The most important treatment for flea allergies is to control and prevent flea bites. Strict flea control is the backbone of successful treatment. There are many products available for flea control, and in some cases, multiple products may be needed. Some are used on the cat and some in the cat’s environment. Fortunately, with today’s modern and highly efficacious flea preventives, flea control is achievable by all cat owners.
Corticosteroids (“cortisone” or “steroids”) can be used to block the allergic reaction and give immediate relief. This is often a necessary part of dealing with flea allergy. Some cats respond best to long-acting injections and others to oral medication. Cats are much more resistant to the negative side-effects of steroids than humans and dogs, but significant side-effects can occur if they are not used properly. For this reason, the goal is to administer the smallest amount of steroid needed to keep the cat comfortable.
Some cats can be desensitised to the adverse effects of flea bites. Flea saliva extract (flea antigen) is injected into the cat in tiny amounts over a prolonged period of time. This is an attempt to reprogram the cat’s immune system so it no longer over-reacts to flea bites. If successful, itching no longer occurs or is less intense when the cat is bitten. This approach is successful approximately 50-75% of the time.