An allergy happens when the immune system overreacts to some kind of substance that’s called an allergen. The problem is, allergens can be just about anything. They can be a type of food you put in your body, something that touches your skin, something that floats in the air, or even something that sits on the ground a good distance away. Humans can be allergic to a long list of things, and that’s unfortunately also true for our cats. Cats suffer from allergies in the same way humans do, but they don’t have the advantage of voicing their discomforts or actively seeking the help they need. That’s where you come in. It’s important to recognize when your cat has allergies so you can do something about it.
Here are the most common signs a cat is silently dealing with allergies.
Sneezing, Coughing, Wheezing
The occasional sneeze is no big deal, but repeated sneezing and coughing is one of the most common signs of allergies. Be careful, though, because it’s also a sign of so many other health issues. Respiratory-related allergy symptoms are usually due to environmental allergens that your cat inhales. Pollen and dust are examples. Wheezing could also be a sign of kitty asthma or a serious allergic reaction.
A lot of cats snore, so this can be a tricky symptom to spot. If your cat has allergies, their throat could feel inflamed or itchy. This often leads to either louder or more frequent snoring. It could also be due to excess phlegm in your cat’s nasal passages. For most cats, a slight snore while they’re deep in sleep is normal. But if you can hear your cat snoring from all the way across the room, there’s probably something more going on.
Itchy Ears and Chronic Ear Infections
Ears often take the brunt of a cat’s allergy symptoms. Ear infections will happen if you let your cat’s ears get too dirty, but sometimes those infections are related to allergens. You’ll know your cat has an ear infection if they’re constantly pawing at their ears, shaking their head, or if their ears have a foul smell, discharge, or look especially cruddy. In this case, you’ll have to resolve the infection while also addressing the allergy issue.
Runny or Irritated Eyes
Just like humans can get watery or itchy eyes because of allergies, cats are the same. Pay attention to your kitty’s pretty peepers and look for greenish discharge or excessive watering. Some cats squint a lot when their eyes are itchy or bothering them, and some cats will paw at their eyes at an attempt to find relief.
Severely Itchy Skin and Hair Loss
Itchy skin and hair loss are common signs a cat has allergies. Flea allergies are a likely explanation, but it could also be caused by an ingredient in their food or some kind of environmental trigger. Cleaning products, fabrics, and even grass are all possibilities. Cats that can’t stop scratching can have red, dry, and otherwise irritated skin. Sometimes they itch so much they bleed, and hair loss usually happens because of so much scratching. The area on the cat’s back by the base of their tail is a common place to look for signs of this allergy symptom.
Obsessive Paw Licking or Biting
Even if your cat isn’t itching other body parts, their paws could be a completely different story. Paws are extremely sensitive, and some cats with allergies are only itchy between their toes or paw pads. They’ll constantly lick their feet hoping for relief. And if it’s really bad, they might resort to biting or nibbling.
Vomiting and Diarrhea
Digestive upset including diarrhea and vomiting is often a sign a cat has a food allergy. It needs to be a consistent occurrence, however. Cats throw up for a number of reasons, and you only need to be concerned if it’s happening on a regular basis. If your cat throws up every day or most days a week, it’s time to see the vet. The same goes for bouts of chronic diarrhea. Your vet will help you determine if it’s an allergen in your cat’s regular food or something else.
If your cat has allergies, it’s unlikely they’ll have every symptom on this list. Most cats show only one or two noticeable signs of allergies. It can be hard to determine if what you’re seeing is actually related to allergies, but that’s why vets are here to help. You don’t want your cat to suffer, so schedule a vet appointment if you have even a slight suspicion your cat is having an allergic reaction.