What’s the Best Hypoallergenic Cat Food for my Furry Friend?
Food allergies are not as common for cats as they are for dogs, but they still exist. If you have a cat with allergies of some kind, you have to worry about buying the right hypoallergenic cat food.
However, don’t jump the gun just yet. Changing your kitty’s diet can be a long and arduous process. See if you’re ready for the trial-and-error eating first; determine whether or not your feline needs hypoallergenic cat food.
There are precursory signs to look for when suspecting an allergy
Don’t assume that allergies will look the same in cats as they do in us. You’ll have to closely monitor your cat. Some things that may seem like normal health variance might be allergies.
The biggest thing to look for in cat allergies is their skin and fur. Their skin might scale, they might lose hair, and they might itch a lot. Their skin might even smell.
As you can see, those kinds of symptoms are like a chain reaction. Your cat’s allergy may cause him to over-itch, which will make him lose hair. This is a lot different than just seeing your cat shed in an area or two. Be on the lookout!
Diarrhea and vomiting due to a food allergy still happens, just not as much as in humans. Try not to overreact if your cat is vomiting randomly. It’s just a thing that cats do, and isn’t always caused by lack of hypoallergenic cat food.
If you must attempt short-term relief…
It’s best to figure out what is wrong with your cat’s diet as soon as possible. If you can’t, and your cat needs relief right away, there are a few options.
You can give your cat fatty acids and antihistamines to curb itching and skin problems. There are also steroids available to help with inflammation.
The only way to completely cure your cat is to avoid the ingredients. Short-term medication can only help your cat in the interim of diet fixes. If your cat is having physical problems due to diet, you need to get them on hypoallergenic cat food.
While your cat is on antihistamines or other medications, it’s time to figure out what in his diet is causing the problems.
Eliminating the things your cat might be allergic to
In cats, it is easy to narrow down what ingredient in food they might be allergic to. It’s most often beef, dairy, and fish; after that, the most common offenders are lamb, poultry, and barley/wheat.
Once you know what your cat can be allergic to, you can start eliminating certain ingredients. If you give your cat any table scraps, stop immediately. Otherwise, you can try feeding your kitty a food that is missing a “problem” ingredient.
There are also blood tests to determine your cats allergy, but they can be untrustworthy. You can’t rely on these sorts of things to figure out what’s wrong with your cat. Besides, you’ll need to get him on hypoallergenic cat food no matter what.
In any case, work with your veterinarian. Together, you can help you figure out a plan to work out your cat’s allergy. It’s a bit of a process, but well worth it.
They might help you get your cat onto a diet using protein he’s never eaten before. Your vet can also help you get access to prescription cat food. Likely, you and your cat will work through an elimination diet.
What is an elimination diet?
Essentially, an elimination diet consists of forcing your cat to a very basic diet. This will usually be one single protein and one single carbohydrate.
Once your cat has recovered from allergy symptoms, you can reintroduce certain ingredients one by one. You can start to add a single protein, then a single carbohydrate. You can then try wheat and dairy.
While adding ingredients, closely monitor your cat. If any food item reintroduction makes the symptoms flare back up, you’ve found your culprit. After that, you can just avoid that ingredient and feed your cat whatever else you can.
From that point onward, any food without the “problem” ingredient is hypoallergenic cat food. The term is individual to each cat; the food hypoallergenic for Scruffy won’t be hypoallergenic for Oscar.
What should I avoid when doing an elimination diet?
Think about what your cat puts in his or her mouth other than food. Does your cat chew rawhide? Does your cat have any kind of flavored toy? Do you feed him anything extra, like catnip or treats?
If so, it is absolutely imperative you curb this behavior when determining allergies. You have to be doing a clinical trial at home, in so few words. It’s important to eliminate all variables.
If you have an outdoor cat, you should severely limit outdoor activity. If your cat is exhibiting allergy symptoms, it might be due to food that isn’t eaten at home. Keeping your cat indoors means he won’t have access to garbage or bugs and rodents.
Should I bother with a homemade diet?
There are a lot of differing opinions on homemade food for cats. I’ll preface this by saying that it is important to get veterinary input. You need to have consultation from a professional before you attempt this.
That being said, feeding your cat homemade food during allergy trials can significantly help your feline friend. You can control what goes into the food without having to worry about a label. Instead of worrying about nasty rotted food being the culprit, you can make everything fresh.
Hypoallergenic cat food needs to be precise, though. Remember the “one carb and one protein” thing I mentioned earlier? You have to make sure the macronutrient ratios are accurate to what he should be eating. If not…
Well, homemade food can cause more trouble than it’s worth. In fact, homemade food can cause more trouble than normal canned or bagged food would. In the time it takes to prep tons of meals for your kitty, you could have just been keeping tabs on his allergies!
It’s important to keep a small journal no matter what. You can track the symptoms of your cat and note when he starts feeling better. If you don’t keep record, you might not know what causes the bounce back to health.