The More You Know: My Cat Grim Had a Skin Allergy

Callista BondPost written by Callista Bond, Creative Entrepreneur | Graphic Designer | Photographer | Artist | Planeteer

Keeping your pets healthy and happy is usually pretty easy… as long as you take all the proper precautions of course.

Unfortunately, there are unknowns, mystery illnesses and annoyances that may suddenly plague your pet. Paying attention to what’s going on with your pet’s health, and taking the right actions to make sure your pet’s condition doesn’t worsen, should be a top priority for every pet mom or dad.

This past fall I had to play the game of “Guess my cat’s skin allergy.” Grim, my 10-year-old fur baby, developed a sore near his right ear.  Scratches and small sores near his ears aren’t uncommon, but even though we keep Grim’s back claws trimmed and neat, he tends to find himself in prickly situations from time to time.

cat-1But I’d never seen a sore quite like this one, which was oozing clear fluid, looked tender and just wouldn’t heal. I kept an eye on the lesion, played nurse and kept it clean for less than a week before deciding to call my vet.

When we arrived the vet informed us that it wasn’t a scratch, but a granuloma – a lesion likely caused by some kind of allergy. But the mystery was…what caused the allergy?  He’d just had an annual check-up, a senior cat blood work-up and a fecal test, yet there was nothing out of the ordinary. He was a perfectly healthy cat.

After a shot from the vet to help heal his granuloma, they recommended we try to find out what could’ve potentially caused the allergic reaction. Trial and elimination were the only ways we were going to find the culprit in this case. I began researching some of the most common causes of cat skin allergies. Here’s what I found:

GROOMING PRODUCTS

cat-2Just like humans, cats can have adverse reactions to certain grooming products. Over-grooming your cat, or dog for that matter, can also dry out their skin and cause irritation and itching.

If your pet is exhibiting signs of skin irritation after using a certain grooming product, discontinue use and watch your pet for signs of improvement. If symptoms continue, it’s best to always call your vet!

FOOD

While food allergies are primarily gastrointestinal – causing diarrhea, vomiting, etc., they can cause skin disorders in cats. If you notice your cat exhibiting symptoms of an allergic reaction to food, discontinue feeding it to them.

Trial diets are recommended for pets when switching or adding new foods to their diet. You can find a lot of recommendations online on how to do a diet trial for your cat, but your best bet is to get the advice from your vet before starting.

ENVIRONMENTAL IRRITANTS

Environmental irritants are the most common cause of skin allergies in cats and dogs… the suspected culprits are fleas or other insect bites! Other environmental factors can cause skin allergies in cats as well, such as plants and household cleaning products. Make sure you’re taking extra precautions around your home when you have a pet around.

After it was all said and done, what caused my cat’s skin allergy granuloma? The truth is I can only suspect and not confirm. He hadn’t been groomed recently with any topical grooming products other than his brush. He’d started a new natural hairball chew, which I discontinued.

Although he exhibited no other food-related allergy symptoms, the granuloma later came back. He was on a regular flea and tick treatment and showed no signs of infestation… but not all insects are created equal. The turning point for me was when I went outside our house myself.

We have two big beautiful oak trees in our front yard. In the fall we like to open the windows and turn on our attic fan to let in the fresh air. The window is right next to one of our big oak trees. This past year we had terrible oak mites.

I would go outside for just minutes and come back in with bites all over my body. Itchy, irritating little blisters would form and take weeks to heal. Could these little oak mites have gotten to my little fur ball? Quite possibly, but there’s not enough research on the web that verifies what these little mites will do to your pet or if they’re affected by flea and tick medication.

Thankfully, Grim has since healed and we’ve had the house closed up for winter. We haven’t noticed any skin issues with him since!

Maybe I solved the mystery or maybe I’ll just have to wait and see until next year’s round of oak mites!