more difficult and snappy he has become. Your doctors and staff are kind, gentle, and professional. You don't make me feel like I have a bad dog or I raised him wrong. I feel you care not just for me dog but for me (who can be a bit neurotic about my dog). Your tech staff and doctors...even the front desk staff are the best!!"
    Rebecca D
  • "I not only use Three Village Veterinary for my personal animals, but frequently recommend them to my grooming customers as well. I trust them explicitly and value their professionalism, but above all their compassion... all the doctors there are great & the fact that they put up with my MANY emergencies (& my neurosis) makes them my fav. Love you guys <3"
    Melissa V