Flea-Bite Allergy in Cats
Signs of flea‑bite allergy result from hypersensitivity (allergy) to flea saliva. In an allergic cat, the bite of a single flea may cause a serious problem. Extensive skin damage may result from the cat’s biting, licking, and scratching. Although flea‑bite allergy can be treated, it often recurs because flea eggs may hatch up to 1 year after being deposited in the environment, most of the flea’s life cycle occurs off the cat, your cat’s environment may be contaminated with fleas, and even an occasional flea bite can trigger the allergic reaction. Flea allergies are most troublesome in the summer and fall in areas with cold winters and warm summers. In warm climates or in heated, flea‑infested houses, flea allergy may occur throughout the year. In cats, the main signs of flea allergy are excessive hair loss and small red papules with reddish brown crusts. Sores are most prevalent around the neck, lower back, the base of the tail, and abdomen. Important Points in Treatment
- Flea allergies usually worsen as animals age. Signs may begin earlier in the flea season and last longer. Also, skin reactions generally become more severe.
- Treatment includes flea control on the pet and in the environment, and suppression of the allergic reaction. Occasionally desensitization of the cat is attempted.
- Desensitization (“allergy shots”) to flea saliva is controversial. In some cases, good results are achieved, while other cats fail to respond. The doctor will discuss the advisability of desensitization for your cat.
Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur
- Your cat damages its skin by biting and scratching.
- Your cat’s skin becomes red, hot or puffy or oozes fluid.
- Your cat’s condition recurs after treatment.
- Your cat’s general health changes.