What Are Feline Food Allergies?
Allergy or intolerance to certain foods, such as seafood, milk or peanuts, is common among people. Cats also can have food allergy or food tolerance issues, although their manifestation can be different from what people experience.
Food allergies in cats can develop at any time — even after years of eating a food without problems. The culprit is usually a common protein source, such as beef or dairy, but cats can become allergic to any such ingredient.
Adverse food reactions account for approximately 10% to 15% of all allergic skin diseases in dogs and cats.¹
¹SOURCE: Tilley LP, Smith FWK. The 5-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine and Feline. 3rd ed. Ames, IA: Blackwell Publishing; 2004.
Feline Allergy Checklist
Take Precautions at Home
- Take Precautions at Home
- If you have more than one pet, feed other cats in a different location to ensure your allergic cat doesn't eat their food.
- Keep all cats out of the room at your mealtime, so they don't receive table scraps.
- Don't give your cats human food or non-approved treats.
- Don't offer seemingly “harmless” items, such as toothpaste or edible toys, because they could contain a potential allergen.
- Keep your cats away from garbage and compost receptacles.
Work With Your Veterinarian
- Ask your veterinarian about medications your cat is taking. Some medications can trigger an allergic reaction in some cats.
- Keep a journal of other foods your cat may have eaten, so if there is a reaction, you can provide useful information to your veterinarian.
- Contact your veterinarian with any questions or concerns.
How Are Food Allergies Indentified In Cats?
To determine if your cat has a food allergy or food intolerance, your veterinarian can conduct a diet elimination trial. The goal of the trial is to identify, and then eliminate, the food source that is triggering your cat's allergic reaction. If your pet responds favorably to the diet trial and the symptoms disappear, food allergy or intolerance is the likely cause.
Bear in mind that food allergies cannot be diagnosed on the spot. A diet elimination trial typically lasts eight to 12 weeks, with the exact time frame determined by your veterinarian. You will need to carefully follow the diet plan recommended for your cat. During the trial, this special diet must be fed exclusively.
How Do Food Allergies Affect Cats?
In cats, a food allergy or intolerance generally appears as gastrointestinal (GI) upset, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, excess gas or weight loss; or intense itching and scratching, which can involve the ears, face, feet, tail and stomach. Itching can result in red, irritated-looking skin.
Food allergy or intolerance can make both you and your cat miserable. So, it’s important to see your veterinarian as soon as possible if your pet experiences any of these symptoms.