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Feline Food Allergies

 Most of us do not think of cats having allergies or food intolerance. In  Cat Fancy, “A Sensitive Issue, does your cat need a hypoallergenic diet?”,  Ramona D Marek, MS ED, discusses your cat’s diet as it relates to allergies and intolerance. The good news is that your cat’s need for certain medications may be eliminated through diet.

To make it simple, a food allergy is an immune system response to food. These may appear as early as 2 years old.  Blood and skin tests do not reveal food allergies or intolerance. You’ll see vomiting, diarrhea and frequent defecation. The skin may have small bumps, itching irritation and redness near the head and neck but may appear elsewhere on your pet. You may find your cat scratching often in these itchy areas and the areas are crusty. You may also see hair loss.

A food intolerance is likely a reaction to protein, carbohydrates or additives, or a combination of ingredients. Symptoms may show up as quickly as 15 minutes after eating. You’ll see GI upset, vomiting, diarrhea and/or gas.

The most commonly identified food allergies and intolerance are beef, fish and chicken. Sometimes pork, dairy products and eggs may have a response. Looking at your cat food ingredients, this pretty much can sum up the food contents!  Sometimes our cat may tell us what is good for it and what is not. My cat, Moola, won’t eat eggs.

The treatment is to identify and eliminate the food causing the condition. Maybe a hypoallergenic diet is the answer. This diet limits ingredient to one carbohydrate, one protein, a fat source and micro-nutrients. Fiber elements may vary or be modified. Omega-3 fatty acids may be added along with antioxidants. It may take several attempts to find the right diet because you are testing and eliminating foods. A limited-ingredient diet is usually fed for 12 weeks. When the symptoms disappear, you return your cat to the original diet. If the symptoms reappear, a food allergy is confirmed. It is also important to know that no one-size-fits-all hypoallergenic diet exists. You must determine the diet through test and elimination.

Your cat may be itching while you are seeking a hypoallergenic diet.  A Cat World article discusses many cause of miliary dermatitis in cats.  Don’t expect that the diet is the only cause of your cat’s itching and scratching. I recommend reading this Cat World article and consulting you veterinarian.

If you cat is allergic to fish, poultry or beef, you may want to use novel protein sources. These novel protein sources include duck, venison and rabbit. Some pet food companies are making food lines with these novel proteins. My friend Lunakatz, who breeds Bengals, feeds her cats a raw diet of mixed novel proteins including venison. They grind their own food and store it. Her cats sometimes lick the grinding machine after she is finished with processing her food. In addition the cats are given a super-premium kibble food diet as well.

In addition to the novel protein you’ll need one carbohydrate of green pea, potato or rice. My cat, Moola, loves rice so it is an easy menu item for me. You may find your pet enjoying one of these simple carb menu items, too.


I recommend reading the Cat Fancy and Cat World articles and further consulting your veterinarian.


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