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What is Metal Allergy?

There are some cats that cannot tolerate certain metals so they will start showing signs of allergy in one or two days after exposure. One of the most obvious signs of metal allergy is painless ulcers on the lips or inside the mouth, which is called eosinophilic granuloma. Even though it is not painful, it may be uncomfortable when eating so it is imperative that you get it checked out by a veterinary professional. Because these types of allergies are usually delayed, not showing up for days after exposure, it makes it more difficult to determine what the allergen is.

Your cat’s food or water bowls could be causing your cat to get lesions in the mouth, face, and skin due to allergy. Some cats are allergic to nickel, but others are allergic to all kinds of metals. It could also be the collar or a certain toy your cat is playing with. Metal allergies are quite common, and it may take a while to figure out that it is something metal causing the reaction. While metal allergies are not usually too serious, some cats can have a condition called anaphylactic shock which closes the throat and can be fatal within minutes. It is vitally important to get your cat to a veterinary hospital right away. They can stop the swelling and then find out what your cat is allergic to so it does not happen again.

Symptoms of Metal Allergy in Cats

Even though the symptoms usually take more than 24 hours to become apparent, if it is caused by a metal food or water bowl, they will be a constant issue and may continue to get worse. Some of these symptoms are:

  • Intense scratching anywhere on the body but most often the head and neck
  • Biting and chewing on certain spots that itch
  • Red watery eyes
  • Large ulcer on top lip or inside mouth
  • Sores on the feet or inner thighs
  • Irritated red skin
  • Constant grooming


There are four types of allergies in cats, which include:

  • Immediate hypersensitivity is also called type I and is usually noticed right away; this kind of allergy is caused by cells that overreact to a certain food or other allergen
  • Antibody hypersensitivity, or type II, is controlled by the body’s antibody system, which attacks its own cells
  • Immune complex hypersensitivity, type III, is from the immune system overreacting, causing antibody-antigen complexes to form and get stuck in vital organs such as the kidney
  • Delayed hypersensitivity, also known as type IV, is a genetic allergy that does not show up until 24 hours after being exposed to the allergen

Causes of Metal Allergy in Cats

If your cat has a metal allergy, certain antibodies called IgE are made to attack the allergen (metal), which creates histamines that are released into the body, causing rash, skin itching, and gastric upset. It may also cause a dangerous effect called anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening condition that can cause your cat’s throat to swell enough to suffocate and become lethal.

Diagnosis of Metal Allergy in Cats

To diagnose your dog, there are special blood tests (radioallergosorbent test and allergen-specific IgE antibody test) as well as skin tests that can be done. However, first the veterinarian will need to do a complete physical assessment and get your pet’s medical history. Make sure you tell the veterinarian if you have given your cat any medication because that can complicate the diagnosis and treatment. Once that is done, the veterinarian will obtain some blood samples to run diagnostic tests. The allergy tests should give the veterinarian an idea of whether your cat is suffering from an allergy. However, additional tests will be done to eliminate other causes of the symptoms before deciding whether or not your dog has allergies.

Treatment of Metal Allergy in Cats

The treatment for metal allergy is usually just treating the symptoms and removing all metal from everywhere your cat is able to go. Treating the rash and ulcers will include oral and topical steroids. In addition, if there is significant inflammation or redness from scratching, a corticosteroid injection will be given.


Hydrocortisone ointment and oral antihistamines such as Benadryl are helpful for itching and inflammation. The veterinarian may also suggest or prescribe special shampoo to help soothe the skin. An antibiotic may also be needed to prevent a secondary infection from scratching.

Recovery of Metal Allergy in Cats

Metal allergies are easy to prevent once you are able to determine that is what the problem is. Just use ceramic or plastic cat food bowls and make sure there are no traces of metal in anything that your cat may be exposed to. In fact, some elements have been found in cat foods including nickel, lead, copper, uranium, and even arsenic. Your best bet is to talk to your veterinarian about what pet food is safest for your pet.

Metal Allergy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Domestic cat
5 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Lesions, Rodent Ulcer

I’ve had ongoing lip ulcer and now some lesions with my cat for 3 years. We can’t find out what she is allergic too. I’m just now switching from stainless steel to ceramic but now thinking I should just do glass in case this all has to do with metal.

The ceramic bowl she was using is “stoneware” from target.
She has stopped responding to steroid injections and it’s becoming very stressful to give her meds every day.
She just switched from prescription Z/D to D/D. One vet told me to try Natural Balance limited ingredient duck.

I just started her on CBD oil a few days ago and changed to a wheat cat litter (from clay). At a loss what to do here.
Any advice welcome. Thank you.

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Short haired tabby cat
5 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen,red, white bumps bottom lip

How do I get the rash on my cats bottom lip to go away, is there a way for me to help it heal? He just broke out with it a few days ago. It's red and has some white bumps / puss looking spots. I am thinking it is from his metal food dish, as that is the only new thing I can think of him having introduced lately. He has started to eat canned food at the same time that dish was introduced, but he was eating canned food on a random basis before that just out of a ceramic dish instead. Any help would be great, if there is a way for me to send a picture I could do that as well. Thank you.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Cats sometimes get infections on their chins, as that area is very glandular. If that is what is happening with him, he may need antibiotics to help resolve his infection. It would be a good idea to have him seen by your veterinarian, as they can see him and prescribe any treatment that he may need. I hope that he does well!

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Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

1. We are taking her for neutralizing. is it safe to use Ketamine injection as anesthesia? And what is the care that i need to take post her surgery?

2. I have heard of copper advantages to be used. Can i give a copper cup for my cat to drink water as there are many benefits of drinking water from copper bottle. Hence got a cup for the cat. Please let me know if this is safe to use only for water for the cat?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
Ketamine is a dissociative anaesthetic which is used widely, commonly in combination with sedatives; your Veterinarian will use a suitable combination for an effective anaesthesia. As for copper water bowls, they are used to reduce or eliminate slime and bacteria growth inside food bowls, but I don’t have much evidence on the science and wouldn’t want to comment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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