Do Cats Get Allergies Too? The Truth About Kitty Sneezing Fits


Seasonal allergies in cats occur when cats have an overreaction to allergens that are present during certain times of the year, usually spring and summer. Cats with seasonal allergies come into contact with pollens, molds, and other environmental allergens that cause them to develop symptoms.

The most common symptoms of seasonal allergies in cats include itchy skin, excessive grooming, hair loss, recurring ear infections, and watery eyes. Sneezing can also occur with seasonal allergies, but is more commonly seen in upper respiratory infections. Unlike humans who experience more respiratory symptoms, cats tend to exhibit seasonal allergy symptoms mostly affecting their skin, fur, and ears.

Seasonal allergy symptoms develop when a cat’s immune system overreacts to the allergens, releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause inflammation. This inflammation leads to the irritating symptoms. Cats can develop new seasonal allergies to things they were not previously allergic to as they age.

Common Seasonal Allergens for Cats

Some of the most common seasonal allergens that can cause issues for cats include:

Pollen – Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds is a major seasonal allergen for cats. Pollen levels tend to peak in spring and summer when plants are flowering. When cats inhale airborne pollens, it can trigger an allergic response and symptoms like sneezing and sniffling.

Dust mites – These microscopic organisms feed on flakes of dead skin and thrive in fabric surfaces around the home. Dust mite populations tend to peak in warmer months. Exposure to dust mite particles in the air or by contact with contaminated fabrics can cause allergic reactions in cats.[1]

Mold spores – Mold and mildew can grow in any damp areas in a home or outside. Spores released into the air can be inhaled by cats, leading to seasonal allergic reactions. Mold growth is most common in warmer, more humid months.

Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies in Cats

Cats with seasonal allergies can exhibit a variety of symptoms. Some of the most common include:

Sneezing – Frequent and recurrent sneezing is a hallmark symptom of allergies in cats. It occurs when allergens irritate the nasal passages, stimulating a cat’s sneeze reflex. Sneezing may occur year-round or be linked to seasonal allergen exposure like pollen.

Runny nose – Allergens can cause nasal inflammation and excess mucus production. A runny nose with clear, watery discharge is very common with cat seasonal allergies. The nasal discharge may be chronic or come and go.

Itchy skin – Allergic irritation can make cats extremely itchy. They may scratch, rub, lick or chew at their skin constantly. This can lead to hair loss, sores, scabs and skin infections. Itchy skin may affect the face, feet, belly, armpits or base of the tail.

Watery eyes – Some cats with seasonal allergies get inflamed, irritated eyes. This causes tearing, squinting, ocular discharge and redness. The whites of the eyes may take on a pinkish hue. Discomfort from eye allergies can lead to excessive pawing at the face.

Diagnosing Seasonal Allergies in Cats

If a cat is showing symptoms of a seasonal allergy, the next step is to take them to the veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. The vet will perform a full physical exam and gather information about the cat’s medical history and any changes in behavior or health that coincide with seasonal changes.

There are two main diagnostic tests vets use to confirm seasonal allergies in cats:

Intradermal skin testing involves injecting small amounts of common allergens like pollens or molds just under the skin and observing the reaction. A raised welt indicates an allergy to that specific allergen. This helps the vet pinpoint exactly what allergens are causing the cat’s symptoms. According to Animal Friends, intradermal skin testing provides the most accurate diagnosis.

Blood tests can also detect antibodies to certain allergens in the bloodstream. However, blood tests are less precise than skin testing. The results indicate sensitivities but not definitive allergies. Still, blood tests provide useful information to vets diagnosing seasonal allergies.

Once the allergens are identified through testing, the vet can provide recommendations for allergen avoidance and treatment options to relieve the cat’s symptoms.

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options for seasonal allergies in cats:

Allergen Avoidance

One of the most effective treatments is to avoid the allergens that trigger symptoms in your cat. Keep your cat indoors during peak pollen seasons and use high efficiency filters on heating/cooling systems. Wipe your cat down with a damp towel after being outside to remove pollens from their fur. Vacuum and dust frequently with a HEPA filter vacuum. Avoiding the allergens is the first line of treatment according to vets (


Antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can provide relief from allergy symptoms. Consult with your vet on proper dosing. Antihistamines work by blocking histamine receptors and reducing inflammation. They can help control minor allergy symptoms in cats. However, antihistamines may cause drowsiness as a side effect (


For more severe seasonal allergies, vets may prescribe immunosuppressant drugs like cyclosporine or Atopica. These work by suppressing the immune system’s overactive response to allergens. They are more effective at controlling symptoms than antihistamines alone.

