Are Cats Allergic to Mold?

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Fact checked by  Jackie Brown
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An image of a curious cat exploring a dirt-filled environment, displaying its natural inquisitiveness and playful nature.

Mold can be found anywhere whether inside and outside, as its fungal matter thrives on warmth and moisture. Basements and dark, damp corners are obvious culprits, but pet beds can also harbor mold spores, as well as pet food if not correctly stored.

Key Takeaways

Some cats are very sensitized to mold, so mold spores can set off an allergic reaction.

Even if cats are not allergic, ingesting or inhaling mold can still cause health problems, especially in the case of toxic black mold.

Cats can respond to mold exposure with skin symptoms such as itching and sore spots, respiratory symptoms such as sneezing or coughing, or gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting or diarrhea.

Mold can be harmful in a few ways for cats. Some cats are allergic to mold and have severe skin reactions if they come into contact with it. Mold can also be detrimental to our feline friends if inhaled or eaten. Some molds can be extremely toxic to cats and any exposure requires prompt veterinary treatment.

Common Symptoms of Mold Allergies in Cats

Just like humans, cats can suffer from allergies. Cats can be allergic to many things, including parasites, certain foods, or things in their environment, such as pollen or dust.

One of these environmental allergens is mold. Unlike us humans, however, cat allergies usually present with skin problems, rather than the runny nose and sneezing that us people suffer from.

Typically, allergies in cats present with dermatological symptoms. Here are some signs that your cat may have allergies:

  • Excessive itching and scratching
  • Excessive licking or over-grooming
  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Red skin, including the paws
  • Sores on the skin
  • Runny nose or eyes

The symptoms of mold exposure are different. With mold exposure, a cat is not necessarily allergic to mold spores but they can still become unwell if mold is taken in through inhalation or ingestion. Some cats have a greater sensitization to mold than others.

When inhaled, mold can lead to breathing difficulties, sneezing, coughing, and nosebleeds. In severe cases, mold spores can cause damage to the lungs, leading to bleeding (small nasal hemorrhages, or more threatening pulmonary hemorrhage) which can lead to severe illness and long-term health problems.

If your cat eats mold (for example when playing with old toys or via their pet food), their reaction to mold exposure might be more gastric in nature. Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite are common symptoms with ingestion of mold spores.

In rare cases, cats can become severely unwell if they are in contact with certain toxic black mold species, such as Stachybotrys chartarum. These deadly mold species release mycotoxins that can cause more concerning symptoms such as profuse vomiting, tremors, hemorrhages, and even seizures. Seek professional advice immediately from your veterinarian if your cat displays any of these signs.

Also Read: Cat Coughing: Causes And Treatment

Diagnosis of Mold Allergies in Cats

An image depicting a cat engaging in excessive licking behavior, potentially indicating grooming or stress-related tendencies.

If you suspect your cat is suffering from any allergy, whether from mold exposure or something else, schedule a checkup with your veterinarian.

Our pets can develop many different types of allergies. If your cat is unwell, seek help from veterinary professionals to discuss their symptoms. Your veterinarian will examine your cat thoroughly and will likely discuss their symptoms and their recent history, asking all about their pet food, their environment, and anything new that they may have been exposed to.

Your veterinarian might want to do some tests to rule out some other causes of illness. They might take skin samples to look for fleas or other parasites and to check for evidence of infection. If allergies are suspected, your veterinarian might recommend a skin test or a blood test that can look for sensitization of the body (allergies) to environmental factors such as dust and dander, which should also include mold allergies.

Also Read: 10 Subtle Signs Your Cat May Be Sick

What To Do if Your Cat Is Allergic to Mold

An image illustrating the process of cleaning mold, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a safe and healthy environment for both humans and cats.

The best way to help a cat with mold allergies is to treat mold problems so your cat is not exposed.

If your veterinarian has discovered that your cat has a mold allergy, you will understandably be concerned. Environmental allergies can be a difficult illness to manage, and can be linked to other health problems.

If your cat is showing symptoms of mold allergy, such as excessive licking, scratching, or sore skin, your veterinarian may prescribe medication to help relieve symptoms and improve your cat’s skin health. Itchy skin is a distressing symptom and so using medication is recommended to control this aggravation and prevent your cat from excessive scratching, which can damage the skin.

In the longterm, the best way to manage a mold allergy is to avoid your cat being exposed to mold. This is tricky, as mold spores can get everywhere! Mold loves moisture, and is often found in damp areas such as basements and crawl spaces, or outside on walls or even in tree stumps.

Keeping damp areas thoroughly and regularly cleaned can help reduce the number of mold spores, and good hygiene when it comes to your cat’s toys and pet beds is essential. There are also companies that can send in professionals to clear areas such as basements from mold.

Storing pet food in an airtight container and keeping bowls clean will reduce ingestion. If your cat goes outdoors, wiping them over with a damp towel when they come back in will remove mold spores clinging to their fur.

In Summary

Mold spores are one of many environmental allergies that can be present in cats. Allergies in cats usually present with skin symptoms such as scratching, licking, or sore skin. Mold can also cause illness if eaten or inhaled.

Your veterinarian will be able to confirm a mold allergy and discuss how you can manage and treat your cat’s symptoms. Allergies in cats can be treated with a variety of medications but reducing the amounts of mold around your cat is essential for good management.

Mold thrives in moisture and warmth so excellent hygiene in their favorite spots and around food, bedding, and toys is recommended.

Also Read: The 6 Best Automatic Self Cleaning Litter Boxes

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cats more sensitive to mold?

Some cats are very sensitized to mold, to the point that mold spores can set off an allergic reaction. Other cats are more tolerant, but ingesting or inhaling mold can still cause health problems. Toxic black mold is always of concern.

What are the symptoms of mold exposure in cats?

Your cat may respond to mold exposure in three ways that. First, with skin symptoms such as itching and sore spots. Second, with respiratory symptoms such as sneezing or coughing. Lastly, with gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting or diarrhea.

Can mold kill cats?

Most species of mold are unlikely to cause severe disease. Toxic black mold can cause life-threatening symptoms such as bleeding from the lungs and seizures.

How does mold affect cats?

Mold can cause allergic reactions in cats, or can cause illness through ingestion or inhalation. It can cause health problems which range from very minor through to extremely serious.

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About Dr. Lizzie Youens BSc (Hons) BVSc MRCVS

Lizzie has worked in companion animal practice for over ten years, in a variety of roles from small rural branch surgeries to large hospital environments. She also enjoys reading, gardening and spending time with her young daughters. She covers cat behavior, nutrition, health, and other topics for