When spring and summer roll around, people with allergies know to stock up on antihistamine and allergy relief products for when they head outside and face pollen, ragweed and other allergens. But while you know to prepare for allergy season since you go outside, you may forget that your furry friends indoors might still be affected.
Many pet owners think that seasonal allergies only affect pets that go outside and have direct contact with grass, pollen and other substances. Although allergies are certainly more common in pets that are rolling around in the grass, they can still affect pets that stay indoors! If your kitty suddenly begins to itch and scratch, sneeze, cough or wheeze, take note that it could be allergies.
How can allergies affect indoor cats?
Because your feline friend does not go outside and stroll among the airborne allergens, you might think they are safe from experiencing seasonal allergies. However, this isn’t always the case. Numerous things can expose your kitty to outside allergens and cause a reaction right around the start of spring and summer.
One of the most common is allergens blowing in through open windows and doors at the turn of the seasons. When the weather is nice, it’s normal to want a gentle breeze to pass through! Unfortunately, those breezes can pull pollen, mold particles and other airborne allergens inside where your cat is resting.
Another possible cause of allergies in your indoor kitty is from you tracking allergens inside on your shoes or even your clothes. If you walk in the grass, then leave your shoes on and walk through the house, your cat could come in contact with those allergens and begin suffering from dreadful itching and sneezing.
Finally, if you have the air conditioning on, it’s possible that your heating and cooling system might be trapping airborne allergens and circulating them through your home. This is also common in winter, when mold and dust can lead to sneezing kitties. If you haven’t changed your air filter or cleaned out your ducts, lurking allergens might be the culprit.
Spotting seasonal allergies in cats
Seasonal allergies often manifest in a few ways in cats. First, they can lead to a problem called atopic dermatitis, where the skin becomes red, bumpy and inflamed. Your cat will likely start to itch, lick or bite nonstop as a way to soothe the itchy feelings. Atopic dermatitis can be dangerous because it can lead to hair loss, open wounds and skin infections.
Respiratory responses are also possible in cats with seasonal allergies. Your kitty might develop red, watery eyes and a runny nose, followed by sneezing, coughing and wheezing. Respiratory illness due to allergies can be much more serious, since your cat might not be able to breathe properly, so proper treatment is essential.
How to put a stop to indoor seasonal allergies
Cats can have an allergic reaction when they inhale or come into contact with a substance their body has mistakenly identified as dangerous. Thus, the easiest way to provide your pet comfort is to limit their exposure to allergens.
Try keeping your windows closed if your kitty is displaying respiratory symptoms like sneezing and watery eyes. They might be inhaling allergens coming in from outside. Additionally, try keeping a HEPA filter, which removes almost all particles from the air, in the room your kitty hangs out in most often. This can help filter allergens out of the air and give your cat an easier time breathing.
To avoid tracking in pollen, grass and other allergens, take your shoes off right after you enter the home and avoid shaking out things like jackets or umbrellas inside. Frequent laundry, vacuuming and other cleaning can help remove allergen particles from around your home and limit your cat’s exposure.
Even the most stringent prevention measures might not be enough, though. If your kitty’s symptoms persist, speak with your vet about allergy testing and treatment options. Allergy supplements might be all your kitty needs if they display just a few minor symptoms, but cats with asthma might require a more robust treatment plan.
Be mindful of other allergy types
Of course, seasonal environmental allergies aren’t the only types of allergies cats can experience. If your kitty’s symptoms began before the turn of the seasons and persist well beyond spring or summer, they might actually be allergic to something you’re using in your home, such as perfume or cleaning products. An allergy test at the vet can help you narrow these allergens down.
And, if your cat is experiencing itchiness alongside vomiting or diarrhea, the culprit may actually be their food—not seasonal allergens. Pay close attention to their symptoms, especially if you try seasonal allergy prevention methods and see no improvement.
By monitoring your cat’s symptoms and taking simple steps to reduce their exposure to outdoor (or indoor) allergens, you can keep your feline friend calm, comfortable and happy.