Hypoallergenic Diet for Cats

A specialty diet for cats can be an excellent way to clear up certain symptoms or health conditions that your pet experiences. While these diets are certainly not necessary or even helpful for most pets, in the right cases a prescription or specially formulated cat food can be effective. Choosing the right diet for your pet is an important process, and it is helpful to work with a veterinarian if you have any concerns or if your cat has any underlying health conditions. Hypoallergenic diets are some of the most common specialty cat foods.

Feline Allergy Basics

Feline allergies are quite common amongst domesticated cats. There are a number of different types of feline allergies, including atopic allergies (those related to particles in the atmosphere) and chemical allergies. Cats may also experience adverse reactions to particular types of food or specific ingredients. In these cases, a hypoallergenic diet can help to reduce your pet's allergic reaction.

Treating Your Pet's Allergy with a Hypoallergenic Diet

If you suspect that your pet suffers from an allergy to an ingredient in his food, take him to a veterinarian along with a complete list of his symptoms and their duration. Your veterinarian will examine your cat for signs of other health problems and will then proceed to identify the offending allergen. This process typically involves a certain amount of experimentation, during which you will feed your pet a variety of diets and observe his reactions. Having isolated the particular ingredient or components of your pet's food that bring about his allergic reaction, you can then investigate which hypoallergenic foods may work best for your cat.

Hypoallergenic Food Ingredients

A generic hypoallergenic cat food contains a limited number of very basic ingredients. Typically, these foods offer a single source of protein from fish, duck or lamb as well a minimal percentage of excess fiber. Most manufacturers avoid putting any preservatives into hypoallergenic foods, so these diets tend to spoil quickly if left out. These diets are helpful if you and your vet are unable to determine exactly which ingredient or food product your pet reacts negatively against.

If your pet has an allergy to a very specific part of his food, there are specialized hypoallergenic foods that eliminate single ingredients. More often than not, these foods will contain a typical assortment of cat food ingredients, leaving a single component of the food out in order to avoid allergic reactions. You may also wish to work with a veterinarian to formulate your own homemade hypoallergenic diet, depending on your cat's case.

When transitioning to a new diet, it is important to do so gradually. Begin by mixing a small portion of the new food in with your pet's existing diet and allow him to grow accustomed to the hypoallergenic food. Gradually increase the portion of your pet's meal that is the new diet as you simultaneously decrease the amount of the previous food. Doing this over a matter of days or even weeks will help your cat's body to adjust to the new food and will give your pet time to acquire the taste for his new diet.