Food allergies in cats occur when the immune system overreacts to a certain food. In many cases, these allergic reactions appear as visible skin irritations.
Food allergies can also cause gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting or diarrhea. If you see signs that your cat has a food allergy, then you have to see a vet for a correct diagnosis and treatment.
Here’s what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of food allergies in cats.
Symptoms of food allergies in cats
Food allergy symptoms in cats can vary in severity. Sometimes cats react to food that they have eaten in small quantities only once. At other times, cats have persistent problems when constantly exposed to something in their normal diet.
The main symptoms of a cat food allergy are as follows:
- Skin irritation or lumps
- Weight loss or hair loss
- Coat looks dull
- Ear infection
- Less appetite
If you experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis, chances are your cat has a food allergy.
Causes of Food Allergies in Cats
Veterinarians don’t know exactly why cats develop allergies to certain foods.
In many cases, allergic reactions to food are caused by a specific protein. This includes meat sources like beef or lamb. Meat should make up a large proportion of a cat’s diet.
Corn has also been shown to cause food allergies in certain cats. Other foods can cause reactions as well, and common culprits are soy, rice, gluten, potatoes, and dairy products.
In addition to being allergic to a specific food, cats can also develop allergies due to the presence of artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives found in some commercially produced pet foods.
Treatments for food allergies in cats
If your vet suspects your cat has a food allergy, the vet will perform a physical exam and ask detailed questions about your pet’s diet. If your cat’s reaction to a food allergy seems to be coming and going, showing your vet photos of skin irritation or other reactions may be helpful.
Food allergies in cats are usually treated by changing the cat’s diet. Veterinarians do this through an elimination process where they recommend slowly removing certain specific ingredients from the diet to see if symptoms improve.
This can be a long process, so patience is key. Avoid the temptation to simply switch entirely to another store-bought brand of cat food without your vet’s advice.
If your cat has a severe food allergy, your veterinarian may prescribe temporary antihistamine treatment for immediate relief.
Does your cat have a food allergy? How did your vet help you remove certain foods from your cat’s diet? Let us know in the comments section below!