Can cats get allergies in their eyes? This is a common question posed to veterinarians.
Cats can definitely get allergies, and one of the symptoms is watery itchy eyes. So, when we say allergies in the eyes, this is a manifestation of a symptom caused by irritants more so than an actual health condition.
To further explain, let’s delve a little deeper into allergies.
What are the symptoms of allergies in cats?
One of the most common symptoms of allergies in cats is itchy skin. You may see your cat scratching often and looking very uncomfortable in general. Other symptoms of allergies are:
Itchy and runny eyes
Sneezing and coughing
Wheezing and snoring
Rubbing the face on objects
If the allergic reaction is rapid and severe, you may see your cat experience difficulty breathing due to swelling of the airways. Anaphylactic shock requires immediate treatment as it is life-threatening.
What causes allergies in the eyes?
Allergies can be caused by a number of things. It’s best to take your cat to the vet for advice on how to rule out possible causes of the symptoms.
Allergies in cats are typically classified into four types.
Food allergies: If your feline friend has allergies to the food you are feeding them, your vet will assist with advice on the elimination diet. This involves a special diet for a period of 8 to 12 weeks, whereby your cat is given a hypoallergenic food (which does not contain any of the ingredients previously fed to your cat).
This means a halt on treats, as you do not want to interfere with the test results. All family members have to comply. If improvement is seen in your cat’s condition, they may need a hypoallergenic diet from then on.
Flea allergies: An allergy to fleas is a common problem. The condition is called flea allergy dermatitis, and can only be cured by complete elimination of the flea problem on your cat and in your house. When your cat is bitten and the flea saliva affects the immune system, the immune response triggers itching all over (not just at the bite location).
Preventing your four-legged buddy from getting fleas is essential. An allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva is not the only issue. Fleas carry diseases like Bartonella and parasites like tapeworm.
Contact allergies: Your cat may experience allergy symptoms when in consistent contact with items like flea collars, chemicals in the kitty litter, plants, cleaning products, and even bedding. If your cat comes into contact with fragrances or cleaning products they may have itchy watery eyes as one of the symptoms.
For an allergy to an item like kitty litter, which develops over time, stopping the use of the products may solve the issue. Your vet can assist with an eyewash to reduce the irritation and provide fast relief when irritation occurs after instant contact such as with fragrance. Be sure to keep your feline pal out of reach of perfumes and in another room when you are using cleaning products.
Inhalant allergies: Culprits like dust, mold, and pollen cause symptoms in cats, with the most obvious being itchy skin. As with humans, these allergies can be seasonal. The problem may let up with the change of seasons. But in some cases, if household dust is the problem, for example, the allergy can persist.
Your cat may need corticosteroid treatment to relieve the symptoms of atopy, the medical term for skin irritation caused by allergies. Antihistamines and immunosuppressive medication (to calm down the immune system which is fighting the allergen) may help. Some cats will need allergy shots to combat the problem.
Other causes of watery eyes
Keep in mind that allergies in the eyes may not be the only reason for the redness and irritation. There could be other culprits:
Corneal ulcers (for example, if your cat scratched their eye)
Glaucoma, a serious illness that causes pressure build-up in the eye
Bacterial or viral eye infection brought on by an upper respiratory infection that spreads to the eyes (including conjunctivitis)
If your furry companion has allergies in their eyes, or any type of irritation causing them discomfort, take them to the veterinarian's office for a check-up and examination to rule out the cause.