Feline allergies are widespread, and odds are good that pet owners will encounter cats with allergic reactions at some point in their lives. For cats suffering from food allergies, a special allergy cat food can help to control symptoms and allow your pet to live a healthy and otherwise normal existence. To determine whether an allergy cat food is right for your pet, follow these instructions for identifying, diagnosing and treating feline allergies.
Signs of a Feline Allergy
Feline allergies are typically divided into three categories: atopic (airborne), parasitic and food-related. There is some overlap of symptoms, and so a diagnostic allergy test is necessary to determine the specific allergens that affect your cat. Feline allergies generally bring about the following symptoms:
- Irritated, red skin, sometimes opening into sores
- Loss of appetite
If your cat displays any of these symptoms, have him examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. To diagnose a feline allergy, your vet will conduct a physical exam and a series of allergen tests. The goal of these tests is to isolate common allergens and gauge your pet's reaction to each.
Identifying and Treating a Food Allergy
Over time, your cat may develop an allergy to a particular food. In most cases, the allergen itself is a specific ingredient in the food. Due to the similar content and ingredient list of most cat foods, your veterinarian will help to determine the substances that your cat reacts negatively to with a series of elimination diets.
During these trial periods, the veterinarian will prescribe allergy cat foods containing different mixtures of ingredients. He will subsequently monitor your pet for negative reactions or changes to his symptoms. Through a process of trial and error, it is possible to isolate and identify the specific ingredients that illicit an allergic reaction in your pet.
Selecting an Allergy Cat Food
Once you have identified the foods against which your pet reacts, your vet will work with you to construct a permanent diet for your cat that avoids the offending ingredients as much as possible. Some of the most common allergy cat foods include the following brands:
- Natural Balance
Each allergy cat food is created differently, and they are not interchangeable. When shopping for food for a food-sensitive or -allergic cat, pay careful attention to the ingredients list and do not stray from your veterinarian's recommendations. Typically, allergy-friendly foods will be labeled as "limited ingredient" diets.
It is not possible to permanently cure your pet's allergies, whether caused by food or some other allergen. For the duration of his life, he will display signs of allergic reaction when exposed to the offending allergen. However, with the watchful eye of a vet and a carefully monitored diet, your pet can live a healthy and allergy-free life.