Cat Allergy Test: Diagnosis, Symptoms, and Treatments

Wyndly Care Team
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How do they test for allergies in cats?

Allergy testing in cats involves blood tests or intradermal skin testing. Blood tests detect antibodies to specific allergens, while skin testing involves injecting small amounts of allergens under the skin. The presence of a reaction, such as redness or swelling, indicates an allergy.

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What Are the Symptoms of Allergies in Cats?

Cats can exhibit a wide range of allergy symptoms, which can often mimic other medical conditions. The most common symptoms include skin irritation, digestive issues, and respiratory distress. Recognizing these signs is crucial for effective diagnosis and treatment.

Skin Irritation

Skin irritation is often the most visible sign of allergies in cats. Symptoms may include excessive scratching, licking, or biting at the skin, leading to hair loss, redness, sores, or scaly patches. Cats may also develop rashes and hives, similar to allergic reactions in humans.

Digestive Issues

Digestive issues can also indicate an allergy, especially in the case of food allergies. Symptoms might be vomiting, diarrhea, or frequent bowel movements. However, these signs can also be indicative of other health issues, making a proper diagnosis crucial.

Respiratory Distress

Respiratory distress is less common but can occur, especially if the cat is allergic to something in their environment. Symptoms can include coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, the cat could develop asthma-like symptoms, further complicating their condition.

While these symptoms can provide a valuable clue, the only definitive way to diagnose an allergy in cats is through an allergy test. If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, consult with a veterinarian for further assessment and guidance.

What Are the Types of Cat Allergies?

There are three main types of allergies that cats can develop: food allergies, environmental allergies, and flea allergies. Each type has unique triggers and symptoms, but may require a similar approach to diagnosis and treatment.

Food Allergies

Food allergies in cats are typically triggered by proteins in their diet. Common culprits include beef, fish, chicken, and dairy products. Symptoms can manifest as skin irritation, digestive issues, or respiratory distress. If you suspect your cat has a food allergy, a veterinarian can confirm this through an elimination diet or an allergy test.

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies, also known as atopy, can be triggered by a variety of substances in a cat's surroundings. These can include pollen, mold, dust mites, and certain cleaning products. Similar to food allergies, symptoms can include skin irritation, digestive issues, and less commonly, respiratory issues. An allergy test can help identify specific environmental allergens.

Flea Allergies

Flea allergies are caused by a reaction to flea saliva. This is one of the most common types of allergies in cats. The primary symptom is severe itching, especially at the base of the tail. Flea allergies can be managed by maintaining rigorous flea control measures and may require treatment to alleviate the symptoms.

How Do Cat Allergies Differ from Cat Dermatitis?

Cat allergies and cat dermatitis differ primarily in their causes and treatments. Whereas cat allergies are an immune system response to allergens, dermatitis is inflammation of the cat's skin that can be caused by a range of factors, not just allergies.

Cat allergies are reactions to specific allergens, such as food, environmental elements, or fleas, as previously discussed. These allergies often cause symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and digestive issues. Treatment generally involves identifying the specific allergen and reducing the cat's exposure to it. In some cases, immunotherapy may be recommended to desensitize the cat's immune system to the allergen, as explained in this guide to dog and cat allergies.

On the other hand, cat dermatitis can be caused by allergies, but also by other factors such as infections, parasites, or underlying health conditions. Dermatitis symptoms are generally localized to the skin and include redness, itching, and sometimes lesions. Treatment for dermatitis depends on the underlying cause and may involve medication such as antibiotics or antifungal treatments, as well as topical creams or ointments to soothe the skin.

How to Diagnose Allergies in Cats?

Diagnosing allergies in cats involves a combination of clinical examinations, a thorough review of the cat's medical history, and specific allergy tests. By implementing these diagnostic methods, veterinarians can identify the cause of the cat's allergic reaction and determine the best course of treatment.

Allergy Tests for Cats

Allergy tests for cats can be categorized into two types: intradermal skin testing and blood testing. Intradermal skin testing involves injecting small amounts of potential allergens into the cat's skin and observing for any reactions. This method is considered the gold standard for diagnosing allergies in cats. Blood testing, on the other hand, measures the level of allergen-specific IgE antibodies in the cat's blood. However, it's important to note that while these tests can help identify potential allergens, they are not always 100% accurate. For a more comprehensive understanding of cat allergies, visit Wyndly's detailed guide.

