Cats Who Have Hay Fever

by Carlye Jones, Demand Media
    Pollen can set off allergic reactions in some cats.

    Pollen can set off allergic reactions in some cats.

    It's easy to see the wild side in even the most domestic kitty. This probably explains why it's hard to imagine that your rough-and-tumble cat could suffer from something like hay fever. Allergies aren't uncommon in cats though, and treating your furry friend's allergies could help him feel better.

    Seasonal Allergies

    Hay fever in cats is pretty much the same as it is in humans. Your cat's immune reacts to pollen as if it were a foreign invader. This type of allergy usually develops over several years. Each time your cat breathes in the pollen that he's allergic to, his immune system has a bigger reaction. Feline hay fever is often referred to as seasonal allergies because it usually only happens during certain times of the year when plants and grass are releasing pollen.

    Symptoms

    As with humans, cats with hay fever often have runny noses and watery eyes. Your cat might also sneeze, cough or wheeze. Because his eyes, nose and possibly even his ears are itchy, he might also have sores or missing patches of fur on his face and neck from scratching. It's not uncommon for cats with hay fever to develop an upper respiratory infection since bacteria breeds quickly in all the extra mucus.

    Diagnosis

    It can be hard to get a diagnosis when your cat has hay fever because the symptoms are similar to so many other things. Since he can't tell you what's going on, it's also hard to figure out what's causing your cat's allergies. Your vet may want to do allergy testing to see whether he's reacting to pollen or if something else is causing his problem, like a certain food or something else in his environment like cleaning products or scented litter.

    Treatment

    In a perfect world, allergies could be treated by keeping your cat away from triggers. But even if you can figure out exactly what he's allergic to, it's hard to keep him from being exposed to it. Keeping him inside, changing air filters in the heater or cooler, vacuuming and dusting frequently and brushing your cat regularly can help. Your vet might prescribe daily antihistamines, and if his allergies are really bad, your cat might need a course of steroids to get the symptoms under control. Allergy shots can also help reduce your cat's reaction to certain allergens over the long term.

    About the Author

    Carlye Jones is a journalist, writer, photographer, novelist and artisan jeweler with more than 20 years of experience. She enjoys sharing her expertise on home improvements, photography, crafting, business and travel. Her work has appeared both in print and on numerous websites.

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