Many people, even experienced pet owners, are surprised to learn that animals can be just as likely to experience allergies as we are. If you are the proud parent to a cute cat, you could be forgiven for thinking that is she did have any allergies then you would know about it by the time she reaches her senior years. While this is often the case, sometimes allergies don’t manifest fully, or at all, until your furbaby becomes much older. One of the reasons behind this is the changes that naturally happen in her body as a result of the ageing process. Where she may once have been able to cope with an intolerance without you realizing, her compromised immune system may now mean that symptoms of the allergy become obvious fairly quickly.
Much like us, there are a variety of different things that your senior cat may be allergic to, and these are often broken down into several different categories.
Your senior cat and environmental allergies
The most common type of allergies experienced by senior cats in the U.S. are classed as environmental allergies. This is because they are triggered by changes in the environment in which your pet lives, be it inside your home or outside in the big, wide world. Many environmental allergies are seasonal, such as certain pollens being more prevalent in spring and fall. Other common environmental allergens include mold spores and dust.
It may not be immediately obvious that your senior cat has an environmental allergy, particularly since animals have a natural instinct to mask any signs of weakness or illness. However, some signs to look out for include:
Excessive itching and scratching anywhere on her body
Persistently licking or chewing her paws and paw pads
Poor quality, lacklustre coat
If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should seek the advice of your vet as soon as possible.
Your senior cat and food allergies
Food allergies tend to be the type of allergy that people are most surprised that their pet is affected by. However, hypersensitivity to certain foods is actually fairly common in many animals, including cats. Some of the most prevalent food allergens that could affect your senior feline include corn products, dairy products, seafood, meat by-products and preservatives.
How do you know if your cat has a food allergy? Symptoms will include:
Discharge from the eyes/nose
Itching of the ears
Shaking of the head
Skin problems including scaling, flaking and rashes
If you suspect that your senior cat has a food allergy, your veterinarian will assist you in implementing an elimination diet to try and find the source of your kitty’s allergy.
Your senior cat and flea allergies
Fleas are a very common parasite and one that will likely affect most animals at least once during their lifetime. While it is possible to protect your cat from fleas, the preventative treatments rely on you administering them on a very strict schedule and even being just a day or two late could leave your furbaby vulnerable to infestation. Unfortunately, it isn’t just the rapid reproduction and potentially large blood loss that you need to worry about affecting your cat. Flea saliva actually contains a toxin in itself, and when one of these parasites bites your senior cat, they will transfer some of this toxin onto her skin and into her bloodstream. While for many cats this will cause irritation and itching, other felines are allergic to the saliva and will experience a much more severe, skin-based reaction known as flea allergy dermatitis. This presents in the form of skin problems around the bites that may be:
Broken and infected as a result of excessive scratching
Hot to the touch
Many flea allergies lead to secondary skin infections, and these will need to be treated with antibiotic lotions or medicines, as well as re-administering effective flea preventatives. Your vet will be able to support you with this and help get your senior cat comfortable again.
If you are concerned that your senior cat may have an allergy, don’t delay in seeking professional intervention. Please contact our animal hospital in Pelham, AL.