Does Your Cat Have Allergies? 4 Common Symptoms

When you think of allergies, you may picture sneezing fits brought on by ragweed or remember that a particular medication gives you hives. But did you know that your cat can suffer from allergies too?

Just like humans, cats can experience allergies to specific plants, foods, and airborne substances. Common culprits include dust particles, grass, grain fillers in food, perfumes, and household cleaning products. So how do you know if an everyday item is causing your cat distress? Watch for the following four symptoms.

1. Digestive Issues

One of the first signs that your cat's body is trying to get rid of a specific substance is a change in digestive health. New allergies may manifest as vomiting or diarrhea. This response is particularly common with food-related allergies, though digestive issues can result from plants your cat nibbles at just as easily as from the food you feed them.

2. Ear Infections

Many cat allergies affect the production of earwax. If you notice that your cat's ears seem to be bothering them or that they experience more frequent ear infections, consider allergy-related causes. Ear health problems are usually related to food or pollen allergies. 

3. Itchiness

Itchiness appears with almost all cases of cat allergies. Pay attention to where they focus their scratching to give you clues about the nature of the problem. More rubbing at their eyes and ears may be related to a seasonal pollen allergy, while biting or scratching at their rump and tail can indicate the presence of fleas or other pests that can trigger an allergy response.

4. Respiratory Issues

Just like your hay fever, cat allergies to airborne substances can cause coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and even snoring. These respiratory discomforts usually stem from sensitivity to cigarette smoke, personal care products like hairspray and perfume, excessive litter dust, or household cleaners. 

While any change in your cat's respiratory health should be addressed with a pet health professional, seek emergency veterinary care immediately if you notice that your cat is having trouble breathing or is coughing uncontrollably for extended periods of time.

Allergies must be diagnosed and treated by a reputable veterinarian. If you observe these symptoms, have your cat tested for sensitivity to common allergens. Once your vet identifies the substance or substances that triggers an allergic response in your cat, your vet may recommend a diet change, preventative environmental measures, or pet medication like cortisone, steroids, or antihistamines.