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Scratching the Surface of Allergies in Cats

Aug 29, 2012 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Humans aren’t alone in suffering from allergies.  Cats get allergies too, and their allergies can cause a variety of symptoms.  In humans, allergies typically cause signs such as coughing, sneezing, and itchy eyes.  Cats usually react to allergies by suffering from excessive itching, leading to scratching, licking, rubbing, or biting themselves, resulting in hair loss, and damaged irritated skin.

Even though skin problems are most commonly seen, the problem is more than skin deep.  Allergies can also cause inflammation and damage to the intestinal tract, causing vomiting and or diarrhea, and can damage the lungs, in some cats, leading to asthma.

Our immune system is constantly being bombarded by, and protects us from, challenges present in our environment. An allergic reaction occurs when a normally harmless substance, called an allergen, causes an abnormal and excessive immune response which leads to inflammation. Allergens can be anything from A to Z in the world including pollens from trees, grass or weeds, molds, dust and dust mites, saliva from flea and other insect bites, foods, wool, etc. Finding out what your cat may be allergic to can be problematic, and often impossible.

For those cats suffering from skin allergy, this inflammatory reaction can cause itching, which then causes scratching which causes more itching, and so on. This itch-scratch cycle can cause incredible discomfort, decreased quality of life for your cat, and keep you up at night with the sounds of scratching, and licking.

If you suspect that your cat has allergies, consult your veterinarian.  Some cats have seasonal allergies, while other exhibits symptoms of their allergy year round.  Other causes of skin problems need to be ruled out, and can be dependent on where you live. These can include ringworm, skin mites, internal diseases, and cancer.

Diagnosis and treatment can be difficult because of the complex interactions of the cat’s immune system with the environment.  Removal of different substances from their surroundings can be tried, or observing the response to prescribed medications can be undertaken.  Some of these medications are safer than others, and will vary from case to case. In some cases, allergy testing can be performed to try to determine what specific allergens are at fault.

Unfortunately, even though there are different treatment options available to make your cat more comfortable, please know that allergic diseases are managed and not cured. When left untreated, allergies can have negative effects on your cat’s comfort and quality of life, and can become more difficult to treat as time passes. The lesson here is simple – treat early and don’t let itching and scratching get under your and your cat’s skin.  >^..^<

Dr Robert Marrazzo

Fellow, American Association of Feline Practitioners Owner and Founder of The Cat Hospital at Palm Harbor Throughout his life Dr. Marrazzo has had, and continues to develop a growing passion and love for cats, as well as an appreciation of their unique nature. He has dedicated his professional career to their care, and to learning more about them. After graduating from Cornell University, he attended the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, where he was mentored by Dr. Michael Schaer. He received his degree as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1988, and was awarded the Phi Theta Kappa Award for academic excellence in veterinary medicine and surgery.

After graduation, he actively sought out positions and externships that allowed him to work with leaders in the field of veterinary medicine. He has practiced in both internal medicine, and neurology / neurosurgery practices, and also has an extensive background in emergency medicine and surgery, and critical care.

He is an active supporter in local, state and national feline organizations including the American Veterinary Medical Association, The American Animal Hospital Association, Cornell Feline Health Center, The Veterinary Laser Surgical Society, and the American Veterinary Dental Society. He is most proud of his long affiliation with the American Association of Feline Practitioners, and currently serves on the Executive Board of that organization. He is active locally having volunteered at the Humane Society, and is a Past-President of the Pinellas Animal Foundation. He has been a regular contributor to Ask-A-Vet newspaper column, Healthy Cat Journal, and the Eastlake Heron.

Dr. Marrazzo enjoys continuing education and regularly attends seminars and conferences across the country each year focusing on the latest advancements in feline medicine and surgery. He also enjoys being an educator, not only for his client’s, but he also is currently an Adjunct Professor of Veterinary Medical Technology at St. Petersburg College, where he has discovered a new passion – teaching veterinary emergency and critical care to veterinary technician students.

He is very proud and excited that his two children, Christopher and Kimberly, are pursuing careers in veterinary medicine! He is allowed to share his home with four cats, Al, Gus, Bean, and Lefty, who lost his left ear in a car engine as a stray.

Dr. Marrazzo loves the outdoors and nature. He is an avid bicycle rider, enjoys kayaking, boating, reading mystery novels, and has special interests in history and archeology.

The Cat Hospital at Palm Harbor
2501 Alternate 19 North
Palm Harbor, FL 34683

Phone: (727) 785-2287
Fax: (727)785-2887
Email: staff@wespeakmeow.com

Website: http://www.bobcatdvm.com/
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