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Environmental Allergies and Your Cat

Environmental allergies can arise in cats due to exposure to particular allergens in their natural environment, both indoors and outdoors. Environmental allergies are also known as atopic allergies. A cat may be more prone to environmental or atopic allergies if its natural skin barrier isn't functioning properly, by allowing allergens to enter the body through the outer layer of its skin.

As a result, a cat's immune system will react negatively to the allergens leading to inflammation that results in an allergic reaction.

Illustration of cat entering house

What Can Cause Environmental Allergies in Cats?

Dust, mold and grass are all common allergens that may result in an allergic reaction in cats. Such allergens are often present and common in everyday life so it can be tricky to eliminate them from your cat's environment completely. 

Also, depending on the season or time of year, certain allergies, such as pollen allergies in cats and grass allergies in cats may be more present in the warmer months. 

Ginger cat sat on pavement near a bush

How Do Food Allergies and Environmental Allergies Differ?


A food allergy arises when a dietary allergen, typically a protein causes an adverse reaction. Whereas an environmental allergy is the result of an inflammatory response to an allergen in a cat's natural environment.

Knowing the difference between these two types of allergies is difficult, so it's key to speak to your veterinarian if you notice your cat showing any signs that indicate an allergy.

Learn more about the difference between the allergies in our article: What is Causing My Cat’s Allergic Reaction – Food or their Environment?


Grey and white cat sitting scratching neck with paw

Signs of Common Skin Conditions Caused by Allergies in Cats

Environmental allergies can arise at any time for cats but some seasons may mean particular allergies and the accompanying signs are more present.

The most common signs of environmental allergies are as follows:

  • Itching
  • Scratching
  • Chewing and licking the feet
  • Rashes
  • Redness
  • Darkening of the skin
  • Learn more about the different allergies and signs in our article.

    Why do environmental allergies occur?
    White and black cat being held and stroked by a man and woman

    Supporting Cats With Environmental Allergies

    If your cat has been diagnosed with an environmental allergy your veterinarian may recommend steps to help ease the signs and their discomfort.

    Their recommendations will depend on the type of environmental allergy but may include regularly cleaning to remove dust or using shampoo recommended by a veterinarian when bathing.

    Speak to your veterinarian to get advice on supporting your cat if they have been diagnosed with an environmental allergy.

    Understand Environmental Allergies in Cats

    Quickly learn about environmental allergies in cats with these short frequently asked questions.

    The airborne particles that typically cause environmental allergies in cats are mold, house dust mites, dander (skin cells), and pollen. If a cat has an allergy to one of these substances, its skin will become itchy and inflamed upon exposure. The reason cats develop allergies is a topic of discussion, but it’s believed they inherit the tendency to develop allergies.

    If you think your cat has environmental allergies, arrange an appointment with your vet. They can help diagnose the cause of your cat’s signs and recommend a suitable treatment. Cats can develop allergies to many things, however. So, it’s possible that their skin issues aren't being caused by the environment, but by an allergy to parasites or certain foods. Other conditions affect cat skin health too, so it’s always best to get a veterinary diagnosis.

    It means your cat’s immune system is reacting to something in their surroundings; potentially causing issues with their skin and gastrointestinal tract. The trigger could be a substance in your home or an allergen they interact with outdoors. Because pollen allergies are fairly common in cats, you may also hear environmental allergies being referred to as seasonal allergies.

    Skin itchiness is the most common indicator of an environmental allergy, and so you may notice your cat scratching excessively, rubbing against furniture, or over-grooming themselves. Hair loss is possible, and you may see red rashes or dark patches appearing on their skin. Cats with environmental allergies are also more susceptible to ear and skin infections.