Fleas or hay fever – what’s up with your itchy cat?
April 14, 2023
It’s that time of year that divides the nation, with many people suffering from hay fever and others having no idea what they’re complaining about… We’re sure cats would agree! Hay fever is one of the most common conditions in cats and humans and tends to strike during spring and summer, causing both distress and misery.
At All Creatures Healthcare in Norfolk, we see many cats suffering from grass or tree pollen allergies. While in humans these mostly affect the sinuses, in cats it’s their skin that mainly suffers – and such allergies can make your pet chronically ill.
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to help, as the following points explain.
If, after reading this, you still have questions, you can always contact us at our Norwich practice, where our team will be happy to offer some advice.
Understanding & treating cat hay fever
1. Symptoms of hay fever in cats
- Excessive licking & scratching, particularly on the ears and bottom
- Sores or bald patches around your cat’s face, neck, lower back, groin, tail or paws
- Itchy eyes
- Snoring – from an inflamed throat
- Paw chewing
While often linked to fleas, excessive licking and scratching can also be caused by an allergic reaction to pollen.
2. Check for fleas
As the symptoms are similar, it’s important to rule a possible flea infestation. You can do this by parting your cat’s fur in various places – narrow toothed flea combs are ideal for this – and looking for:
- Tiny black/brown insects moving and jumping
- Flea dirt (excretion) – tiny dark specs that turn red when blotted with water on kitchen towel
Check your cat (and any other cats and dogs in your home) are up to date with flea treatments and contact us if you’ve run out.
3. How we treat hay fever
If you think your cat could be suffering from hay fever, bring them to see us so we can run some tests and hopefully pinpoint the problem. Then we can prescribe treatments such as antihistamines and anti-allergy vaccines in severe cases.
IMPORTANT: Never give your cat antihistamines or any human medication without the explicit instruction of a vet. Some ingredients may be toxic to cats and the dosage will likely differ.
4. Can you prevent it?
As human hay fever sufferers know, it’s tough to avoid pollens. However, as well as anti-allergy injections or antihistamines, there are some natural methods that might help too:
- Run a damp cloth and a brush over your cat’s fur when they come in from outdoors to remove some of the pollen.
- Evening primrose oil has been proven effective in reducing allergic reactions. The liquid form can usually be added to cat food – always check the label first.
To make sure you’re providing the right type and dosage of preventative measures, why not ask us first? We’ll be happy to advise.