Allergies are on the rise, not only in people, but in our companion animals too. And cats are no exception. Feline allergies impose a serious problem to responsible cat parents. To help you navigate through the minefield of feline allergies, we have compiled a list of the most common types of allergies in cats.
  1. Flea allergies
Some cats are extremely sensitive to fleas. Even a few flea bites may trigger intense itchiness for 2-3 weeks.The most common signs of flea allergy in a cat, include scratching, biting and licking particularly around the base of the tail, flanks, belly, thighs and neck. More often than not, although you are sure about the diagnosis, you will not be able to find any fleas because affected cats clean themselves aggressively.The best way of preventing and treating flea allergies is long-term use of appropriate flea control medications. The ideal flea control medication should contain 3 active substances – an adulticide (to kill adult fleas) and an insect-growth regulator (to prevent the immature fleas from growing up and reproducing. When discussing about flea control medications, it should be noted that canine flea medications are not suitable and can be potentially toxic for cats.
  1. Pollen, trees and weeds allergies
Allergies to pollen, trees and weeds are quite common in cats. Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to this type of allergies, cats are not like humans.  Cats generally show their allergies in skin reactions, not respiratory symptoms (sneezing, runny nose). A cat affected by pollen, tree or weed allergy will lick, scratch and chew its skin. In severe case there may be more significant skin damages. Usually these allergies start as seasonal, but over time, as the cat ages and tends to react to more triggers, they become a continuous problem.In some cases minimizing your cat’s exposure to pollen, trees and weeds is enough.  However, since most allergies are seasonal and recurrent, your best option is to consult with a licensed veterinarian, test the cat for potential allergens and either limit her exposure to allergens (by keeping the cat indoors and using air conditioners and air filters during problematic seasons) or ask for appropriate medications (antihistamines or corticosteroids). In more severe cases, the veterinarian may prescribe immune-suppressive drugs and hypo-sensitization therapy.
  1. Household allergens
A plethora of indoor allergens like dust, molds and household mites can be a problem for sensitive cats. Distinguishing indoor allergies from outdoor allergies is challenging because they both manifest with the same signs – licking, chewing and scratching of the skin. The only difference is that indoor allergies are usually present year-round and do not depend on the season.  Treating indoor allergies starts with performing intradermal or blood tests to determine potential allergens.  Once determined, you need to either minimize or eliminate the cat’s exposure to those allergens. Common ways of minimizing exposure include dealing with mold problems, cleaning the house frequently and thoroughly, using air filters and air conditioners and regularly wiping your cat with a damp cloth. Depending on the severity of the case, the veterinarian may prescribe anti-histamines, corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs or hyposensitization therapy.
  1. Food allergies
A quite common and complex type of allergy in cats is the food allergy. Cats suffering from food allergies can show skin issues, gastrointestinal issues or both. Common skin issues include itchy skin and recurrent skin and ear infections. Common gastrointestinal issues include diarrhea, increased gassiness and vomiting. It is an interesting fact that cats may develop food allergy at any age. The allergy may be to some new food or some food they have been eating for years.Treating food allergies requires performing a two-phased trial:
  • Elimination
  • Challenge
During the elimination phase, a new diet is carefully selected to try to eliminate any foods containing dietary proteins thought to be responsible for the food allergy. In the elimination phase you can use a novel ingredient diet or hydrolyzed food. During the second, challenge phase, the dog needs to be monitored for a return of clinical signs upon dietary challenge. This strategy should be continued until all of the offending ingredients are identified or at least until a well-balanced acceptable diet is achieved without any recurrence of food allergy.Some cats do well on hypoallergenic diets available over the counter, while others require strictly regulated foods that need veterinary prescriptions. 
  1. Plastic food bowls allergies
Recent studies suggest a link between eating and drinking from plastic bowls with a condition commonly known as feline chin acne.The condition manifests with either solid or pus-filled acnes around the cat’s chin. Another possible trigger for this condition is the bacteria-laden slime that forms on the bottom of the plastic bowls.The best way to address this type of allergy is by replacing your plastic bowls with either ceramic or glass bowls. However, do not forget to clean them regularly, because over time, the bacteria-laden slime may form on these materials too. Depending on the severity of the chin acne, the veterinarian may prescribe topical anti-inflammatory creams or oral antibiotics and corticosteroids.
  1. Perfume allergies
Certain cats can be extremely sensitive to perfumes and scents added to cat litters, air sprays, dryer cloths, carpet powders and cleaning products. Perfume allergies manifest with itchiness. If you notice that your cat starts scratching after contact with these products, switch to unscented products and see whether your cat’s symptoms resolve.If the test is positive and the symptoms resolve on their own, keep using the unscented products.
  1. Allergic reactions to insects
Acute allergic reactions to insect bites are an alarming type of allergy. Fortunately they are not very common. However, it should be noted, that if the cat’s reaction to the allergen is severe enough, it can go in an anaphylactic shock. As in humans, anaphylactic shocks in cats, if not properly treated can be fatal. Additionally, bitten cats will display local skin changes around the biting/stinging spot.The treatment depends on the severity of the cat’s reaction. Some cats will get better after a simple antihistamine treatment (oral and topical), while others may require full anti-shock treatment.
  1. Drug allergies
Allergies to drugs are theoretically possible but relatively rare in cats. However, any cat can potentially have an adverse reaction to particular drug. The symptoms of drug allergies in cats are quite diverse and may include itching, hives, hair loss, fever and vomiting. In more severe cases, the drug may trigger anaphylaxis, thus causing breathing difficulties, seizures, collapse and even death.If you suspect your cat is having an adverse reaction to some drug, call your veterinarian immediately. Depending on the severity of the case, some cats will need antihistamine therapy, while others may require full anti-shock treatment.In conclusion, if you are find your cat shows any of the mentioned symptoms, it would be best to consult with a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist. With timely and proper treatment, your cat should recover to the old-self in no time!