All about food allergies in cats
Food allergies are also common in cats. When there is a food allergy, the cat’s immune system overreacts to a certain non-harmful ingredient in the food. This is unpleasant for your cat and for you, too, naturally. But what are the symptoms of food allergies in cats? How can I be sure that a food allergy is the problem? And what food is recommended?
A cat with food allergies: What are the symptoms?
The most common cause of food allergies is a certain type of protein. This means your cat is having a overreaction to proteins from sources such as beef, chicken or pork. However, vegetable proteins can also cause allergic reactions. The most common symptoms of food allergies in cats:
- Itching in the ears and around the head (most common symptom) or even all over the body
- Gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting (also see below.)
- Oily and smelly skin, sometimes thicker and darker than normal
- Skin infections
- Loss of appetite (and resulting weight loss)
Food allergies: Can they cause vomiting in cats?
Definitely. Gastrointestinal problems, including vomiting, are one of the possible symptoms of food allergies in cats. If the problem is, in fact, a food allergy, then vomiting normally goes hand-in-hand with itching.
Can diarrhea also be a symptom of food allergy?
One of the symptoms of food allergies in cats is diarrhea. Of course, diarrhea by itself can have many different causes. Just as with vomiting, diarrhea caused by food allergies is often accompanied by itching.
How can I be sure that my cat has a food allergy?
First of all, does your cat have one or more of the above symptoms? If so, always contact your veterinarian. If your veterinarian also suspects a food allergy, he or she will most likely recommend an elimination diet. This means avoiding all nutrients that your cat may be allergic to for a period of several weeks. Elimination diets are the most reliable method for identifying allergies. Blood tests and other allergy tests are less reliable for a variety of reasons.
Treatment for cats with food allergies? A special diet
Just as with humans, food allergies can develop at any time throughout a cat’s life. They are sometimes present from birth, and other times only appear after many years. After years of eating the same food, your cat can suddenly develop a reaction to one of its ingredients. Cats with food allergies have one treatment option: diet. The most suitable diet, of course, depends on the ingredient causing the reaction.
My cat has a food allergy: What food is best for her?
Once your veterinarian diagnoses your cat with a food allergy (with the help of an elimination diet), it’s time to look at which pet food is best for your cat. The right food can reduce food intolerance and support the skin’s function, helping to alleviate skin-related symptoms. This food will often contain specific omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and fish oil. Ask your veterinarian about which food is best for your cat.