Common symptoms associated with food allergies in cats
As a pet owner, you always want to do the best that you can when attempting to provide proper nutrition for your cat. Unfortunately, many owners fail to take into consideration that cats are individuals just like humans are. This means that while a food may be perfectly acceptable for some cats, it could actually be a poor choice for others. To make matters worse your cat can't tell you what's wrong with his food. It's up to you to learn to identify symptoms which could signify a problem. In this article, we'll go over some common symptoms that often occur in cats suffering from a food allergy and some ways to weed out which ingredient is the culprit.
Food allergies can manifest themselves in several different ways, and these symptoms are of course not exclusive to food allergies. However, a change in diet is often the first recommended course of action when these problems pop up. Here are a few things to look out for.
• Skin irritations or redness
• Poor appetite
If your cat is exhibiting any of these symptoms then their food may be to blame. Keep in mind that this does not necessarily mean that the brand of food you are feeding them is bad. Animals can be sensitive to a variety of different ingredients, and the most trying part of your job will be attempting to find the culprit in the rather large list of products that are on the back of the cat food bag. This can be very tiring, but there are a few things you can try to speed up the process.
Try a limited ingredient cat food brand
There are now many cat foods on the market which come in limited ingredient recipes. This simply means that the manufacturer limits the number of items included when manufacturing the foods. These are often great choices for cats with allergies because there are less items for them to be allergic to, but it also makes it easier for you to pinpoint exactly what food item is bothering them. Products like these will make your job much easier, and they are often made with better quality ingredients.
Try using a food with a single protein source
In many cases, animals can actually be sensitive to the fact that there are too many different proteins in their food. If your cat has issues with loose stools or vomiting this could very well be the case. By switching to a food which offers only one protein source instead of multiple ones you will likely help your cat with any digestive symptoms he may be experiencing, and you will also have an easier time identifying ingredients they are sensitive to. Opt for a high-quality meat-based protein source like Salmon or turkey whenever possible as these are often easier on your cat's digestive tract.
Some experts recommend a ‘novel’ protein. This is just a meat source that’s not commonly used in commercial cat foods such as rabbit or guinea fowl. Unfortunately, you may find that it can be a challenge to get your cat to eat this new meat that they are unfamiliar with. This could leave you with a large supply of expensive food that your finicky friend may refuse to touch. For this reason it’s best to tread lightly when experimenting with unfamiliar ingredients.
Try a grain free variant
Some cats have a difficult time processing grains. Cats are obligate carnivores, and the majority of their diet should be comprised of meat products. If the first ingredient on the food you are feeding them is corn or wheat based, then it may be a good idea to try a product that focuses on a healthy meat-based protein such as salmon or turkey instead. The majority of cat foods at big box stores will feature corn as the first ingredient. If you suspect that your feline friend may be having issues with this item then you'll likely need to seek higher-quality options.
Manufacturers are required to list ingredients in order of prevalence on the label. That means foods which feature corn in the first spot are composed predominantly of grains and not meats. Corn is a cheap product that is used to add empty calories without adding much nutritional value for your pet.
Don’t change brands frequently
Do you simply buy whatever food is on sale for the week? Sometimes sudden diet changes can cause cats to have digestion issues. If you are guilty of this then make sure that you continue to feed your cat the same brand and flavor, or if you are planning to switch to a higher-quality brand then make sure to stick with it. It can take up to two weeks for your cat to adjust to a new food. Flip flopping too much on your decisions will likely do more harm than good.
While it can be tempting to save a bit of money by swapping pet food brands each month, it’s not worth it in the long run for your cat’s health. If you’d like to save a few dollars though, a better option is to purchase your cat’s food from an online retailer. Prices for pet food is often much cheaper online than at local pet stores, and many of these suppliers will also offer a discount of 5-10% perpetually if you sign up for their auto-ship program. This will likely save you just as much as you would with coupons in the long run, and your cat’s food will show up at your door on the interval that you select, saving you a trip to the store
In closing, try to always remember that there's not a one size fits all solution to food sensitivities. It may take you a while to determine the problem and find an adequate solution, but in many cases, diet changes can be the easiest way to improve your cat's health.