Cat Skin Allergies

icon September 1, 2023

Skin allergies in cats can cause discomfort, itching and other unpleasant symptoms. In this article, we'll explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments of cat skin allergies to help ensure the health of your feline friend. And we'll also recommend allergy medications for cats.

Can Cats Have Seasonal Allergies?

Yes, cats can have seasonal allergies, just like humans. Seasonal allergies in cats are usually caused by environmental allergens such as pollen, grasses, trees, mold spores, and dust mites. When a cat with allergies comes into contact with these allergens, their immune system can react in a way that leads to symptoms.

Treating Seasonal Allergies in Cats

If your cat has received a diagnosis of seasonal allergies, you have the option to explore remedies that can be administered at home:

  • Administering oral antihistamines

  • Using topically applied wipes and shampoos

  • Incorporating Omega-3 fatty acids into their diet

  • Providing them with probiotics


Chlorpheniramine is available for purchase at most pharmacies. The primary antihistamines used for cats are Benadryl and Chlorpheniramine. Generally, chlorpheniramine is considered safe for most cats, with a recommended dosage of 1-2mg every 8-12 hours. However, it's important to note that administering chlorpheniramine to cats can result in varying reactions, such as lethargy in some and hyperactivity in others. It's not suitable for all cats, and its use should be avoided in cats with glaucoma, prostate disease, urinary tract obstruction, gastric or intestinal obstruction, high blood pressure, or hyperthyroidism.

In cases where chlorpheniramine is ineffective for allergic cats, alternative over-the-counter antihistamines like Benadryl and Clemastine are available. It's crucial to consult your veterinarian to determine the most suitable option for your cat and the correct dosage to administer. For optimal results, antihistamines are most effective when given preemptively before the onset of itching.

Topically Applied Sprays and Shampoos

Giving oral antihistamines to a cat with allergy symptoms in conjunction with washing allergens off your cat is recommended to reduce exposure to allergens.

Some topical sprays and shampoos are designed to help relieve skin irritation caused by allergies in cats. These products may contain soothing ingredients that can help alleviate itching and discomfort. However, it's important to choose products specifically formulated for cats and to follow the manufacturer's instructions and your veterinarian's recommendations.

You could also try using a spray designed to reduce itching such as Puainta Anti-itch spray.
Veterinary shampoos and conditioners, like Puainta® Sensitive Skin Shampoo, are also formulated to quickly reduce itching and dryness.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the severity of allergic reactions in cats during allergy seasons. Especially EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are known to have anti-inflammatory effects. Seasonal allergies often involve an immune response that triggers inflammation in the body, leading to symptoms such as itching, redness, and irritation. Omega-3s might help modulate the immune response and reduce the inflammatory reactions that contribute to allergy symptoms.

It's important to note that while omega-3 fatty acids might offer some benefits, they should not be considered a standalone treatment for seasonal allergies in cats. In some cases, you should try a combination of approaches, which could include antihistamines, topical treatments, hypoallergenic diets, and possibly omega-3 supplements.


Probiotics work by promoting a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. An imbalance in gut microbiota can lead to inflammation and immune system dysregulation, which may contribute to the development of allergies. By supporting a balanced gut environment, probiotics may help regulate the immune response and reduce allergic reactions.

Other Causes of Cat Skin Allergies

Cat skin allergies can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from environmental triggers to food sensitivities. Some common causes include:

1. Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)

Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is a common skin condition in cats that occurs as a result of an allergic reaction to flea bites. Even a single flea bite can trigger a strong allergic response in sensitive cats. 

Cat Skin Allergies

Symptoms Of Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)

Cats with FAD will scratch, bite, and lick themselves excessively, especially around the base of the tail, lower back, abdomen, and hindquarters. Due to constant scratching and grooming, affected cats may develop hair loss, which can lead to bald patches and skin inflammation. It can also develop small red bumps, scabs, or crusts.

Treatments for Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Flea Control

The most important step is to control the flea infestation. Regularly treat your cat with veterinarian-approved flea prevention products. These can include topical treatments, oral medications, or flea collars. 

1-0-67ml-3.webpFipronil Flea and Tick Treatment for Dogs and Cats is a fast-acting, long-lasting and waterproof flea and tick protection proven to kill fleas, lice, eggs and ticks. Designed for dogs and cats eight weeks of age and older. Stored in the oil glands of your pet's skin, one easy topical application works for 30 days.



Antihistamines are often prescribed to help alleviate the itching and discomfort associated with the allergic reaction. Common antihistamines used in pets include

  • diphenhydramine

  • chlorpheniramine

  • cetirizine

  • loratadine

However, it's important to note that their effectiveness can vary from pet to pet, and a veterinarian should determine the appropriate dosage.


  • Apoquel

  • Prednisone

  • Prednisolone

  • Triamcinolone

  • Betamethasone

They are powerful anti-inflammatory medications that can provide quick relief from severe itching and inflammation. These medications are generally used for short-term management of acute flare-ups due to their potential side effects with prolonged use.

