Antihistamines have been a popular choice of medication while treating allergies in human beings. It has also been successfully administered on animals such as dogs with full effect.
However, in the case of cats, recently antihistamines are being used to treat allergy and studies show that it has worked successfully for felines too.
These drugs are safe to use and effective, hence they can be used to treat allergies in pet cats.
What are Antihistamines
Antihistamines are a class of drugs that help to fight allergies in the body, caused by histamines. Antihistamine drugs nullify the effects of histamine, hence riding the body of the allergy.
- Histamines usually bind themselves to receptor cells, therefore triggering malfunction in sensory organs, such as sneezing, running nose, and more.
- Antihistamines are mainly categorized into two types – generation one and generation two. The first generation usually tends to cause drowsiness as a side effect. The second generation has no such records of side effects. However, the first generation of antihistamine drugs, are much cheaper and more easily available.
- These medications are inexpensive and can usually be bought without a prescription, from any pharmaceutical shop.
- They are cheap and effective with minimum or negligible side effects. Hence, this has been a preferred choice of medication for years.
- Antihistamine drugs can be used for short-term treatment, if the symptoms persist, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
- Antihistamines cannot fight chronic allergies such as asthma or respiratory tract infections. In such cases, it is recommended to take the help of a medical professional.
Allergies in Cats that Can be Treated by Antihistamines
- Allergy from Insect bites – This is the most common type of allergy seen in cats. In most cases, bites from fleas cause allergies. However, a sting from any insect can cause allergies in cats. Cats are curious creatures and often end up getting bitten by insects such as bees, causing allergies.
- Allergy from Inhalants – Cats have sensitive nostrils and often suffer from allergies due to smells that didn’t suit them. This can be caused by repellants, the scent of flowers, etc. Even smoke tends to cause allergies in cats. Given, the high rate of pollution, most house cats get allergies from smoke.
- Allergy from food – It may come as a surprise, but cats can be allergic to fish, chicken, beef, and wheat. In this case, it must be observed and noted down, if the cat is suffering from allergy after intake of a particular food. The food can be changed, after consulting a doctor.
Often the allergy is not caused by the food, some food has storage mites, that cause allergy in cats. While these mites also affect human beings, the effect on human beings is negligible, but it causes the cat’s major pain.
Sometimes pet cats are fed canned food and canned food contains chemicals or preservatives that may not suit the cat. This too can cause allergies.
In this case, the food brand can be changed to a healthier one. Many cats are allergic to canned food in general, natural food can be provided for them, as per the doctor’s advice.
- Allergy from chemical contact – Cats often meet chemicals from various sources, such as plants, cat litter, etc., which cause allergies in them.
Sometimes, chemicals contained in other medicines, cause allergy. In this scenario, the medicine causing allergy should be altered, upon consulting a doctor.
The grooming products used for cats including shampoos, soaps, and powders, also contain chemicals that may cause allergies in the cat.
In this case, the brand of products used must be chosen very carefully, on the recommendation of the doctor.
While human allergy causes sneezing etc., allergy usually affects the skin of the cats, causing irritation and rashes.
The very basic symptom of allergy in cats is continuous itching. The allergy irritates the skin, making the cat scratch more frequently than usual.
Rashes may also form on the skin. The other symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, which are much like human beings. Cats may also lose appetite during these times. If these symptoms are noticed, it is recommended to visit a doctor at the earliest.
Administration of Antihistamines
Before administration of any drugs on the cat, it is very important to diagnose the allergy. Once, the cat is diagnosed with a particular allergy, the doctor can determine the antihistamine, that can be administered to the cat.
- However, before using antihistamines, the cat must go through food trials and intradermal testing. Based on the results of these trials, if the doctor seems it fit to use antihistamines, these drugs can be used to treat the allergy.
- First, it must be verified that the use of antihistamines is necessary or not. If simple changes such as a change in the brand of product or change in diet can prevent the allergy, then use of external drugs, is not advised.
- For example, if the allergy is caused due to a particular food, then a simple change in diet will prevent the allergy. In case, the symptoms don’t improve, despite changes in diet, antihistamines can be used to treat it.
- Once, it has been decided, that antihistamine drugs need to be administered, it must be determined which medication is apt.
- Each cat has a different health system and therefore reacts differently to different allergens. For example, while one cat may get an allergy from a particular smell, another might not. Hence, it is very important to study the symptoms and understand the needs of the cat, before using antihistamine drugs.
- For this purpose, intradermal testing is done, where the cat is injected with multiple allergens. Red hives appear on the body of the cat and doctors can then detect the allergen causing the allergy and suggest the medication accordingly.
Usage and Dosages
Each cat has a different reaction to antihistamine drugs, hence doctors usually recommend that cats should undergo a trial period, before considering antihistamine drugs as the solution to treat allergies. If the symptoms improve during the trial period, the drugs can be further administered.
Some common drugs and their dosages are listed below.
- Atarax – Half of a tablet per cat, two to three times a day.
- Claratyne – One-fourth of a tablet per cat, once a day.
- Iramine – Half of a tablet per cat, two to three times a day.
- Periactin – One-fourth of a tablet or half of a tablet per cat, as per the degree of allergy, twice a day.
- Zyrtec – Half a tablet per cat, once a day.
These are easily available at any pharmaceutical store. These drugs are tried and tested and are safe to use, however, a doctor’s advice is always recommended before using any of these drugs.
One must decide carefully before choosing to use antihistamines on cats. Though these drugs are not harmful and effectively treat allergies, one should not expose the cat to external drugs until and unless necessary.