Cat Food Allergy Treatment

Cat food allergy treatments usually involve the use of an exclusion diet to determine the cause of the allergy, coupled with the short-term use of medications to relieve itching and other symptoms. Once the allergy is diagnosed, this course of treatment is followed by a permanent change in your cat’s diet to eliminate the ingredient or ingredients that cause your cat to have an allergic reaction.

How a Food Allergy Develops

Although your cat’s food allergy may seem to develop suddenly, it is actually the reaction of her immune system to the accumulation of certain ingredients over time. When her body has absorbed too much of a particular ingredient, your cat’s immune system perceives it as a threat and begins producing a chemical called histamine to fight it.

The overabundance of histamine in your cat’s body is what causes her skin to redden, hives to form and tissues to swell when she has an allergic reaction. In extreme instances, the histamine can cause tissues in her throat to swell to such an extent that her airway begins to close and breathing becomes difficult.

How a Food Allergy Is Diagnosed

The diagnosis for food allergy often becomes the treatment. It involves feeding an exclusion diet that features unique sources of protein and carbohydrate that your cat has never eaten, or it involves your cat consuming a special hydrolyzed protein diet that contains extremely small molecules of protein and carbohydrate that have been specially treated so that they cannot cause an allergic reaction.

After about a 12-week period of feeding only the exclusion diet and water, your veterinarian will begin reintroducing ingredients from your cat’s former diet to achieve an allergic reaction. Once your cat reacts to one or more ingredients, the diagnosis of food allergy is confirmed.

Treatment for a Feline Food Allergy

Avoidance is the best defense against a food allergy, so once you know what causes your cat’s allergies, you’ll need to ensure she doesn’t eat it any more. Once your veterinarian determines the cause of your cat’s food allergy, you will have the option of feeding the exclusion diet as your cat’s new regular diet, and you will need to monitor closely everything that she eats.

Other short-term treatments for feline food allergies include antihistamines and steroids to reduce swelling and inflammation, and fatty acid supplements to rebuild your cat’s damaged skin. None of these treatments is a permanent solution to your cat’s food allergy, but each can help provide short-term relief to her symptoms while the root cause is being determined.

In about 80 percent of feline food allergy cases, a commercially prepared diet can be fed successfully to the cat. The owners of the remaining 20 percent of food-allergic cats will have to create homemade diets that will eliminate potential allergens while still providing adequate nutrition for their pets. Consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist when creating a homemade diet for your cat to ensure that she has a completed and balanced diet when you’re through.