When you have cats in your home, you also have litter boxes. While you might put lots of thought into choosing the best food and treats for your cat, you probably think a little bit less about your choice when it comes to cat litter. If your cat develops a cat litter allergy, though, the type of litter you use will play an important role in your cat's health.
Understanding cat allergies
According to WebMD, if your cat has allergies, his immune system starts to identify everyday substances as being dangerous. Even though the substance may be common in your environment and harmless to your cat, his body becomes overly sensitive to it, and this can result in extreme reactions. When your cat's body tries to get rid of the irritating substance, you start to see some of the common allergy symptoms, like a runny nose and watery eyes.
Canna-Pet notes that cat litter often triggers an airborne allergen caused by the dust that comes off of your cat's litter box. Scented litter is more likely to cause an allergic reaction than unscented litter. Most clay cat litters generate silica dust that gets in your cat's eyes and causes breathing issues, among other problems.
A cat litter allergy can present a variety of symptoms.
According to VetInfo, cats who are allergic to their cat litter may experience a number of respiratory issues. Cats may sneeze frequently in an effort to eliminate the irritant from their nasal and air passages. Cats often develop itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose. They may have a dry cough, and if their respiratory passages swell, cats may wheeze.
Your cat's skin may also reveal signs of her allergy. According to Canna-Pet, your cat's skin may become itchy, and you may notice her frequently scratching at her skin. She may also develop a cat litter rash.
This skin rash, called allergic contact dermatitis, can arise just hours after your cat has come into contact with her litter. Cat-World explains that contact dermatitis will gradually settle down over the course of a few days, but this will only happen if your cat is no longer coming into contact with the irritating material. Because your cat will use her litter box multiple times a day, litter box dermatitis will not be able to heal on its own.
VetInfo notes that in extreme cases, an allergy to cat litter can lead to anaphylactic shock in cats. This is sometimes preceded by a cat developing a swollen face. Anaphylactic shock is a severe reaction, and your cat's airway may swell to the point where he can't breathe.
Anaphylactic shock is an emergency and requires immediate treatment. Your cat will need an epinephrine shot within seven minutes of the beginning of the episode, or he could go into a coma or die. If your cat has a known severe allergy to litter, then your vet may want to prescribe you epinephrine to have on hand in your home. You should also be sure to avoid types of litter that trigger the allergic reaction.
Dealing with a cat litter allergy
If your cat is allergic to her litter, you may need to try another brand or another type of litter. Opt for an unscented, low-dust litter to help reduce your cat's chances of being allergic.
If your cat's allergies are severe or don't go away after changing the litter, make an appointment with your vet. Your vet may prescribe medication to help control the allergy and get your cat feeling better.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.