Can Cats Have Allergies?

People can be allergic to several things, including cats, but cats can have their allergies, too. This can happen when their immune systems becomes sensitive to substances in the environment.

Some allergy symptoms in cats can be severe, cause discomfort, and even be incurable. Knowing what allergy cats can have, finding it if your cat has it, and what you can do about it can help prevent problems.

What Are Allergies In Cats?

A cat’s immune system reacts if it is exposed to somewhat, it is allergic to producing antibodies, yet if the substance is not dangerous. Antibodies are supposed to tell the body that something is attacking it and are generally used to fight infections. When antibodies are formed in response to allergens, they can elicit an immune system response in the cat. Therefore, this response and the symptoms that occur are called allergies.


Depending on the type of allergies a cat has, symptoms can range from irritating to life-threatening.

Signs of allergies in cats

  • Itching
  • Hair loss
  • Labored breathing
  • Redness or irritation of the skin
  • Swelling
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Runny eyes or nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Chewing on the paws or tail

Cats with allergies will show diverse symptoms, but the symptoms that affect breathing are the most severe. Owing to the body’s response to an allergen, a cat may have trouble breathing due to swelling of the face, throat, or nose. This swelling can be severe and cause coughing, especially if a cat already has asthma, wheezing, nausea, and even collapse and ultimately death if not treated quickly. Oxygen is needed for life, so if a cat cannot breathe due to allergies, it is a life-threatening situation.

In addition to respiratory problems, a cat can get watery eyes, a runny nose, and sneeze if exposed to something it is allergic to. Allergens can irritate the mucous membranes and may cause these symptoms.

Itching, redness, hair loss and irritation of the skin, and chewing at the paws or tail can also be seen in a cat through allergies. These symptoms are prevalent in cats with allergies to fleas, food, and other environmental allergies. The allergens cause the body to become irritated and inflamed, causing the cat to itch and bite itself to alleviate the discomfort. Hair loss and sometimes even open wounds can occur.

Finally, the gastrointestinal tract is sometimes affected by inflammation and irritation due to allergies. If this happens, diarrhoea and vomiting may be observed.

Causes of Allergies In Cats

Cats can be allergic to several things, and most are easily found in and around our homes. In some situations, this can make it complicated to eliminate the cause of a cat’s allergies.

  • Pollens: Trees, dust, grass, weeds, mold, and fungal pollen can cause allergies in cats. These environmental allergens are hard to control.
  • Food: Food allergies are the most common type of allergy in cats. There are many types of foods that a cat can be allergic to, but animal proteins such as chicken, dairy, beef, fish, and eggs are the most common culprits.
  • Fleas: The most widespread cause of allergy in cats, flea bites cause cats to have irritating allergic reactions, including redness, hair loss, and itching. Even indoor cats can only get fleas.
  • Medications: Cats can be allergic to flea medications, shampoos, and other medications.
  • Cleaning Products: Detergents, floor cleaners, and disinfectant sprays can cause allergies in cats.
  • Perfumes: Strong perfumes and colognes can be irritating in their own right, but some cats have allergies to them. Inhaled allergens are general causes of allergies in cats.
  • Smoke: Like other inhalants, some cats are allergic to cigarettes and different types of smoke.
  • Multiple Surfaces: Fabrics, rubbers, and plastics are all types of surfaces that a cat can be allergic to. Some beds, food bowls, and rugs can be a problem for cats with allergies to these specific surfaces.

Types of Cat Allergies

There are different types of allergies that cats can experience. Like people, cats can have allergies to food, drugs, plants, and more. These allergies generally come with symptoms such as:

  • Excessive licking (grooming)
  • Pulling or biting hair
  • Scratch
  • Chew on the paws or body
  • Ear infections
  • Red, dry or flaky skin
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Snoring due to inflammation in the throat
  • Tender and swollen paws

There are four common allergies in cats: environmental, flea, food, and seasonal. These types of allergies, plus the different ways they can affect your cat, are detailed here.

