As a child, I was very allergic to cats. This issue disappeared as I got older, but the experience left me wondering if cats can suffer from allergies, too.
Turns out, yes, they can. According to petMD, cited below, cats can be allergic to fleas, foods, things in their immediate environment (like house dust, pollen, and mold), and other things they come into contact with, such as medications. Interestingly, these can also be common causes of allergies in humans.
It's the flea's saliva that causes cat allergy symptoms. According to petMD, "historically, cats with flea allergies either have poor or no flea control." This issue most commonly affects the skin on a kitty's head, neck, inner thighs, and tummy. You will often see the fleas, and your companion's constant itching, chewing, and rubbing will be a clear sign of flea allergies.
Food allergies in cats can cause vomiting, increased salivation, or itching around the face, head, and neck. While fleas are normally an issue in spring and summer, cat food allergies can occur all year long.
Proteins like beef, chicken, and fish seem to be the main cause of food allergies in cats. As reported on petMD, "Any protein, carbohydrate, preservative, additive, or dye can be potentially allergenic." Some cats also have allergy issues with grains, corn, or gluten. Studies indicate that certain cat breeds, such as Siamese, and cats under the age of six months, may be more likely to develop health issues with foods.
An article from VCA Animal Hospitals, cited below, states that "Food allergies can be problematic for many cats, especially after years on the same diet." Therefore, your vet may recommend a special food for your cat that won't cause an allergic reaction from his immune system.
Itchiness is a main symptom you'll note in a cat who is allergic to something in his immediate surroundings. These allergy issues can also cause ear infections, hair loss, skin conditions, and asthma-like respiratory problems. Abyssinian, Devon Rex, and domestic short-haired cats less than 3 years old seem to be the most likely to develop environmental allergies. Causes include pollen, mold, yeast, dust mites, and animal dander.
And don’t forget human dander, the small flaky pieces of skin and hair we lose all the time. So yes, cats could be allergic to you, too!
This category includes anything a cat comes into contact with (not listed here as environmental) that creates physical issues, such as medications (including topical flea control), shampoos, and other insecticides. Fibers and dyes in furniture and many polishes and cleaners used to clean furniture can also bring on a cat’s allergies. Note to pool owners: cats can also be allergic to chlorinated water.
Quote to remember: "If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats.” ― Lemony Snicket, The Wide Window
VCA Animal Hospitals
"Allergies in Cats"
"Allergies in Cats"