Preparing for Your Appointment with a Veterinarian

Before your appointment with a veterinarian, it's beneficial to prepare some information ahead of time. Make a list of your cat's symptoms, any changes in their behavior or environment, and any treatments you've already tried. It's also helpful to note any patterns to the symptoms, such as if they worsen during certain times of the year. This information can help your veterinarian diagnose your cat's allergies more accurately and efficiently, leading to a more tailored treatment plan for your feline friend.

What Are the Treatment Options for Cat Allergies?

Treatment options for cat allergies range from medications that alleviate symptoms to immunotherapy that targets the underlying cause. These treatments aim to reduce the allergic response and improve the cat's quality of life.


Medications such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, and decongestants can help manage the symptoms of a cat allergy. Antihistamines block the action of histamines, the chemicals that trigger allergy symptoms. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation and can be used for more severe symptoms, while decongestants alleviate nasal congestion. However, these medications only provide temporary relief and don't target the root cause of the allergy.

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots, also known as allergen immunotherapy, can be an effective treatment for cat allergies. This approach involves injecting small, gradually increasing amounts of the allergen into the body, helping the immune system become less sensitive to it. Over time, this can reduce the severity of the allergic reaction and provide long-term relief. It's a method that can help fix your cat allergy without having to part with your feline friend.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drops, is another form of immunotherapy. Instead of injections, allergen extracts are placed under the tongue. This treatment can be done at home and can be a good alternative for those who are needle-averse. Just like allergy shots, sublingual immunotherapy aims to modify the immune response to allergens, providing a long-term solution for cat allergies.

What to Do if You Think Your Cat Has Allergies?

If you suspect your cat has allergies, the first step is to consult a veterinarian for a definitive diagnosis. The vet can help identify the cause of your cat's symptoms and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.

Observation is key. Make note of when your cat's symptoms occur, any changes in their environment, diet, or behavior, and share this information with the vet. This could help identify potential allergens.

Lastly, depending on the allergen, it may be necessary to make changes to your cat's environment or diet. For instance, if your cat is allergic to a specific type of food, that food should be eliminated from their diet. If you are the one suffering from allergies, consider looking into hypoallergenic cat breeds as a potential solution.

Remember, the goal is to reduce exposure to the allergen and alleviate your cat's symptoms while ensuring their overall well-being.

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If you want long-term relief from your allergies, Wyndly can help. Our doctors will help you identify your allergy triggers and create a personalized treatment plan to get you the lifelong relief you deserve. Start by taking our quick online allergy assessment today!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to do an allergy test on a cat?

The cost of an allergy test for a cat varies based on location and specific tests required. However, typically, a basic skin or blood allergy test ranges from $200 to $300. More extensive testing, like intradermal tests, can cost upwards of $500.

How do I find out if my cat has allergies?

To determine if your cat has allergies, observe for symptoms like excessive scratching, skin inflammation, sneezing, coughing, vomiting, or diarrhea. If these signs are present, consult your vet. They may perform allergy tests, like blood or skin tests, to identify the specific allergen.

What is the most accurate cat allergy test?

The most accurate cat allergy test is typically a skin prick test conducted by an allergist. During this test, small amounts of cat allergens are introduced to the skin using tiny pricks. If an allergic reaction like a raised bump or hive occurs, a cat allergy is confirmed.

Are cat allergy tests worth it?

Cat allergy tests are definitely worth it if you suspect you're allergic. They can accurately identify if you're allergic to cat dander, helping you manage your symptoms better. Early detection can prevent severe allergic reactions and improve your quality of life.

Can you be allergic to cats but test negative?

Yes, you can be allergic to cats but test negative on an allergy test. This is due to the fact that the test might not pick up on the specific protein in cat dander that triggers your allergic reaction. It's best to trust your body's responses.

How do I test if I am allergic to cats?

To test for a cat allergy, consult with an allergist who will likely conduct a skin prick test or blood test. The skin prick test involves introducing a tiny amount of cat allergen into your skin and observing for any allergic reaction.

How do doctors test for cat allergies?

Doctors test for cat allergies primarily through skin prick tests or blood tests. In a skin prick test, tiny amounts of allergens, including cat dander, are pricked into your skin. If you're allergic, you'll develop a raised bump. Blood tests measure your immune system's response to cat allergens.

What medication is used for cat allergies?

For cat allergies, various medications are used to manage symptoms. These include antihistamines like cetirizine, fexofenadine, or loratadine; nasal corticosteroids like fluticasone; and decongestants. Also, leukotriene modifiers and allergy shots can be effective treatments for more severe allergy cases. Always consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

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