What are feline food allergies?

Feline food allergies are a reaction to something in your cat's diet. This actually can happen pretty suddenly and with foods the cat has always eaten with no problems. When people have food allergies, it is often something they have from birth. With cats, a food allergy is usually developed over time. It happens with many common foods, such as chicken and beef. For cats, a food allergy can cause skin conditions and itching, respiratory and breathing problems, and common digestive issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.

   

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How do I know if my cat has one?

When a vet suspects a food allergy is causing a cat's symptoms, usually instead of a lab test they will put the cat on a hypoallergenic diet. "Hypoallergenic" just means that it has less allergens than a normal diet. You put your cat on a diet of hypoallergenic cat food for two to three months, which is the maximum time it takes for the cat's system to completely clear out any allergens and stop showing symptoms. Often it only takes a month. Usually what a vet will do is just recommend a diet based on a kind of meat that your cat does not currently eat. This will depend on your country, but for the United States most pet food companies do not use duck or venison in standard cat foods, which makes them a good choice.

The reasoning behind this is that because your cat has not been exposed to those meats, it cannot have developed an allergy to them. So if the reactions go away after switching diets, then one of the other meats in the old cat food was the cause.

What if a hypoallergenic diet doesn't work for my cat?

That likely means that there is some other source for your cat's allergies, such as fleas, airborne substances, or chemicals in the house.

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