If you see your cat itching and scratching, food allergies are the most probable cause. Cats develop allergic reactions to environmental substances and foods that are normally not harmful to humans, dogs, and other animals. Flea bites and inhalant allergies are the most common types of allergies affecting cats which account for approximately 60 percent of reactions in cats. Food allergies do not develop overnight, but the majority of cases occur in cats between the ages of two and six years.
What Causes Cat Food Allergies?
The real reason why a particular agent in the body triggers antibodies in cats is still baffling. However, research shows that a cat’s immune system may mistake a protein in food as a threat and this triggers an attack. That’s why understanding the symptoms, how to diagnose and treat cats with allergic reactions will keep your pet safe.
Food Allergies or Intolerance?
It’s important to note that there’s a distinction between a food allergy and food intolerance. Food allergies are characterized by sneezing, itching, and scratching. On the other hand, food intolerance causes diarrhea and vomiting. Luckily, both food allergies and intolerance can be treated and avoided by eliminating the diets with the agents causing these reactions. The following are symptoms of cat food allergies:
- Coughing and wheezing
- Chewing of the paws
- Brittle and coarse fur
- Ear problems
1. Meat Byproducts
The parts of animals that humans don’t eat like fats, tissues, and organs including skin and hooves are meat byproducts used to create cheaper pet food filler. They are usually low quality with little nutritional value. Meat byproducts contain proteins that may cause sensitivity in cats.
2. Dairy Products
Lactose, the natural sugar in milk, doesn’t do well with cats. This causes lactose intolerance since cats don’t have enough enzymes to digest the lactose in milk products such as cheese or milk powder. Most cat food manufacturers add these milk products, so be sure to check the food label for dairy products.
3. Seafood, Beef, Lamb, and Liver
Cats are known to develop allergies to commercial cat foods that contain seafood such as fish. Fish proteins come third after beef and dairy products in foods that cause allergic reactions in cats. One study found that out of the 54 cats with identifiable food allergies, 23 percent (13 cats) had fish allergies. Logically, this makes sense because neither beef, lamb or fish is part of the natural diet for cats. While cats may find canned tuna to be delicious and addictive, too much can have adverse effects on your cat’s health. On the other hand, liver, if eaten in small amounts, can’t cause serious problems on your cat’s well-being. However, if your cat eats too much liver, vitamin A toxicity can occur. This could lead to serious conditions such as osteoporosis, bone deformation, and growth of extra bones on the spine and elbows. In some cases, it could cause death.
4. Wheat Gluten
Wheat gluten is also used as a cheap cat food filler. Felines are extremely sensitive to wheat gluten, which is the protein found in certain types of grain including wheat, rye, and barley. Just like lions, cats are carnivores and are not designed to eat the starchy, sticky byproducts of grains. Some cats can eat wheat gluten without issues but many will react by vomiting due to intolerance to the gluten by their digestive system.
Cornmeal is another low-priced filler in cat foods known to cause allergic reactions. Most cats are allergic to all types of corn with the most common signs including itchiness and dry skin. Corn products are also believed to be the cause of diabetes in cats. As a precaution, it’s recommended that you keep all cornmeal out of your cat’s way.
Raw eggs can lead to food poisoning in cats from the salmonella or E. coli bacteria. Additionally, the protein in egg whites can inhibit the absorption of the B vitamin biotin. The telltale signs include brittle fur and skin issues.
Cat Allergy Treatments
All in all, prevention is your best option when it comes to cat allergy treatment. By identifying the allergens that could affect your pet, you can remove them and keep your cat safe. Your vet can specify a diet that your cat will need after suffering from an allergic reaction.
Regardless of how careful you are on what your cat eats, it’s not always possible to protect him from ingesting something harmful. As a preventative measure, always keep the number of your vets close by. Likewise, you need to have the hotline number of the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC)– (888) 426 -4435 for guidance if you think your cat has consumed a toxic substance.