Humans aren’t the only ones affected by allergies. Like you, your adult cat can suffer from allergic reactions to any number of things in the air, on her skin and in her food. Allergies must be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian, but first you must know what to look for.
The Most Common Cat Allergies
Four of the most common types of allergies that might affect your cat are inhalant, food, contact and flea allergies.
Inhalant allergies in cats are caused by the same common allergens that affect you: dust, grass, trees, mold, pollen, ragweed and so on. They can be seasonal or persistent, and while some breeds may experience the same sniffly, sneezy symptoms humans often suffer, skin reactions are most common. Inhalant allergies can often be treated with the same medications you take, but please don’t treat your cat’s allergies without veterinary supervision.
Food allergies in cats can be the most difficult to diagnose and manage. Treatment involves a hit-or-miss approach involving a restricted diet and the gradual reintroduction of possible allergens to determine the culprit. Skin reactions to food allergies are common in cats, but frequent vomiting or diarrhea also can be a sign. Keep in mind that if your cat’s diet changes (or she just ate something she wasn’t supposed to), she may experience an episode of vomiting or diarrhea. This doesn’t necessarily mean your cat has an allergy. Watch and see if it becomes a persistent problem before scheduling a trip to the vet.
Contact and Flea Allergies
You might be surprised to learn that most cats are only vaguely bothered by fleas. But those that are allergic can suffer — and so can their owners. Contact and flea allergies generally cause skin irritation in cats and are treated topically. Cats with contact and flea allergies often chew their skin raw, leading to hair loss, odor and infection, so fastidious flea control is a must.
Signs of Allergies in Cats
The most common allergy symptoms in cats are skin reactions, regardless of the cause, and they can appear at any age. Just because your cat didn’t have allergies as a kitten doesn’t mean she won’t have them as an adult. If your cat suffers from any of the following symptoms, take her to the vet for a consultation:
- Persistent scratching, licking and skin chewing
- Face and ear rubbing
- Inflamed skin patches, hair loss and foul odor
- Coughing, sneezing, watery eyes and runny nose
- Frequent vomiting or diarrhea
Allergies can vary from cat to cat, so it is important that you work with your vet to make sure your cat gets the best possible treatment. You’ll both be happier as a result.
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This article is part of a series on how to spot signs of a healthy cat. You can learn more about the key signs here.
Cats don’t lack personality; that’s for sure. They can be shy, outgoing, snuggly, independent, energetic, relaxed and everything in between. Yet some breeds tend to exhibit certain traits more strongly than others. Here are our picks for what we’re calling the Cat Personality Awards.
The friendliest cat breed:
This larger cat has a big heart to match. They’re often very social and happy to chat with you, whether they’re curled up on your lap or following you around the house. They make excellent family pets because more family members means more people to snuggle and play with.
Also outgoing: Ragdoll, Siamese, Burmese
The most laid-back cat breed:
Gentle and calm, this soft and silky-furred feline is friendly without being demanding. Ragdolls are usually totally cool sharing a house with other pets and kids. They don’t stress much about routine changes or even being carried around. Their motto? It’s all good.
Other cool kitties: Scottish fold, Birman, British shorthair
The most playful cat breed:
Making up around 90% of cats in the U.S., with more than 80 colors and patterns, domestic shorthairs are a melting pot of different breeds. They were originally working cats used to hunt mice and other critters on farms. They still love to stalk, hunt and pounce on toys and play games with their owners — so expect to spend lots of energetic playtime together.
Also ready to play: Siamese, Maine coon, Manx
The most independent cat breed:
This popular breed has been around humans since the 1600s, but is satisfied doing its own thing. Gentle, docile and quiet, Persian cats don’t insist on a lot of attention. They’re just as content sitting on your lap or observing what’s going on by themselves from a sunny perch across the room. They can be discerning in who they give their affection to, but you’ll be on their good side once you earn their trust.
Also fine on their own: Russian blue, American shorthair, Norwegian Forest cat
The most trainable cat breed:
The idea of training a cat may seem hilarious, but the curiosity and intelligence of Abyssinians make them highly trainable. Some can even be taught tricks or to walk on a leash and harness. Training and playing games are perfect ways to direct their affectionate energy.
Also eager to learn: Bengal, Siamese, American shorthair
The cleanest cat breed:
Owning this affectionate, hairless breed means you can spend more time cuddling and less time lint-rolling your clothes. They do require regular baths, but that just means more time to hang out together.
Other neat freaks: Siamese, Russian blue
The best cat for first-time owners:
it’s a toss-up!
Thinking of getting your first kitty? It’s hard to pick just one breed, so we’ve got three:
- Maine coons are super friendly and charming, and adapt well in a variety of living situations.
- Siamese are clean, love to talk and are very loyal.
- American shorthairs are smart, playful and independent.
Remember, most cats — especially those found in shelters — are a mix of breeds, which just means they often combine the best of all cat personality traits! Whatever personality you’re looking for in a cat, you’ll know it when you find your fuzzy soulmate.
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