Like their owners, cats can sometimes struggle with one or more food allergies. These allergies are caused by a reaction from the cat’s immune system to a food component. Allergies can lead to various unpleasant symptoms for your furry friend, so owners need to recognize the most common food allergies in cats.
Signs and Symptoms of Food Allergies in Cats
Food allergies are the third most common type of feline allergy, with only flea bites and inhalants being more common. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to cat food can vary among cats; however, there are a few symptoms to be aware of:
The most common symptom of an allergic reaction is red, irritated skin, usually accompanied by itching. The irritation primarily affects the cat’s head and neck, but it can also occur elsewhere on the body. This symptom can lead to hair loss, skin lesions, and infections if left untreated.
While itching is the most common symptom of food allergies in cats, gastrointestinal issues are also common. This can manifest as vomiting, diarrhea, or a general lack of appetite and weight loss.
If your cat continuously sneezes, coughs, or wheezes, it may be exposed to an allergen. Allergens like pollen, mold, dust mites, and even household cleaning products can irritate your cat’s upper airway and lungs.
Feline chin acne
If your cat has solid or pus-filled bumps around their chin or neck, they may have feline chin acne. This is typically caused by an allergic reaction to plastic feeding bowls.
What Causes Food Allergies in Cats?
Feline food allergies are caused by an adverse reaction by the cat’s immune system to proteins in their food. When an allergen is consumed, your cat can develop small, fluid-filled lumps on their skin. These bumps are irritating to the cat, and itching as a result of the irritation can cause these lumps to burst.
While a cat’s immune system causes allergic reactions, it is unknown why cats develop food allergies in the first place. Genetic predisposition plays a role in determining the likelihood of a cat developing food allergies, which can develop any time after three months of age.
Foods Most Commonly Associated with Allergies
The proteins that cause food allergies in cats can be found in various sources, particularly beef, dairy, fish, chicken and eggs. While these are the most common sources of feline food allergies, other meats, vegetables, and grains can lead to an allergic reaction.
Caring for Cats with Food Allergies
If you believe your cat has food allergies, it is essential to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Once there, the vet will perform an intradermal (skin) or blood test and do a manual exam to rule out other sources of irritation, such as flea bites. The results of the tests can help determine if your cat may be suffering from food allergies.
Your vet will place your cat on an elimination (novel) diet. This involves feeding the cat only foods it had not previously been exposed to. This diet must be adhered to for eight to ten weeks. If symptoms improve, your cat is likely suffering from food allergies.
If this is the case, you will be instructed to begin reintroducing familiar foods to your cat’s diet one at a time, monitoring for symptoms. Through this process, you and your vet can eventually determine which foods were causing the allergic reaction in your cat.
Support Your Pet’s Health With Open Farm
At Open Farm, we can help you support your pet’s health and reduce the risk of allergies with our range of high-quality cat food. We offer grain-free wet cat food to reduce digestive issues, and all our foods are 100% antibiotic-free.