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots or immunotherapy can help desensitize your cat to specific allergens over time. Your vet will formulate a serum with small amounts of the allergens. These allergy shots will be given regularly over the course of several months to years. Allergy shots can significantly reduce allergy symptoms and need for other medications in the long run.

Allergen Avoidance

One of the most effective ways to prevent and treat seasonal allergies in cats is through allergen avoidance. This involves reducing your cat’s exposure to common environmental allergens that typically cause reactions during certain seasons.

Keep windows closed during high pollen seasons in the spring, summer, and fall. Closing windows prevents pollen from grasses, trees, weeds, and plants from entering your home. Consider running an air conditioner with a HEPA filter during allergy season to filter allergens.

HEPA air filters and purifiers can be used inside your home to trap allergens and keep indoor air clean. Place air filters in rooms where your cat spends the most time. PetMD notes that air filters should be run continuously to remove allergens effectively.

Wash your cat’s bedding frequently using hot water to kill and remove allergens that accumulate. Use unscented and gentle detergents to avoid irritating your cat’s skin. Vacuum and dust regularly to pick up dander and other allergens. Hard floors can be easier to keep allergen-free than carpets.

Following an allergen avoidance regimen can significantly reduce allergy symptoms in cats. Preventing exposure to seasonal allergens is often the first line of defense recommended by vets.


Antihistamines are commonly used to treat seasonal allergies in cats. Some commonly prescribed antihistamines include:

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) – This blocks the histamine response and can provide relief from symptoms like itchy skin, sneezing, and watery eyes. Potential side effects include sedation and lack of coordination.
  • Chlorpheniramine – Also blocks histamine receptors. May cause lethargy as a side effect.
  • Hydroxyzine – An antihistamine that is also used as an antianxiety medication. Can cause sedation.

Cats may experience side effects like sedation, lack of coordination, dry mouth, and lack of appetite from antihistamines. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian before giving your cat any medication, including over-the-counter antihistamines, and follow dosing instructions carefully.


If antihistamines alone don’t relieve your cat’s seasonal allergy symptoms, your vet may recommend adding an immunosuppressant medication. Immunosuppressants work by suppressing the immune system’s allergic response.

The most commonly prescribed immunosuppressant for cat allergies is prednisolone, a corticosteroid. Prednisolone helps reduce inflammation caused by the release of chemicals during an allergic reaction. It can be used on a short-term or long-term basis, depending on your cat’s needs.

While quite effective at controlling allergy symptoms, prednisolone does come with potential side effects. When used long-term, prednisolone can cause increased thirst and urination, panting, increased appetite and weight gain, muscle wasting, and thinning of the skin. It may also predispose cats to developing diabetes mellitus or urinary tract infections.

Your vet will prescribe the lowest effective dose of prednisolone to help minimize side effects. They may recommend supplementing with potassium to reduce muscle wasting. Periodic blood work helps monitor for any developing issues like diabetes. Many cats tolerate prednisolone well for years, but your vet will be watchful for any problems.

Other immunosuppressants like cyclosporine may also be options for cats with seasonal allergies. Your vet can advise you on the most appropriate medications for your individual cat. With an effective treatment plan, most cats can find relief from their allergy symptoms and enjoy the seasons comfortably.

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots, also known as allergen immunotherapy or allergy vaccines, can help desensitize cats to specific allergens over time. The treatment involves administering increasing amounts of an allergen extract to cats over several months to years. The goal is to induce tolerance by gradually exposing the immune system to larger doses of the allergen.

According to a recent NIH study, experimental cat allergy shots provided longer-lasting relief compared to standard allergy shots. After receiving the experimental shots for 1 year, cats had reduced allergy symptoms for at least 2 years. This was a significant improvement over standard shots that require ongoing injections to maintain efficacy.

Allergy shots can be very effective at reducing symptoms in around 60-80% of cats with allergies. However, the course of treatment is lengthy, ranging from 6 months to a few years. Allergy shots also carry a slight risk of anaphylaxis, so cats must be monitored closely after each injection.


With proper diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis for cats with seasonal allergies is generally good. The earlier the condition is identified and addressed, the better the outcome usually is. However, seasonal allergies tend to be chronic and recurrent in cats.

With medications like antihistamines, steroids, and allergy shots, most cats can experience significant relief from allergy symptoms and improved quality of life. Avoidance of triggers through environmental control can also help minimize flare ups. Treatment allows cats to live happy and fairly normal lives despite their allergies.

That said, seasonal allergies cannot be fully cured in cats, only controlled. Relapses may occur when treatment is stopped or if the cat encounters high levels of allergens. Working closely with a veterinarian to fine tune treatment and identify allergen sources is key to minimizing symptoms long-term. With diligent care, cats with seasonal allergies can still enjoy a good quality of life.

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