It’s not always well-known that cats can experience allergy symptoms much like humans can. Sneezing, watery eyes, itching and other problems are actually quite common in our feline friends, and one of the top causes of these issues is seasonal allergies.
Things like pollen and grass can cause our cats some serious frustration during spring and summer, as our open windows let in a constant stream of allergen-filled air. However, this may lead some cat owners to believe that allergies can only occur during the warm-weathered months when plants are alive and growing. Really, cats can experience allergies all year long—even in winter.
What Could Cause Winter Allergies in Cats?
If your cat suffers from allergies, it’s because its immune system has mistakenly labeled an allergen—sometimes a food, dust or other substance—as a threat and creates antibodies that attack when your cat comes into contact with it.
If your cat experiences seasonal allergies and reacts to things like pollen, grass, ragweed or other “warm-weather” allergens, it will likely find some relief in the winter season when these allergens are not present. However, not all cats have the same allergens, meaning your cat may react to allergies still present during winter.
There are multiple types of allergies cats might suffer from in the cold months. Some are environmental and airborne, which are very similar to seasonal allergies and might come from within the home. When the doors and windows close up, your pet may actually experience more allergy symptoms than before, as central heating circulates allergens like dust and mold every day. Other allergens might be related to your cat’s daily diet.
- Environmental allergies: Environmental allergies are reactions to household or airborne substances like dust, mold and cleaning products. Environmental allergens most commonly result in atopic dermatitis, which is a reaction on the skin after contact with an allergenic substance. Atopic dermatitis may cause small, red, itchy bumps on your cat’s skin, as well as redness and inflammation, causing your cat to go haywire with itching, biting or licking. It can also lead to secondary problems such as hair loss, open wounds and bacterial infections.
- Food allergies: On the other hand, food allergies usually manifest as gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea. Food allergies can occur throughout the entire year, whenever your cat eats a food it is allergic to.
Allergies may produce the following symptoms:
- Skin inflammation
- Red bumps
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Hair loss
- Gastrointestinal problems
Help Your Cat Avoid Allergies in the Winter
If you notice your cat is experiencing symptoms of allergies, it would be wise to visit the vet and have tests run to determine if allergies are truly the problem and to get to the root of the issue. Sometimes, removing a particular food from your cat’s diet is all it takes to keep your pet healthy.
In other situations, your cat may be allergic to a household item or substance like dust. These can be harder to eradicate and may require additional care to help your cat alleviate its allergies.
- Use a HEPA filter: A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is a particular type of mechanical filter that is very good at removing small particles from the air. This type of filter is particularly well-known for allergy relief (for both humans and pets!) because of its ability to trap around 99.7 percent of all foreign particles circulating through your home.
- Give it baths: If your cat is allergic to something like dust, which is not easily removed from the home entirely, it may have continuous atopic dermatitis. You can give your cat a bath using oatmeal shampoo to help soothe its itchy skin and relieve pain and inflammation.
- Keep the house clean: Vacuum frequently and wash your cat’s bed, toys and favorite clothing or blankets to keep them free of allergens. If you know the specific allergen that your cat has a significant reaction to (such as a particular perfume), avoid using that item in the house.
- Provide allergy supplements: If your cat’s allergies are not severe enough to warrant the use of antihistamines or other medications, you might want to try using a natural supplement designed to reduce allergy symptoms.
With a little extra effort to keep your home clean and free of allergens, your cat will have a much easier time during winter. Try your hardest to keep known allergens away from your cat and keep an eye out for any other substances that may be causing problems with your cat’s health.