Cat Food Allergies

Written by Kathleen Gagne
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One of the primary symptoms of cat food allergies is scratching around the face and neck with resultant scabbing. In many cases, the symptom is not noticed because the scratching is not constant, and there is no evidence of scabs, especially in long haired cats. Most cat food allergies are related to over processed foods and to additives such as dyes.

Cat Food Allergy Development

Since many cats are picky eaters, owners may find that changing foods on a regular basis is the only way to get their pets to eat. When a cat then develops an allergic symptom, the owner logically believes that a recent change in diet is the problem. The owner might then revert to a food that the cat had been eating before the reaction with no resultant improvement. This is because it takes some time for a food allergy to develop in cats, and the cat may have been eating a food for years before symptoms show up.

Some reasons to suspect a food allergy include an itch that is not related to a specific season, a lack of positive response to cortisone medications, a lesion pattern common in food allergies, or a skin biopsy that reveals skin changes commonly associated with food allergies. Clearly, if your pet scratches around its neck continuously, the first step is to get your cat to your vet. He or she will be able to determine whether your cat is experiencing a reaction to food or to another irritant.

Treating Cat Food Allergies

Generally, veterinarians who suspect food allergies will suggest a dietary change to a hypoallergenic diet for a specified period of time. If the scratching is dramatically reduced, the vet will have you feed your pet with the same food she had been eating before the itching began. If the scratching resumes within a week or two, the problem is most likely the food. Your vet will then recommend either a continuation of the hypoallergenic diet or another commercial food.

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