Allergic reactions are one of the widespread well being circumstances on the planet. All people is aware of somebody who suffers mightily throughout allergy season, when sure molds and pollens prevail extra within the setting. Sadly, 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
Allergic reactions happen when the immune system overreacts to substances referred to as allergens, overseas 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)
- By means of 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. Though these higher respiratory indicators are typically seen in cats, it’s extra widespread for airborne allergens to trigger a response within the decrease respiratory tract (the lungs).
On this state of affairs, 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 method are stated to have allergic bronchitis. A extra acquainted time period for this situation is bronchial asthma.
Do a dietary elimination trial, during which your cat is fed a food plan containing a protein supply she hasn’t encountered earlier than (like duck, rabbit or venison), to acquire a definitive prognosis.
Scratch, chew, lick
Though airborne allergens can set off respiratory indicators in cats, it’s extra widespread for these allergens to have an effect on the pores and skin. When this happens, we name the situation atopic dermatitis or atopy.
Frequent airborne allergens embody home mud, pollens, molds, grasses and mildew. Cats with atopy are sometimes very itchy, they usually 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 referred to as miliary dermatitis (as a result of the small, crusty scabs resemble millet seeds). Cats with atopy might present indicators solely throughout sure seasons, when the actual allergen is prevalent, though indicators will 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 during which the pores and skin reacts to an exterior substance that it comes into contact with. Generally 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 needs to be distinguished from allergic contact → dermatitis during 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, reminiscent of flea collars, sure vegetation, 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 instances at my cat hospital over the previous few a long time.
Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is the most typical 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, they usually can present a extreme pores and skin response, even from one flea chew. The itching will be intense, and cats will typically lick and chew excessively at their pores and skin, particularly across the base of the tail. Happily, there at the moment are many topical flea-control merchandise which might be designed to kill fleas as quickly as they bounce on a cat, earlier than they get an opportunity to chew, giving aid to most flea-allergic kitties.
Scratch, vomit, diarrhea
Hostile reactions to meals might manifest themselves by way of the pores and skin. In cats, the most typical meals related to meals allergy embody hen, fish, beef and dairy. Even when a cat has been consuming an ingredient for a very long time, he can nonetheless develop an allergy to it later in life. Extreme 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 might develop within the traumatized areas.
Some cats with meals allergy develop gastrointestinal indicators reminiscent of vomiting and/or diarrhea. These gastrointestinal indicators can happen with or with out concurrent pores and skin signs.
Dietary elimination trials, during which the cat is fed a food plan containing a protein supply they haven’t encountered earlier than (reminiscent of duck, rabbit or venison) are essential to acquire a definitive prognosis. Most veterinary workplaces promote prescription diets that comprise proteins which might be new to the cat. There are additionally prescription diets during which the protein has been hydrolyzed (pre-digested) into molecules which might be 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 far more quickly when fed a hypoallergenic food plan. As soon as a food plan is discovered that resolves the cat’s signs, the cat will should be on that food plan long-term. Keep away from cat treats needs to be prevented, as they may comprise a protein supply that triggers the response.
The best remedy for allergic reactions is to keep away from the allergen. This can be attainable with allergic contact dermatitis, meals allergy and flea allergy however could also be troublesome or unattainable with inhalant allergy. Happily, there are quite a few remedies and drugs obtainable for allergic circumstances in cats, permitting our feline companions to stay far more comfy lives.