Living with an allergic cat

Have you been asking yourself the question “what if my cat has food allergies? what is a hypoallergenic diet for cats? how do I find food for allergic cats?” questions, we will try answering in a short and simple way. The topic of what is the best food for cats with allergies is not simple and the science is not perfect… or maybe our pets are perfect and we simply need to learn how to feed our cats better.

The term ‘food allergy’ is used to describe an abnormal reaction to an antigen within consumed food. If your cat is allergic or has an allergic reaction in simple terms – its immune system is reacting to a specific protein found in the food it ate. The problem is that the cat’s immune system “thinks” that certain protein in a food is an invader, not a food item and starts an immune response. Science knows the mechanism of food allergies but it doesn’t know why these allergies occur and why some cats have them and others don’t.

Cat food allergies are very common and they mostly present as skin problems but can also show other symptoms – the list is long from gastrointestinal signs like vomiting, flatulence or diarrhoea to behavioural changes. The symptoms can appear alone or together, sometimes all symptoms at once. A terrible experience for the owner and the cat, which is not only scratching itself but also suffering from have gastric problems.

Foods which are the most common allergens are beef, fish, seafood, chicken, eggs, dairy products, soya or corn, though there is still limited research in this field and the list is slowly getting longer. There is no fully reliable allergy test that could tell us straight if your pet is allergic to a specific food. In addition, a food allergy can develop in any stage of a cat’s life – it can happen to a small kitten as well to a mature cat (though most common allergies start before the age of 2 years). It is true though that different cats have different genetic predispositions to food allergies and food allergies are more common in some cat breeds.

Common symptoms of food allergy in cats

– Chronic itching and skin inflammation (face, ears, belly, groin, armpits, and legs/paws)
– Over-grooming, causing significant trauma – wounds, abrasions, biting own skin
– Recurrent infections of both the skin and ears, red bumps and lesions
– Patches of hair loss
– Skin ulceration
– Neck dermatitis
– Crusty skin
– Behavioural changes
– Chronic ear infections
– Recurring skin bacterial infections or yeast infections
– Vomiting or diarrhoea
– Frequent bowel movements, flatulence or strain when they are defecating
– Poor growth in young kittens
– Coughing, wheezing and sneezing

What foods are cats allergic to?

Beef Lamb Meat byproducts Fish
Seafood Corn products Wheat Gluten
Soya Dairy products Preservatives Artificial colouring
Eggs Some cats are allergic to Chicken

What if my cat has a food allergy?

Do not panic, if your cat shows symptoms of an allergy. There is a tool that can help you to eliminate your cat’s food allergy. It is called a “food trial” or an “elimination diet” (some also refer to it as a “hypoallergenic cat diet”). Starting an elimination diet means feeding your pet food that only contains a few ingredients. That way the best-known allergens are slowly eliminated from the diet. It all depends on what kind of food you were feeding your cat before. Check how many and what kinds of ingredients it has.

It is often recommended to change the core protein and sticking to mono-protein diet (we already know cats should be fed a meat-based diet). If you feed your cat with chicken, eliminate it, if beef, eliminate it as well. Try to switch to a mono-protein or duo-protein diet consisting of safe proteins (for example turkey and rabbit, as both are less allergenic).

Your vet might advisce switching to homemade cat food for cats with allergies, but remember that your cat needs to eat a full meal. It needs to contain not only meat but certain minerals, vitamins and amino acids as well so it is best to purchase very good quality mono- or duo-protein based foods. If after one to two weeks of the hypoallergenic cat food the signs of allergy start to disappear it means you have eliminated the allergen from the diet. But keep in mind, that full recovery takes a long time.

Most common cat food allergies

Cats often have an allergy to preservatives, colourants and food enhancers. The bad news is, that according to international law, food producers are not obliged to list these on the label. But you can always contact the producer and request detailed information on which chemicals are used.

When selecting your cat’s diet (food, snacks and any other vitamin boosters), it would be wise to check for unnecessary contents listed to be sure those foods do not include allergens – for example, gelatine originates from pigs, use of chicken eggs and eggshells is common for providing calcium and fish oils are common additives.

What is the difference between food allergy and food intolerance

How to distinguish between food allergy and food intolerance?

An allergy is a response by a cat’s immune system to defend itself against something that it perceives as a threat. An allergic reaction doesn’t happen the first time an individual cat is exposed to the ingredient but starts showing after repeated consumption.

Food intolerances do not involve the immune system and is more likely to cause only gastrointestinal responses such as changes in the consistency or colour of the cat’s stool or unusual sounds from the digestive system.

3coty® can be your elimination diet with mono-protein or duo-protein cat food

3coty® natural cat food can easily be used as elimination diet – all our products are mono or duo proteins and free from such allergens as corn, soya, wheat, fish and eggs. Despite being a limited ingredient cat food, it is complete. We do not use any preservatives, colourants or food enhancers. 3coty® cat and kitten food is fully balanced and suitable for all stages of your pet’s life.

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