Your veterinarian may prescribe antihistamines to help reduce itching and inflammation. Make sure to use medications specifically approved for cats and follow the recommended dosage.

Topical Treatments

Medicated shampoos, sprays, or spot-on treatments can help provide relief from itching and soothe inflamed skin.

da06a656c666455aa18fd5fdfdf07c42.webpThe shampoo and spray consist of extracts derived from natural ingredients, known for their mild and non-irritating qualities. These extracts include potential antibacterial properties that efficiently alleviate itching and disinfect the skin. Alongside the antibiotic ointment, they work in tandem to swiftly rejuvenate your cat's skin back to its original state.

2. Environmental Allergens

Cats can develop allergies to various environmental allergens. These allergies are typically referred to as atopic dermatitis or allergic dermatitis. Common environmental allergens that can affect cats include pollen, dust mites, mold spores, and other airborne particles. One of the primary signs of environmental allergies in cats is excessive itching. Cats may scratch themselves excessively, lick their fur, chew at their paws, or rub against furniture in an attempt to relieve the itchiness. Scratching and excessive grooming can lead to the formation of skin lesions, sores, and even secondary bacterial infections. These lesions can become crusty or scabbed over time.  Cats with allergies may also develop ear problems, including inflammation, itching, and ear infections.

Cat Skin Allergies

Treatment of cat allergies caused by environmental allergens

Minimize exposure to allergens by keeping the cat indoors during high pollen seasons, using air purifiers, regularly cleaning and vacuuming the living environment, and maintaining proper humidity levels.


  • Antihistamines: Some antihistamines can be used to reduce itching and inflammation in cats. Some cats respond well to certain antihistamines, such as chlorpheniramine maleate, while others are ineffective.

  • Steroids: In cases of severe itching and inflammation, veterinarians might prescribe short-term steroid medications to provide relief. 

Topical Treatments:

  • Medicated Shampoos: Certain medicated shampoos can help soothe irritated skin and remove allergens from the fur. 

  • Topical Creams: Creams or ointments containing corticosteroids can provide relief for localized areas of inflammation.

In some cases, veterinarians may recommend allergy testing to identify specific allergens triggering the cat's reactions. Based on the results, immunotherapy (allergy shots) might be considered to desensitize the cat's immune system to the allergens over time.

There are a few methods that veterinarians commonly use to perform environmental allergen testing:

  • Intradermal Skin Testing: This is one of the most accurate methods for identifying environmental allergies in pets. A small area of the pet's skin is shaved, and a series of small amounts of allergen extracts are injected just under the skin. The veterinarian then monitors the pet for any allergic reactions, such as localized swelling or redness. This helps identify which allergens trigger an allergic response in the animal.

  • Serum Allergy Testing (Blood Testing): Blood tests can be used to measure the levels of specific antibodies (immunoglobulin E or IgE) in response to different allergens. A blood sample is taken from the pet, and the levels of IgE specific to various allergens are measured. This can help identify which allergens the pet is sensitized to, although it may not be as precise as intradermal testing.

  • Environmental Allergen Panels: These panels contain a range of common environmental allergens, and the veterinarian can apply these allergens to the pet's skin or use blood samples to measure the pet's reaction to them. This approach is often used in cases where a specific allergen cannot be easily identified based on the pet's clinical history.

  • Elimination Diets and Environmental Control: While not a direct testing method, sometimes veterinarians will recommend an elimination diet or environmental control measures to identify potential allergens. By removing certain foods or changing the pet's environment, veterinarians can observe if the allergic symptoms improve. If they do, reintroducing potential allergens one by one can help pinpoint the specific triggers.

  • Patch Testing: Similar to intradermal skin testing, patch testing involves applying allergens directly to the skin, often on the pet's back. The patches are usually left in place for a set period of time, and any reactions are monitored. This method is less commonly used in veterinary medicine than in human dermatology.

3. Food Allergies

Food allergies in cats occur when their immune system reacts abnormally to certain proteins or ingredients in their diet. Common food allergens for cats include chicken, beef, dairy products, and grains. When a cat consumes an allergen, their immune system produces an exaggerated response, leading to various symptoms. It's important to note that food allergies are different from food intolerances, where the digestive system reacts negatively to certain substances without involving the immune system.

Food Allergies

Symptoms of Food Allergies in Cats

Symptoms of food allergies in cats can vary widely and may include:

  • Skin Issues: Itching, scratching, excessive grooming, hair loss, and the development of skin lesions or sores.

  • Gastrointestinal Distress: Vomiting, diarrhea, or frequent bowel movements.

  • Ear Infections: Recurrent ear infections or inflammation.

  • Respiratory Symptoms: Sneezing, coughing, or wheezing in some cases.

  • Redness and Swelling: Around the face, particularly the eyes and ears.

  • Lethargy: Reduced energy levels and overall activity.

  • Poor Coat Condition: Dull or thinning fur.

