While cat food allergies are not hugely common − and can be mistaken for more common food intolerances − it is important to understand how to identify if your cat is suffering from a food allergy, and learn how to manage this food sensitivity so your cat can lead a happy and comfortable life.
What is a Food Allergy?A food allergy refers to “an abnormal immune-mediated reaction to an antigen within food”. It occurs when your cat’s immune system reacts abnormally to a particular protein found in his or her food. She will experience discomfort as her body tries to eliminate the allergen.
To What Foods Are Cats Commonly Allergic?While cat food allergies are relatively uncommon, there are some cat food ingredients that are more frequently found to induce allergic reactions than others. An allergy can only be formed to something they have been exposed to in the past, and not to a protein source they have never had before. Tufts University Veterinary Medical Center cites the following ingredients as some of the most common catalysts for allergic reactions in cats:
- Dairy products
Cat Food Allergy SymptomsSymptoms of a food allergy in cats typically involve either the skin or the gastrointestinal system. In contrast to environmental allergies, cats with food allergies will display symptoms all year long.
- Chronic itching and skin inflammation
- Gastrointestinal Issues
How to Identify if Your Cat is Suffering from Cat Food AllergiesIt is always important to discuss any health issues your cat is having with your veterinarian. Because there are numerous potential causes of skin and GI issues, your vet can help rule out many of these causes and determine if an allergy to food could be the culprit. Unfortunately, there is not an easy test for diagnosing food allergies. VCA Animal Hospitals recommend a food trial as a tool to diagnose your cat and identify any potential food allergy. This is done by feeding your cat a special diet for at least a month or two. There are two basic options to consider as a diet for a food trial. work to “disrupt the proteins within the diet so as to remove any existing allergens and prevent recognition by a patient sensitized to the intact protein”. In other words, they are diets in which the protein has been broken down into tiny pieces that are too small to be recognized by the immune system. Sources of hydrolyzed protein include:
- Chicken liver