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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best cat allergy medications

Just like us, our feline friends can be allergic to a range of substances, in which case cat allergy medications can help relieve their symptoms. These are medications for cats with allergies, so you'll need to look elsewhere if you're searching for medications to treat humans who are allergic to cats.

However, you won't need to select an allergy medication because these medications need to be prescribed by a vet and the vet will recommend the best one for your cat, but it's still good to know more about cat allergies and the types of medications available to treat them. This also allows you to be armed with all the relevant information when you visit your cat's vet and have an idea of which line of treatment you might prefer to follow.

Read on for our full buying guide to cat allergy medications, which contains all the basic details you need to know to get your cat the treatment it needs. We’ve included some recommendations above too.

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If you can pin down the cause of your cat's allergy and remove it from your environment, your cat won't need to constantly take allergy medication, though this just isn't possible in some cases.

Key considerations

Causes of feline allergies

Cats can have a range of different allergies, so it's important that your cat be properly diagnosed by a vet and receive the relevant treatment.

Food: Although it isn’t very common, cats can suffer from food allergies. The most common culprits are meat proteins, such as beef, chicken, turkey, and fish. Food allergies can present as gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting, or as skin irritation and itchiness, so they're not always simple to diagnose. Vets tend to recommend an elimination diet when they suspect food allergies, starting with a single protein the pet hasn’t had before and adding more in gradually to see which ingredient or ingredients are causing issues. Once you know which foods your cat is allergic to, you can simply cut these foods out of your feline friend's diet with no need for medication.

Contact: These allergies are caused by substances your cat comes into physical contact with. They generally show up in the form of itchiness and skin irritation. Common causes of contact allergies include flea medications, certain types of cat litter, or even some materials, such as wool. In most cases, you can identify the cause of the contact allergy and get rid of it from your cat's environment. However, feline allergy meds are useful when you can't find the source of the allergy or it isn't something that's possible to remove.

Inhalant: These allergies are a reaction to something that your cat breathes in. They can be seasonal allergies to pollen from grass, trees, or flowers; or environmental allergies to any other substance that can be inhaled, including wood smoke from open fires, cigarette smoke, mold and mildew, cleaning products, or air fresheners. These allergies can show up as skin irritation, itching, sneezing, coughing, or wheezing. If you can identify the source of the allergy and remove it, then your cat should be fine, though it might need allergy medication in the short term until the symptoms clear up. If you can't find the source of the allergy or it isn't possible to get rid of it, your cat may benefit from long-term allergy medication.

Fleas: These allergies occur when cats are allergic to flea saliva, so they suffer from intense itchiness whenever they're bitten by a flea. This leads cats to scratch, chew, and bite their skin, leaving open sores, which can lead to a secondary infection. Prevention is better than treatment where flea allergies are concerned, so keep on top of flea treatments to prevent an infestation. However, if your cat does get bitten by fleas, medications can help relieve the itchiness until it has been treated for fleas and the itchiness goes away naturally.

Types of cat allergy medication

Antihistamines: These block the histamine receptors in the body. Once an allergen binds with these receptors, it causes allergic reactions, such as itching and swelling. Antihistamines can be extremely useful in the fight against allergies, but they’re most effective when taken as a preventative before symptoms occur.

Immunosuppressants: Allergic reactions are caused by an immune response. Normally, the immune system responds to dangerous pathogens and viruses, but in the case of allergies, it has misidentified certain allergens as harmful invaders. Slightly suppressing the immune system with immunosuppressant medications reduces the reaction to allergens. Immunosuppressants shouldn't be a first choice since they can increase your cat's susceptibility to bacterial and viral infection, but they can be used to treat serious allergic skin irritations.

Corticosteroids: These reduce swelling, itchiness, and redness, including those caused by an allergic reaction. They can be extremely effective at treating allergies in cats over the short term, but they're not the best choice for long-term use due to side effects, such as mood changes, weight gain, and other problems if you don't carefully taper the dose at the end of treatment.

Allergy serums: These are like allergy shots but taken orally instead of injected. They introduce tiny amounts of the allergen into the bloodstream, a process known as "immunotherapy," so that your cat's immune system learns not to react in a detrimental way. These usually need to be taken over a period of years but can completely cure allergies if you persevere.

Follow any dietary changes your cat's vet recommends. Certain allergies can be vastly improved by your cat eating the right diet.

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Features

Formulation

Tablets are the most common formulation for allergy medications, but you can also find some in capsule form or in liquid form to mix with food or squirt into your cat's mouth with a syringe. Ask your vet to prescribe a formulation that you're most likely to get your cat to take reliably.

Quantity

Some cat allergy medications are available in a pack of a designated size only, whereas others allow you to choose the exact number of tablets you require. You might be limited by the package size that your vet has prescribed. For instance, if your vet prescribes 30 doses of a certain medication, you won't be able to order a pack of 45.

Fillers

All medications have some filler ingredients that aren't active ingredients but make up the rest of the tablet or liquid. These shouldn't be harmful, but make sure they don't contain any ingredients your cat is allergic to.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Always check the potential side effects of any allergy medications that you intend to give your cat so that you can identify any side effects that occur.
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Cat allergy medication prices

Inexpensive: These cat allergy medications cost between $0.10 and $0.50 per dose. This doesn't mean the medication is less effective, just that it's available in a generic form, which brings the cost down.

Mid-range: At the middle of the price spectrum, you can expect to pay between $0.50 and $1 per dose. This includes some more expensive generics, as well as brand-name drugs.

Expensive: The costliest cat allergy medications cost between $1 and $4 per dose. These are usually brand-name medications that are still under patent and therefore not available in more affordable forms.

If your cat is diagnosed with a flea allergy, it's important that you keep up with preventative flea treatments that kill fleas before they can bite.

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Tips

  • Don't repurpose old allergy medications. Each cat allergy medication has its own uses, so if you have some meds left over from an old skin allergy your cat had, don't assume the medicine will work for an environmental allergy.
  • Pay extra attention to cats with asthma. Cats with asthma are more likely to suffer from inhalant allergies to substances like smoke, harsh cleaning products, and perfumes, so try to minimize their exposure to these substances.
  • Keep your cat indoors to prevent seasonal allergies. Cats that suffer from seasonal allergies will benefit from being kept indoors at times when the pollen count is high.
  • Persevere if allergy medications don't work at first. Not all allergy medications work equally well for all cats, so you might need to try a few before you find one that adequately relieves your cat's symptoms.
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Make sure your vet is aware of any other medications, vitamins, or supplements your cat is taking, because some could interact with allergy medications.

FAQ

Q. Will I need a prescription for cat allergy medication?

A. Unlike human allergy meds, which are usually available over the counter, cat allergy medications require a prescription from a vet. Once your vet has given you a prescription, however, it's generally cheaper to fill it online than buy directly from the veterinary practice. We wouldn't recommend giving your human allergy medication to your cat unless otherwise instructed by a vet.

Q. What are the signs my cat might have an allergy?

A. The signs and symptoms of allergies in cats vary depending on the allergy type, but they include sneezing, coughing, wheezing, runny eyes, itching, visibly sore or scabby skin, paw chewing, excessive grooming, itchy ears, and snoring due to an inflamed throat.

Q. How can I get my cat to take a tablet?

A. If you're struggling to get your cat to take its allergy tablets, try using pill pockets or wrapping the pills in a piece of deli meat. This works for most cats, but some are more stubborn, in which case you can try crushing the pills and mixing them with wet food or asking your vet if the medication is available in liquid form.

 

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