Food allergies are one of the most common health complaints in cats. With symptoms like itching, swelling, and diarrhea, food allergies can be genuinely debilitating for your kitty. And yet, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what your cat is allergic to, making it difficult to relieve their symptoms.
So, what are feline food allergies? What are the most common food allergies in cats? What are the most common symptoms of food allergies for cats, and how can you treat your cat’s food allergies? In this article, we will lay out the answers to these questions and more. So, read on to find out what you can do about food allergies in cats.
What are feline food allergies?
If your cat has a food allergy, this means your kitty experiences negative symptoms as a result of eating a particular ingredient in their food. When your cat eats the food, its immune system reacts unusually to the antigens in the ingredient.
What are cats’ most common food allergies?
For a cat to develop an allergy to a certain food, it should have already been exposed to it. It is not possible for your cat to develop an allergy to a food that it hasn’t consumed yet. It is most likely for cats to be allergic to protein-rich foods; this includes dairy, chicken, fish, and beef. However, other allergies are also possible.
What are the symptoms of a feline food allergy?
If your cat has a food allergy, one of the most common symptoms is chronic skin inflammation and itching. You may notice redness and swelling around your cat’s face and ears, armpits, legs, paws, groin, and belly. If your cat is incredibly itchy, you will notice them grooming themselves more often. If your cat is grooming especially excessively, you may even see bald patches!
Another sign of food allergies in cats is recurring skin or ear infections. Recurring infections are often a cat’s only sign of allergies. One other typical food allergy symptom in cats is gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting. Rectum itching is common too; you may notice your cat ‘scooting’. If your cat has a food allergy, it may also have difficulty pooping. Your cat may strain when pooping or may poop more often.
How can I treat my cat’s food allergies?
If you’ve taken your cat to the vet’s to confirm a diagnosis of food allergies, your vet will probably recommend a food trial. A food trial helps you to find out precisely what ingredient your cat is allergic to. Your vet may recommend one of a few different food trial options. One is the hydrolyzed protein diet. The other options are a home-cooked or commercially available novel protein diet. In the hydrolyzed protein diet, the proteins in the cat food are broken down to the extent that your cat’s immune system no longer recognizes them. Because of this, your cat will be able to eat the ingredient they are allergic to without getting a reaction.
Whereas in a home-cooked novel protein diet, you prepare food for your cat that does not contain any of the proteins that are found in the food your kitty previously ate, you also have the option of the less tedious, more convenient commercially available novel protein diet. Whatever your vet recommends, there are a few things you have to keep an eye on during your cat’s food trial.
Firstly, you must ensure that your cat does not gain access to any other foods during the food trial. So this means clearing away plates promptly after dinner and leaving no crumbs under the table. This can be tough if your cat is particularly agile!
Secondly, you must also remember not to feed your kitty any treats or supplements during the food trial. Even these can set the trial back and may cause adverse symptoms for your cat.
Other causes of skin problems
If your cat spends a lot of time scratching and licking itself, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s
suffering from a food allergy. Itching may also be a sign of flea infestation or allergy to things in
the environment such as pollen, dust mites, or grass.
If your cat has been bit by fleas, your cat will itch a lot because flea saliva is an allergen. If you
notice that your cat has flea bites, consider getting a DEWELPRO. Your local vet may also give
you a product to help eliminate fleas, as well as medication to address their allergic reaction to
Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to determine if your cat is reacting to other allergens in its
environment such as pollen. Consult a vet so they can perform a skin test on your cat and discuss
with you its health history. After knowing the cause of your cat’s allergic reaction, the vet should
advise you to do some things, including the following:
- Keeping your cat away from the substances it’s allergic to
- Keeping your cat’s coat clean
- Ensuring that your cat gets the prescribed medication and regular allergy shots
Follow your vet’s instructions carefully to help your cat avoid allergic reactions.
What’s the next step for my cat?
After your cat completes their food trial, you can move on to a food challenge. To carry out a food challenge, you slowly introduce the foods that your kitty used to eat back into their diet while keeping a careful record of when you introduced the foods and how your cat reacts to each food.
If you notice the same symptoms coming back, you will know for sure that your cat has a dietary allergy. If your cat’s skin inflammation persists, your cat may have an environmental allergy instead.
Is hydrolyzed protein a good option?
As we touched upon previously, with hydrolyzed protein, the proteins in the food have been broken down in such a way that your cat’s body can’t recognize them. This way, your cat doesn’t show any negative symptoms. So, this must be a good idea, right?
Food containing hydrolyzed protein is alright for a food trial. However, just because the food has been hydrolyzed doesn’t mean that your cat can now digest the protein, though your cat won’t get an allergic reaction. Because of this, a cat with allergies who eats hydrolyzed cat food won’t get much nutrition from the food.
If your cat has allergies, you shouldn’t feed them the ingredients they are allergic to anymore. You need to find a different protein source instead.
What about insect-based cat food?
Insect-based cat food can be a good source of novel protein for your kitty. Your cat is very unlikely to be allergic to the protein found in insects. Most insect-based cat food is also grain-free and made with only the ingredients your kitty needs. This means your cat won’t be exposed to any other potential allergens again.
I Love My Cat makes insect-based cat food from 100% natural ingredients. With ingredients like salmon and linseed oils, as well as dried cranberries and tomatoes, your cat will love the delicious taste, and you will love the improvement in their health!
I Love My Cat offers dry insect cat food and wet insect cat food for cats struggling to meet their daily water intake needs or for cats who struggle with chewing. They even have hypoallergenic Insect-Soft-Snack for those times when your cat is being a good kitty and deserves a delicious allergen-free treat!