Cat Flea Allergy Dermatitis
From Pet Health Learning Center
Cat Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Regardless of its insignificant size, a flea can have more than fifteen antigens hiding within its saliva. All of which, have the capability of triggering an allergic reaction in cats - specifically those who are sensitive to allergens in the first place. It is unfortunate that bites from Cat Fleas are difficult to prevent, even with the progress made to deter them.
From the first time a cat picks up an allergy, it is very rare for them to naturally desensitize from flea bites. For those cats that don't have an allergic reaction to flea bites, they may still become irritated when a flea does bite and may scratch or gnaw at the area. It is very unlikely though that a lesion will appear, as it does with sensitive cats. Tests have shown no specific link to particular breeds of cats and cat flea allergy dermatitis.
Signs and Symptoms
A flea allergy is known as being a seasonal one as it becomes more of an issue in the summer months and the fall, when fleas are significantly more in number. One of the most obvious signs that a cat will give to make you believe they have a flea allergy, is when they manically scratch around the areas where fleas are more common to reside - the base of the tail, around the ears and so forth. You will probably notice this obsessive scratching before you notice the actual fleas themselves, as they are not necessarily large in number. You might also notice that the cat has incurred some hair loss or thinning around the base of the tail. On closer inspection, you will see evidence of the flea infestation - either the fleas themselves or their waste. In more advanced cases, not only will the cat scratch in a frenzy and lose its hairs - but you might also witness areas of inflammation on their body. Skin lesions and Alopecia are also symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis in cats.
Usually, a normal observation of the cat's skin and hair will clarify that a flea allergy is the cause. However, it is also not uncommon for a veterinarian to carry out intradermal skin testing. This helps to discover how severe the flea allergy is, as sensitive cats have a good chance of other allergies too.
The treatment used will be to prevent any future contact with fleas (which can be at times rather difficult). There are two main types of treatment options:
Treatment For The Cat
There are a series of both topical and oral medications to treat flea infestation in cats. The ones with the best results are adulticides to kill the adult fleas and an IGR which helps to prevent flea growth. Your veterinarian will be able to advise which of the products would have the best effects with your cat. They will look into several factors such as the severity of the infestation and allergy, whether or not your cat is an indoors or outdoors pet, amongst others. However, be aware that most commercial flea control products actually contain harmful chemicals that can lead to liver disease in both you and your cat. Whenever possible, opt instead of an all-natural flea control product.
Treatment For The Environment
As well as treating the cat, it is also of high importance to treat the areas that they frequent. You can also use the same combination of an IGR and adulticide to apply to home furnishings and cat bedding. It will also be beneficial to vacuum on a regular basis and clean the vacuum thoroughly after each vacuuming session. If you have other pets that are living within the same household then you should treat them and their bedding too.