Allergies are common in cats. For effective relief, take an integrative approach to your itchy kitty.
by Shawn Messonnier, DVM Reprinted with permission of Animal Wellness Magazine, © 2006, www.animalwellnessmagazine.com
For short term relief
Corticosteroids very quickly relieve inflammation and itching. The safest way to use them is to administer an oral form that will leave the body within 24 hours. The lowest effective dose should be used for the shortest length of time. As a rule, this means corticosteroids are only given on days when the cat is uncomfortably itchy. Injectable corticosteroids such as methylprednisolone acetate are also often used, since many people find it difficult to give oral medications to their cats. While these very potent formulations can be used a few times a year, it is best to limit them and use the lowest effective dose. Side effects are more common with these longer- acting injectable medications. While their anti-itching effects often wear off in a few weeks, they last in the cat’s body for several months and can cause immune system depression, chronic infections and diabetes.
While antihistamines can be effective in some animals with allergies, they are not as effective as corticosteroids. As well, they usually need to be given two or more times a day. If they work, however, there are no recognizable serious long term side effects.