Treatment of Food Allergies in Cats

Testing for allergens: Your vet might recommend an elimination diet to identify the specific allergen causing the reaction. This involves feeding your cat a novel protein source (one that it hasn't been exposed to before) and limiting ingredients for a specific period, usually around 8 to 12 weeks. If symptoms improve, your vet may reintroduce old foods one at a time to pinpoint the allergen.

Medication: In some cases, your vet might prescribe medications to help alleviate the symptoms. These can include antihistamines for itching and inflammation, or even steroids for severe reactions. In cases of intense diarrhea and vomiting, your veterinarian will additionally provide prescriptions for antiemetic and antidiarrheal medication to alleviate the symptoms.

4. Contact Allergies in Cats

Contact allergies in cats, also known as allergic contact dermatitis, occur when a cat's skin comes into direct contact with substances that trigger an allergic reaction. These substances are called contact allergens. Common contact allergens for cats include certain fabrics, cleaning products, detergents, plastics, rubber, and even certain plants.

Symptoms of Contact Allergies in Cats

Cats with contact allergies usually exhibit intense itching, scratching, biting, and licking at the affected area. In more severe cases, contact allergies can cause blisters or pustules to form on the skin.

Treatments for Contact Allergies in Cats

If you suspect a particular material or substance is causing the allergy, try to remove it from the cat's environment. This might involve changing bedding materials, avoiding certain cleaning products, or limiting exposure to potential allergens.

Your veterinarian may prescribe or recommend topical treatments to soothe the affected skin. These could include medicated shampoos, creams, or ointments to alleviate itching and inflammation.

To prevent your cat from exacerbating the irritation through excessive scratching, your veterinarian might recommend the use of an E-collar temporarily.


How much allergy medicine for cats?

Every type of allergy medication comes with its designated dosage. For instance, when dealing with allergies related to cats, the prescribed amount of Chlorpheniramine is 1-2 mg to be taken every 8-12 hours. On the other hand, for benadryl, the suggested dose is 1 mg per pound of body weight, to be taken orally once a day.

What allergy medicine is best for cats?

Common antihistamines that may be used for cats include:

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl): This antihistamine is sometimes used in cats, but the dosage should be carefully calculated by a veterinarian.

  • Chlorpheniramine: Another antihistamine that may be used for cats. Again, proper dosage is important.

  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec): Some veterinarians prescribe cetirizine for cats, but dosage should be determined by a professional.

Is there allergy medicine for cats?

Yes, there are allergy medicines available for cats. 

Some common allergy medicines for cats might include:

  • Antihistamines

  • Corticosteroids

  • Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots)

  • Fatty Acid Supplements

  • Prescription Diets

How long for cat food allergies to go away?

In some cases, mild food allergies might resolve relatively quickly. If the allergen is identified and removed from the cat's diet, you might see improvement within a few weeks. However, more severe allergies might take longer to subside.

Can food allergies cause sneezing in cats?

While food allergies in cats are more commonly associated with gastrointestinal symptoms (such as vomiting and diarrhea) or skin issues (like itching and dermatitis), it's less likely that they directly cause sneezing. Sneezing in cats is more often linked to respiratory issues, such as infections, irritants, or allergies to airborne particles like pollen or dust mites.

How long does flea allergy dermatitis last in cats?

The duration of flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) in cats can vary widely depending on several factors, including the severity of the allergy, the effectiveness of flea control measures, and individual variations in the cat's immune response. With proper flea control measures in place, including regular flea treatments, grooming, and maintaining a clean living environment, the symptoms of FAD can start to improve within a few weeks.

What does a cat flea allergy look like?

A cat flea allergy, also known as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), is a common skin condition that occurs in cats due to an allergic reaction to flea bites. It is one of the most common allergies in cats. The primary trigger for this allergy is the saliva of fleas, which contains proteins that can cause an allergic response in sensitive cats. Here's what a cat flea allergy looks like:

Excessive Scratching and Biting: Cats with flea allergies will often exhibit intense itching. They may scratch and bite their skin excessively, particularly around the base of the tail, the neck, and along the back.

Hair Loss: Due to constant scratching and licking, affected cats may experience hair loss in the areas where they scratch the most. This can lead to thinning fur and even bald patches.

Redness and Inflammation: The skin in the affected areas can become red, inflamed, and irritated. It might look redder than usual and may be warm to the touch.

Bumps and Sores: The constant scratching and biting can cause the skin to develop small bumps, pustules, or open sores. These can become more prone to infection if not treated promptly.

Scabs and Crusts: Over time, the affected areas might develop scabs or crusts due to the cat's attempts to alleviate the itching by scratching.

Restlessness and Irritability: Cats suffering from flea allergies can become restless and irritable due to the discomfort caused by itching and skin irritation.

Licking and Chewing: Cats might excessively lick and chew their paws or other parts of their body in an attempt to alleviate the itching. This can lead to further irritation and hair loss in those areas.


In conclusion, cat skin allergies can be uncomfortable and distressing for your feline companion. By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and seeking veterinary care, you can help manage your cat's skin allergies and ensure a happy, healthy life for your furry friend.



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