The most common cat allergies we encounter are flea bite allergies. These allergies lead to symptoms such as scratching, scabs on their necks, and sensitivity around the tail head. You might also see crusting and black spots, which is flea dirt or feces. It's also important to note that food allergies can occur in cats, leading to conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The second most common allergy we see is mosquito bite hypersensitivity. Mosquitos will typically bite a cat's ears since there is not a lot of hair there, causing cats to scratch their ears raw.
Flea and tick prevention is critical. Using a product like Bravecto Plus every other month can provide your cat with protection not only against fleas and ticks but also heartworms. Many cat owners don't give preventatives at home, but they have a dog that's on prevention. However, fleas can hitch a ride on a dog that goes in and out of the house. Despite fleas not preferring humans, they can hitch a ride on us too, hence the importance of prevention.
Signs and symptoms of allergies in cats include itching, scratching, scabs around the neck, flea dirt, and sensitivity around the tail base. Cats are meticulous groomers, so it is rare to see a flea on a cat. If you do, it means you probably have a hefty infestation. With cats, you should look out for sensitive skin, scratching, and over grooming. You may also see barbering, which occurs with different types of allergies. Sometimes cats will get allergies to their own skin mites, which causes them to grow bold. Environmental allergies can also cause barbering, but it's usually due to an overgrowth of their own skin mites.
What if you're wrong? What if you think that they have fleas but it's actually a mosquito bite allergy or what if your cat actually has food allergies? Even though it is rare, it does happen. What if you're wrong and you're putting your cat through unnecessary things and spending unnecessary money? Then, when you find out you're wrong, not only have you put your cat through X, Y, Z, but you've also spent the money on X, Y, Z and now you have to spend more money on X, Y, Z at the vet. So it's best to just come see your veterinarian, let us make an appropriate diagnosis, and let us help you. We can work as a team. I am super happy when my clients do their research because that means I can work with you because you already have the education. A lot of what I have to do is educate owners so they learn about these kinds of things, but if you come armed with that information, it's much easier and faster to get resolution and get you guys back home because I understand that everyone has limited time and we try to be respectful of that.
Physical exams are huge, as well as clinical signs or symptoms. If I know a cat is scratching at their ears, I'm going to look in their ears. I'm also going to be looking at the skin around their ears and see if it is an infection or maybe mosquito by hypersensitivity. We may do a skin cytology where we put a microscope slide on the skin, stain it, and look under the microscope. We might also do a skin scrape where we're looking for skin mites. These tools help us make a diagnosis.
Based on that diagnosis, we will make a decision on whether we need antibiotics or a short acting steroid injection. Do we need any topical therapies? Do they need to wear a cone so they can stop shredding their ears? Do they have an ear infection that needs to be treated? So there are a lot of different treatments, but we have to do the diagnostics and a physical exam because our patients can't talk to us. With human doctors, we can talk to them so they can hear about our symptoms. Our patients can't talk to us, so that physical exam is so important and that's something that I went to school for for a very long time. I've been practicing for 10 years now, and my physical exam has been honed by all these years of experience. It's a huge part of diagnosing allergies and also figuring out what form of treatment is going to be the best fit for your cat.
It depends on what kind of allergies we're seeing. With a mosquito bite hypersensitivity, we'll consider whether your cat is going outside. Maybe they need to be an indoor cat. Problem solved. There are some easy fixes. Is your cat having diarrhea and we've ruled out everything else, and it looks like it's inflammatory bowel disease? Maybe we need to do a diet change. If we have fleas, flea prevention is the answer. The good news is that, with allergies, especially of the external parasite kind, there's a fix. Now we have to keep up with the fix. So if you just do one flea treatment when a flea life cycle is three months, but the flea treatment only lasts for two months, we're going to be back where we started with the same problem all over again. So please follow the recommendations to the best of your ability.
Put a reminder in your phone and keep up with your rechecks. With a lot of antibiotics that we'll use, I will recheck within seven to 10 days and see where we're at. Some skin infections that are caused by skin allergies or self trauma require another injection, and it might look fine, but you have to remember we're only seeing the top layers of the skin. There are so many layers of skin. While the top layers may be cured, the bottom layer may still have symptoms and you won't see those for a few weeks. It saves you money to make sure you keep up with your rechecks.
If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (281) 801-1444, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram