Can Allergies Make Your Cat Drool? The Surprising Truth

Introduction

Allergies in cats are quite common, with 10-15% of cats estimated to suffer from some type of allergy. While sneezing and itchy skin are typical allergy symptoms in cats, some owners notice their cats drooling excessively when allergies flare up. This drooling can be puzzling and concerning for cat parents.

In this article, we’ll take a comprehensive look at the connection between allergies and drooling in cats. We’ll explore the underlying causes, diagnosis, and treatments for cat allergies that lead to increased drool and saliva production. By understanding the link between allergies and drooling, cat owners can better manage their pet’s symptoms and improve their comfort and quality of life.

What Are Cat Allergies?

Cat allergies are hypersensitive immune responses to allergens from cats. Allergens are substances that trigger an abnormal reaction in the immune system. The most common cat allergens are certain proteins found in cat saliva, skin secretions, and urine. When cats groom themselves, the saliva dries and flakes off the fur as small allergen-containing particles called dander. These allergens can become airborne or stick to surfaces in the environment (VCA Hospitals).

The three most common types of cat allergies are:

  • Flea allergy dermatitis – an itchy skin reaction to flea bites and flea saliva.
  • Atopy – allergies to inhaled particles like pollen, dust mites, or mold.
  • Food allergies – reactions to proteins or other ingredients in cat food like beef, fish, chicken, corn, wheat, or soy (PetMD).

Allergies are commonly seen in cats but can develop at any age. Some cats have multiple allergies while others only react to one allergen. Symptoms range from mild to severe depending on the individual and allergen exposure.

Symptoms of Cat Allergies

Some common symptoms of cat allergies include:

  • Itchy skin – Allergic reactions cause histamines to be released in the body, leading to itchy skin, especially around the face, neck, arms and legs.
  • Hair loss – The excessive scratching from itchy skin can cause hair loss and bald patches.
  • Excessive grooming – To relieve itchy skin, cats may lick or chew themselves excessively.
  • Sneezing – Inhaling allergens like cat dander can irritate the nasal passages and cause sneezing fits.
  • Runny nose and watery eyes – Histamines released during an allergic reaction cause inflammation in the nasal passages and eyes, leading to a runny nose and watery eyes.
  • Skin rashes – Some cats may develop a red, bumpy rash on the skin as an allergic reaction.

Of these, itchy skin, hair loss from scratching, and excessive grooming behaviors are some of the most common symptoms seen in cats with allergies. The itchiness leads cats to overgroom, which can cause hair loss and skin damage. Keep an eye out for these signs if you suspect your cat may have allergies.

Can Allergies Cause Drooling?

Yes, allergies can sometimes cause drooling in cats. When a cat has an allergic reaction, the irritation and inflammation in their mouth and throat can lead to excessive saliva production and drooling.

According to Cat Drooling: What it is and Why They Do it, food allergies are one potential cause of drooling in cats. Cats may drool excessively if they eat something they are allergic or sensitive to. The allergic reaction causes inflammation in the mouth, leading to increased saliva production.

Environmental allergens like pollen, dust, and mold can also cause allergic reactions in cats. As explained in What cat drooling really means and when you should worry, inhaled allergens can irritate a cat’s throat and lead to drooling. The irritation stimulates the salivary glands.

So in summary, allergic reactions in the mouth, throat, and airways can overstimulate saliva production, resulting in drooling. If a cat starts drooling suddenly, allergies are one potential cause to consider and investigate further.

Other Causes of Drooling

Although allergies can cause drooling in some cats, there are other potential causes as well. Some common reasons cats may drool besides allergies include:

Dental Disease

Dental issues like gingivitis, abscesses, and tooth resorption can lead to excessive drooling. The pain and inflammation in the mouth often causes cats to salivate and drool more. Getting regular dental checkups and treating any dental disease can help reduce drooling from this cause.

Nausea

Nausea from motion sickness, eating something toxic, intestinal parasites, or other illnesses can trigger drooling. The nausea stimulates the salivary glands and makes cats drool. Once the source of the nausea is treated, the drooling usually resolves.

Stress

Stress, fear, and anxiety can also cause cats to drool more. The excess saliva production is thought to be an instinctual response when cats feel threatened. Creating a calmer environment and reducing stressors can help minimize drooling from stress.

While allergies are one potential cause of cat drooling, other medical conditions like dental disease, nausea, and stress are also common culprits. A vet exam is needed to diagnose the underlying reason for drooling in individual cats.

Diagnosing Allergies

Diagnosing allergies in cats begins with a thorough physical exam and review of medical history by your veterinarian. They will look for clinical signs associated with allergies, such as itchy skin, ear infections, and hair loss. Your vet may recommend diagnostic allergy testing to pinpoint the specific allergen(s) causing your cat’s symptoms.

There are three main types of allergy tests for cats:

  • Intradermal skin testing – Small amounts of potential allergens are injected under the skin to measure reaction.
  • Blood serum testing – Blood sample is tested for IgE antibodies against specific allergens.
  • Elimination diet trials – Removing ingredients from diet to isolate problem foods.

Two common blood tests used for cats are RAST testing (radioallergosorbent test) https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/rast-testing-in-cats and the allergy screen panel test https://www.ondemand.labcorp.com/lab-tests/dog-and-cat-allergy-test. These tests can help identify environmental and food allergies.

Allergy testing can provide important information to develop an allergen avoidance or immunotherapy treatment plan. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the right testing approach for your cat.

Treating Cat Allergies

There are several treatment options for cat allergies, including antihistamines, diet changes, and immunotherapy:

Antihistamines can help relieve allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny nose. Some common over-the-counter options are cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), and loratadine (Claritin). Prescription antihistamines like levocetirizine (Xyzal) and desloratadine (Clarinex) are also available. Antihistamines work by blocking histamine, the chemical released by the immune system during an allergic reaction. They can provide relief but don’t treat the underlying cause of the allergy (source).

Dietary changes may help reduce allergens for cats with food allergies or intolerances. Your vet can recommend specialty hypoallergenic diets made with hydrolyzed proteins and novel protein sources. It’s important to trial a strict elimination diet under veterinary supervision to identify problem ingredients (source).

Allergy shots or immunotherapy involves administering small amounts of allergens to desensitize the immune system over time. This gradual exposure changes the immune response and can significantly reduce symptoms. Immunotherapy is often effective for environmental allergies when avoidance isn’t possible (source).

Preventing Allergies

There are several steps you can take to reduce allergens in your home and prevent allergic reactions to your cat:

Vacuum frequently using a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove dander from carpets, upholstery, drapes and other surfaces. Vacuum twice a week to stay on top of allergens [1].

Wash bedding weekly in hot water to kill dust mites and remove allergens. Consider using allergen-proof mattress and pillow covers [2].

Keep your cat out of bedrooms and limit access to other rooms. Confine your cat to non-carpeted areas of your home as much as possible.

Bathe your cat weekly or every other week to reduce saliva and dander that causes allergic reactions. Use a cat-safe shampoo and brush thoroughly while bathing.

Consider an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove allergens circulating in the air. Change filters frequently.

Clean surfaces regularly with a damp cloth to remove accumulated dander and other allergens.

When to See a Vet

If your cat is experiencing severe or persistent allergy symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet. Here are some signs that require veterinary care:

Extreme itchiness and overgrooming leading to bald spots, lesions, or open wounds (source). Prolonged itching and scratching can damage the skin.

Sneezing and nasal discharge that lasts more than a week (source). This can indicate an upper respiratory infection.

Wheezing, coughing, or labored breathing, which may signal asthma triggered by allergies (source). Allergy-related asthma requires medication.

Recurring ear infections, which are common with allergies (source). Chronic ear infections need medical treatment.

Significant hair loss over large areas of the body (source). This indicates advanced skin irritation.

Lethargy, reduced appetite, or other signs of illness require prompt veterinary attention to determine the underlying cause.

Don’t delay in seeking veterinary care if your cat is suffering from severe allergy symptoms. Your vet can provide medications and other therapies to relieve your cat’s discomfort and prevent secondary infections.

Conclusion

In summary, while excessive drooling can potentially be a symptom of allergies in cats, it is more likely to be caused by other conditions. Allergies that manifest with skin irritation or respiratory signs are more common. That said, any chronic issue like drooling warrants a veterinary visit to pinpoint the underlying cause. With prompt diagnosis and treatment, allergic cats can live happy and comfortable lives. While allergies can’t be cured, there are many effective management options available.

The takeaway is that owners should watch for any signs of allergies in their cats and seek veterinary advice if they have concerns. Catching allergies early not only reduces suffering, but gives more options for treatment. With care and patience, allergic cats can thrive. While drooling alone may not indicate allergies, it is always best to rule them out if other symptoms are present. Veterinary guidance is key to sorting through potential causes and crafting an appropriate treatment plan.

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