Our cat friends suffer from allergies just like us. These have multiple origins which may be environmental, seasonal, linked to chronic disease or simply linked to diet.
So, what is a cat food allergy or “intolerance dermatitis”? How to spot it and how to treat it? We take stock of this issue.
Food allergy or intolerance dermatitis in cats: definition
Food allergy, or intolerance dermatitis, can be explained by many factors. Most of the time, this is an allergic reaction caused by a protein in the food given to your mustached friend. It will therefore be necessary to look at your cat’s diet to find the food or foods responsible for his allergy in order to remove them from his daily intake.
Food allergy can be triggered by the introduction of a new food, a change of brands of kibble or a change of recipe. It is necessary to distinguish food allergy from food intolerance in order to fully understand what we are talking about.
Food intolerance results from an inappropriate diet, quite simply because it is not suitable for the digestive and immune system of the cat. The best known is lactose intolerance, since milk is by no means recommended for adult cats.
Food allergy, on the other hand, is caused by an ingredient in your cat’s food, which is unsuitable for him and causes him to be rejected. Diarrhea and vomiting are therefore often associated with food allergy, because their immune system reacts to eliminate the “unwanted” food. Abnormal scratching, excessive licking, and the appearance of itching with or without hair loss can also be associated with a food allergy.
The good news is that a food allergy, unlike an environmental allergy for example, can be spotted and cured, simply by removing the ingredient causing the allergy in your cat.
In order to avoid cat food allergies, the owner can take a few simple measures to limit their occurrence …
Our advice to avoid food allergy in cats
Since food allergy in cats comes from their food, you have the option of preventing it by taking care of their food and the ingredients it contains.
Here are the precautions you can take to avoid developing a food allergy:
- Avoid frequent dietary changes: if your cat is used to a wet diet (mash, jellies) or on the contrary to a solid diet (kibble), there is no point in changing his habits, especially if he is in good health
- If you introduce a new brand of cat food: do it gradually and monitor your cat’s behavior (appearance of stool, vomiting, untimely scratching), if it is abnormal, go back to its previous diet
- Keep the labels with the list of ingredients: we don’t think much about it, but yet these elements can provide valuable information on the food could cause an allergy, it is necessarily in the list
By following these few tips, you will often prevent the allergy from setting in. But your cat may also develop an age-related food allergy or a change in metabolism.
Once the allergy is present, it is necessary to treat it to find the food in question, but also to rule out other pathologies for the health of your animal …
Installed food allergy: consult your veterinarian
If your cat is showing mild symptoms, keep a food dashboard and keep the ingredient lists on packets and cans of industrial food. Try to isolate the agent responsible for his allergy.
On the other hand, if the allergy lasts several months, or if it manifests itself by diarrhea, vomiting, itching, you will be quite helpless in the face of your cat’s distress. For his well-being, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian quickly.
To begin with, this animal health professional will rule out possible illnesses and pathologies in your cat. Once the diagnosis of food allergy is made, he can suggest an exclusion diet.
The exclusion or exclusion regime
To find the responsible allergen, the veterinarian may choose to practice the exclusion or exclusion diet. This must be strictly followed to ensure its reliability. The idea is to expose your cat to new foods, which usually do not trigger allergy, such as protein from horse or rabbit meat and carbohydrates such as potatoes or tapioca for example.
This strict diet can be obtained by household rations, by preparing meals yourself with the advice of your veterinarian, or with ready-to-use medical foods. Of course, your cat shouldn’t be given any treats while on the elimination diet. An improvement is then observed after 4 to 6 weeks and it is necessary to continue the diet for 10 to 12 weeks minimum.
Find the responsible allergen
If the avoidance diet has worked and your cat is no longer showing any symptoms, then there is no doubt that he is suffering from a food allergy. In this case, the exclusion diet can be followed by the “provocation test”.
This involves reintroducing one by one and in isolation the foods often responsible for food allergies. They are generally animal proteins such as beef, chicken or fish or even cereal foods such as wheat, corn, soy.
You will thus know which food is responsible for the food allergy, but you must be aware that reintroducing the allergenic ingredients is not pleasant for the cat, nor for its owner. In addition, your cat may be allergic to several proteins or grains.
Adopt a diet adapted to cat food allergies
Once the allergen is known and isolated, you can switch to a new diet that will cover both the nutritional needs of your choice and prevent the appearance of symptoms.
For this, you can find suitable food in stores, at the veterinarian or switch to household rations with veterinary advice. Of course, do not change his food for his comfort and his health, except veterinary advice to the contrary.
Finally, there are many brands of cat food that offer anti-allergenic foods. These croquettes and pâtés de facto exclude all the ingredients responsible for food allergies, while being adapted to the needs of your feline.
Food allergy in cats is a source of discomfort for your pet, but also a danger for their long-term health. It is therefore advisable to adopt as soon as possible a diet designed for his well-being and his health. Food allergy is rare, but can start at any age.