What is Rabbit Allergy?

Food allergies occur when your cat becomes allergic to a certain food. Most cases of food allergies in cats are from a protein source that they have been continuously exposed. While rabbit is still considered to be a novel protein, it is gaining in popularity as a main ingredient in specialty cat foods. Therefore, cats are being exposed more to rabbit as a protein source. 

Depending on the type of allergy, your cat may exhibit symptoms that can be alarming and will require veterinary attention. Your cat may have gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea or they may develop intense itching, rash or sneezing.

Rabbit allergies in cats can be inhalant, contact or food allergies. Inhalant and contact allergies occur as a result of being in the presence of a living rabbit. These types of allergies can become problematic if you are a multiple pet household that includes a cat and a rabbit. Your cat can exhibit symptoms of an allergic reaction when near your rabbit. Generally, it will not be the dander of the rabbit that your cat is allergic to but the saliva.

Symptoms of Rabbit Allergy in Cats

Your cat may exhibit symptoms ranging from mild to severe depending on the exposure to the allergen that is causing the allergic reaction. If you suspect your cat is allergic to rabbit, contact your veterinarian for an appointment. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Flatulence 
  • Sneezing
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Runny eyes
  • Coughing 

Causes of Rabbit Allergy in Cats

Allergies occur when your cat’s immune system identifies an allergen as a foreign entity and begins attacking it. In severe reactions, your cat’s immune system will begin attacking itself as well, causing more intense symptoms. 

If you have a pet rabbit in your home and your cat is experiencing an allergy to your rabbit, they could be having a reaction to the dander. They could also be reacting to your rabbit’s saliva, which can also cause allergic reactions. Your rabbit cleans itself like a cat does and if your cat rubs against your rabbit, the saliva can transfer and cause a reaction. 

Check the ingredients in your cat’s food and look closely at the protein source. Many times a cat will become allergic to a protein source, even if they have been eating that protein source for months or even years.

Diagnosis of Rabbit Allergy in Cats

When you arrive at your veterinarian’s office for your appointment, have a list of the ingredients in your cat’s food and any other treats that they get regularly. Also, let your veterinarian know if you have other pets that your cat is in contact with. Your veterinarian will need to know your cat’s medical history if they do not already have that on file. 

Your veterinarian will conduct a physical examination, paying close attention to any rashes or bald spots. If there is a rash present, a skin scraping may be taken to rule out mites or other external parasites. A fecal exam will eliminate the possibility of internal parasites. 

A complete blood count, or CBC, will be performed as well as a urinalysis and biochemistry panel. Some veterinarians will run specific blood and/or saliva tests looking for certain allergies. If your veterinarian suspects a food allergy then an elimination diet may be ordered. Elimination diets can take between 12-15 weeks before the allergen is identified.

Treatment of Rabbit Allergy in Cats

After your veterinarian has determined your cat has rabbit allergies, they will suggest treatment options. If your cat is suffering from contact or inhalant allergies, it may be necessary to keep your cat and your rabbit separate to avoid contact and triggering an allergic reaction. If your cat has food allergies, then your veterinarian can suggest a cat food that does not contain rabbit as a protein source.

To stop the allergic reaction, your veterinarian will put your cat on steroids. Steroids are generally called corticosteroids or glucocorticoids. The most common steroids prescribed for cats having allergic reactions are prednisolone and prednisone. Prednisolone is the easiest for your cat to metabolize and therefore it works quicker and is more effective.  

Antihistamines are also helpful when your cat is experiencing severe itching. Medicated baths can also relieve itching. Anti-itch creams can be used to relieve red, inflamed skin and stop mild itching. Speak with your veterinarian about which medications will work best for your cat.

Recovery of Rabbit Allergy in Cats

Avoiding the allergen will keep your cat from having an allergic reaction. If you have a pet rabbit that your cat is allergic to, keep them separate. Only allow your cat in certain rooms or keep your bunny contained to one room where your cat is not allowed. 

If your cat has a food allergy to rabbit as a protein source, look for a food that does not contain rabbit. You can ask your veterinarian for recommendations on a quality food that will not trigger your cat’s food allergies.