What are Pollen Allergies?
While initially, pollen allergies may pose only a minor inconvenience to your cat, if left untreated they may result in respiratory infections, colds, and other secondary conditions when the reaction becomes chronic, or long-term and repetitive, in nature. If your cat appears to be suffering from the symptoms of allergies you should carefully monitor the condition and schedule a visit to your veterinarian if the condition recurs or becomes overly disruptive to your pet’s daily routine.
Similar to humans, cats can develop allergies from inhaled substances, such as pollen. While food allergies are more common in cats, seasonal or year-round allergies due to pollen may also occur in your pet. This condition is most prevalent during the late spring, summer and early fall growing seasons, but may occur year-round in warmer climates.
Symptoms of Pollen Allergies in Cats
While in most cats, pollen allergies will appear throughout their entire lives, some animals may not develop the condition until they are older. Each case of pollen allergies will be unique and symptoms will vary in severity. Common signs that may indicate your cat is suffering from pollen allergies may include:
- Scratching at eyes
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Coughing or sneezing
- Orange discoloration around eyes
- Chewing on paws
- Ulcers or sores on skin from excessive scratching
Causes of Pollen Allergies in Cats
An allergy response occurs when your cat’s body ingests, inhales or otherwise comes in contact with a substance that triggers an inappropriate immune response. Most cats can be exposed to normal environmental factors such as pollen or other inhalants without suffering any negative consequences. The immune response manifests as inflammation and excessive production of water and fluid as the body attempts to protect its various systems by encapsulating or flushing out the irritants. In some cats, pollen allergies may be hereditary, while in others the cause is of unknown origin.
Diagnosis of Pollen Allergies in Cats
Your veterinarian will need to conduct a thorough physical exam of your cat in order to accurately diagnose pollen allergies. Since most allergies present with similar symptoms, your vet will need to rule out other potential aggravating environmental, food or toxins they may have come in contact with. It will be important for you to provide your vet with a thorough physical and medical history of your cat. If your cat has recently had any changes in food, bedding or has been exposed to unusual chemicals, this information could help differentiate between allergies to pollen and something else. You should also document the progression of the symptoms, including whether your cat has always suffered from the condition and whether the symptoms improve or worsen at certain times of the year or after certain activities, such as being outside.
Next your vet will want to rule out common conditions that may have similar symptoms. These may include infections or minor colds. Your vet will collect a blood sample which will be sent to a lab to rule out the possibility of any serious systematic sickness. A blood sample can also identify the presence of certain antibodies that are indicative of pollen allergies. Skin allergy tests, similar to those in humans, are also available for cats. In these tests, your cat is injected with a tiny amount of many common types of allergens directly into the skin and then reexamined after several days to determine if any of the substances caused an allergic reaction.
Your vet may also take a small smear from the tissue inside your cat’s nose and mouth. This will allow them to analyze the cells for any inflammatory responses that would indicate allergies. In order to rule out allergies to other substances, your vet may order short term food trials. This will involve modifying your pet’s diet to special prescription foods that contain minimal ingredients in order to test whether food is the potential culprit.
Treatment of Pollen Allergies in Cats
Pollen allergies are usually treated either conservatively or with a variety of prescription medicines, depending on the severity of symptoms. If your cat suffers from mild discomfort seasonally, your vet may advise to keep your pet indoors in order to limit exposure to pollen. If your cat’s symptoms are severe, your vet may prescribe medicines known as antihistamines. These drugs act by inhibiting the immune response to allergens. Long-term use of antihistamines may result in your cat’s system adapting and the drug no longer being effective. They can also potentially impact your cat’s liver and kidney health.
Recovery of Pollen Allergies in Cats
While there is currently no known cure for pollen allergies in cats, long-term prognosis for your pet living a long and healthy life is very good. If your cat’s condition is treated with medication, you will need to ensure they see a veterinarian regularly for follow-up tests and to have medications switched out if need be.