Common Allergies in Cats in Crown Point, IN

Allergies can be a challenge for cats when their immune systems overreact or become hypersensitive to certain substances known as allergens. These reactions can cause a variety of symptoms such as itchy skin, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, nasal or ocular discharge, vomiting, flatulence, and diarrheacat allergies crown point, in

Find out the most common types of cat allergies by reading our Crown Point, IN, animal hospital‘s article below.

Common Types of Allergies

There are four common types of allergies in cats: insect (fleas), food, atopic dermatitis (house dust, pollen, and molds), and contact.

Flea Allergy

While most cats experience mild skin irritation when bitten by fleas, allergic cats have a much stronger reaction even from just a single bite. This intense itching can lead to hair loss and secondary bacterial skin infections. Typically, the affected areas are the rump and legs, but cats may also develop scabs around their head and neck, known as miliary dermatitis due to the scabs’ resemblance to millet seeds.


Flea infestations most commonly occur in warmer weather, but they can occur all year round. As such, strict prevention treatment is the foundation of protecting your cat. Treatments, in tablet or topical ointment form, are available. There are also special collars that particularly susceptible cats can wear to repel fleas.


Aside from the preventative methods mentioned, corticosteroids can be given to cats to block the allergy reaction and provide relief to intense itching on the skin. If a secondary bacterial infection occurs, antibiotics will typically be used to treat it.  

Food Allergy

Food allergies in cats most commonly develop in response to the protein component of their diet, such as beef, pork, chicken, or seafood. However, certain vegetable proteins like corn and wheat can also trigger allergies in some cases. Cats with food allergies may experience itching, digestive disorders, and respiratory distress.

Allergic cats may develop itching, digestive disorders, and respiratory distress.

Your vet will likely recommend testing if any of the symptoms mentioned, or others, have been present for several months, if the cat has a poor reaction to prescribed steroids, or a very young cat’s itching continues without other apparent causes. This testing involves feeding the effected cat a diet including ingredients (such as duck, rabbit, or venison) that it has not previously been fed.

It takes at least eight weeks for food products to be eliminated from the body, so this special diet will need to be fed to your cat for at least that amount of time—or longer. It’s worth noting that this diet needs to be incredibly strict, meaning no additional treats or other food should be given during the testing time.


After the testing period, if the cat responds well to the special diet, your vet will make a presumptive diagnosis of a food allergy. After that, the hypoallergenic diet should continue throughout the cat’s life. This is said to be the most successful way to treat a food allergy in felines.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, or atopy, refers to the allergic reactions to environmental allergens like pollens, grasses, molds, mildew, and house dust mites. The reactions may occur seasonally or year-round. In humans, atopy is called “hay fever.”

In cats, the reaction to these allergens is typically severe, generalized itching.


Treatment of atopy depends largely on the length of a particular cat’s allergy season, but there are a few main approaches.

Hypoallergenic Food Trial

A vet will likely recommend a cat suspected of having atopic dermatitis to be put on a hypoallergenic diet because cats with atopy typically are also allergic to something in their foods. As already mentioned, these diets should be exclusive and last for up eight weeks or longer.


Corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone) as sprays and shampoos aim to improve the health of a cat’s hair and skin. And oral or injectable steroids will block the allergic reaction and, in most cases, rapidly improve the cat’s clinical signs.


Antihistamines are effective in some cats with atopy, especially chlorphenamine maleate (Chlor-trimeton® or Chlortipolon®). But it’s important to understand that it can take seven to 10 days before antihistamine can become effective—so, they should typically not be used for sudden flare-ups.

Essential Fatty Acids

Like antihistamines, essential fatty acids are not generally used to treat sudden allergic episodes. However, cats predisposed to atopic dermatitis could try fatty acid supplements to see if they help reduce future flare-ups.

Immunosuppressive Drug Therapy

Immunosuppressive drug therapy, such as cyclosporine (Atopica®)—which targets the immune cells involved in atopic dermatitis to reduce a hypersensitive reaction that the cat’s body is experiencing. But it can take up to 30 days to achieve the maximum benefit of the drug. Therefore, it is also not suitable for sudden onset reactions.

Allergy Shots

If one the specific allergens is determined through blood testing, shots or oral medication can be administered that include small amounts of it to “reprogram” the body’s immune system response to it. It’s important to note that the goal of this treatment is to reduce the itching rather than eliminate it. However, some cats may experience complete relief.

Contact Allergies

Contact allergies, although the least common type of allergies in cats, result in a local reaction on the skin from contact with allergic substances. Examples include certain shampoos, flea collars, and certain types of bedding (such as wool). Removal of the irritant will resolve the symptoms, but it can often be hard to pinpoint exactly what allergen is bothering you cat.

Our Crown Point, IN, Vets are Here to Help with Your Cat’s Allergies

Cats can suffer from several of allergies, but the identification of the allergen and related treatment to reduce the symptoms are the most important parts of maintaining a cat’s happy and healthy life.

If you suspect your cat has allergies, stop by our Crown Point, IN, animal hospital, and our veterinarians can test and treat them for allergies. 

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