  1. Environmental allergies

Substances that cause environmental allergies consist of pollen, grass, dust, mold, and fungus. Your kitty may also have allergies to things like perfume, cigarette smoke, and some other cleaning product.

  1. Flea allergies

When a tiny insect recognized as a flea bites your cat, it causes an allergic reaction that can be very irritating. Saliva from a flea bite affects a cat’s entire body, not just where it was bitten. Your vet-doc can help you choose the right flea prevention product to help defend your feline friend.

  1. Food allergies

Some cats are allergic to certain foods. This can lead to itchy skin, vomiting, or diarrhea. Your vet-doc can help you figure out which foods irritate your cat and create a proper diet.

  1. Atopic Dermatitis

When a cat experiences a different form of allergies, their bodies can frequently react with a skin condition called atopic dermatitis. With this condition, your cat can develop skin sores, scabs, hair loss, and redness.

Diagnosis of Allergies In Cats

To diagnose allergies in cats, a veterinary dermatologist can review your pet’s medical history and perform a physical exam. In some cases, a test can be done to look for environmental allergies. If your vet thinks the allergy is food-related, he may want to reduce the cause by changing your pet’s diet until the problem of food is eliminated.

When it comes to fighting allergies, in some cases, the best thing you can do for your cat is to focus on prevention. If your cat is allergic to cleaners, medications, foods, plants, or other things that can be avoided, try to keep her away from these items. For something like pollen or dust, your cat may need allergy medications because these things are challenging to avoid.

Treating allergies can be difficult if the source of allergies cannot be determined. It may take some time with a veterinary dermatologist to find the source of your cat’s allergies.

It can be challenging to figure out what a cat is allergic to. Elimination diets and exclusion trials with different cleaning products, dinner plates, beds, and medications may be necessary to determine what causes an allergic reaction if it is not apparent. Some blood and skin tests are available to detect some types of allergens.

Allergies and Asthma

Cats with asthma are likely to be more affected by allergies than cats without asthma. If your cat has allergies and asthma, your vet may prescribe medications to help open your cat’s airways in the short term. Long-term solutions may include corticosteroids.

Remember that cigarette smoke is hazardous for cats with allergies and asthma. As a general rule, it’s never a good idea to smoke around your pets, but it can be detrimental to their health for those with pre-existing medical problems like asthma.

Allergy Treatments

The best way to lessen cat allergies is to remove harmful allergens from your home. You can remove ingredients from your feline’s diet to see if they caused skin irritation. You can keep your cat inside when seasonal allergies arise and prevent fleas by using flea control medications.

It can take time to determine precisely which substance is causing your cat’s allergies. Your vet can run tests to assess potential culprits. Still, if your cat’s allergies are food-related, you’ll also need to monitor her reactions to certain ingredients to identify which food is causing problems. Your vet may also recommend a limited ingredient diet or a prescription diet for cats with food allergies.

Keeping a house clean and dust-free and bathing your cat regularly can also help reduce allergy symptoms. Ask your vet about the best feline shampoos to use and how often your cat’s fur should be washed in addition to her self-grooming. Bathing too much can cause your cat’s skin to dry out.

If your feline’s allergies are related to her litter, gradually switch to natural waste. With the help of your vet and patience on your part, the source of your feline’s allergies can be determined so that both of you can find relief.

How To Prevent Allergies In Cats

There is no means to prevent a cat from developing allergies, but it can often limit its exposure to allergens. Keeping a clean home, using dust-free and fragrance-free kitty litter, not using too many perfumes or deodorizers, using regular flea preventatives, not smoking in the house,  and using metal or ceramic food and water dishes can assist prevent your cat from having an allergic reaction. If you observe signs of allergies in your cat, it is best to consult with a veterinarian.


Cats have sometimes prescribed medications in case specific allergens cannot be removed from the environment. Medications include:

  • Cortisone, steroids, or airborne pollen allergies injections
  • Antihistamines as a preventive
  • Flea prevention products