Giving your cat a hypoallergenic diet could be the solution to its health problems. We tell you the advantages and possible disadvantages.
Cats can develop allergies to a number of things, including some foods that can cause vomiting or diarrhea.
However, what ingredients each cat is allergic to varies from person to person. A possible solution to end allergies in a cat is to change its diet, if necessary, with the supervision of a veterinarian.
Another possibility is to try a hypoallergenic diet, which is a diet that is unlikely to cause allergic reactions in your kitten.
Hypoallergenic diet in cats: how it should be
To be considered truly hypoallergenic, a diet must consist of cat food that does not contain proteins that can cause an allergic reaction in the feline.
This type of hypoallergenic cat food is also known as a hydrolyzed diet . Hydrolyzed diets contain shorter chain proteins and are therefore less likely to trigger an immune reaction.
What ingredients or foods cause allergies in cats?
Cats are more often allergic to things they are commonly exposed to . Some of the ingredients that can trigger the problem are:
- Dairy products.
There are also no hard data on how common food allergies are in cats, because the underlying cause of an allergic reaction can be difficult to diagnose . It is often more than one cause for each cat.
Food allergies are believed to affect between 1% and 11% of cats with skin problems , according to some research.
Food intolerance in cats: how to detect it early?
Cats with a food allergy can show intestinal symptoms, including diarrhea and vomiting. But that’s not all: cats with allergies can have hair loss and itching and scabs on the skin.
The only way to check if food is the cause of the problem is to exclusively feed a new source of protein and carbohydrates, or a hypoallergenic cat diet, for at least 12 weeks.
If the symptoms go away, it is likely a food allergy.
What proteins are cats most allergic to?
Food allergies in cats are often triggered by beef, chicken, shellfish, eggs, dairy, or gluten.
Food for allergic cats: which is the best?
A hydrolyzed diet for cats is the best option to control the problem. However, this type of food is expensive and often not the tastiest option , which is why many cats refuse to eat it.
The best options for hypoallergenic diets in cats are those that provide a different source of protein and that do not trigger the problem, perhaps duck or deer .
It is a process of trial and error, where you have to do different tests until you find a diet that your cat likes to eat and that does not cause any allergic reaction.
How can I find out what my cat is allergic to?
The only way to check if your cat has a food allergy is to feed him a hydrolyzed diet until the allergy symptoms have completely disappeared .
This experiment with diet is a step that is often not carried out, because when a cat has already become accustomed to a food, no one wants to be giving it other foods to see if the allergy returns.
Allergens that are not ingested, but inhaled such as pollen or dust can be diagnosed with an intradermal test at the vet , if they are causing the cat to itch.
Blood tests can also be used to check antibody levels to certain allergens , but they are not always reliable, as antibody levels can vary.
What symptoms does a cat with allergies have?
Cats with an allergy usually show one or more of the following symptoms:
- Itching and scabs on the skin.
- Excessive grooming.
- Hair loss
At the level of respiration, cats can also present some symptoms, because in some cases, they come to suffer from asthma .
Can a cat be allergic to sand?
A cat can have negative reactions to its litter, although it is not necessarily an allergic reaction.
Some cat litters contain chemicals, bentonite, silica dust, clay, and odors that can irritate the airways or skin.
This type of problem often leads the cat to avoid using its litter box.
If your cat has asthma, dust particles in the litter box can cause breathing difficulties. To avoid the risk of respiratory problems it is a good idea to use sand with a low dust content .
Is clumping litter bad for cats?
Clumping cat litters absorb liquids to form small balls. In theory, if a cat ingests a large amount, it could have intestinal blockages if the sand clumps in its body.
But in reality, most cats ingest a small amount of litter when cleaning their paws and fur, and it is highly unlikely that it will be enough to cause a health problem.
Young kittens may eat a little more out of curiosity, so clumping litter is best avoided until they are a bit larger (and more mature).
Perfumes, anti-odor chemicals, and dust in the clumping litter can cause allergic reactions or irritation.
What is the best litter for cats with allergies?
The best for sensitive cats is a litter with low dust content and a minimum of chemical scents . Sand made from recycled paper or compressed wood is also a good option.