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After inhalant and flea bite allergies, food allergies count as the third most common form of hypersensitivity in felines and may cause your cat to itch and scratch. Food allergies can affect both males and females, and your cat can show symptoms as early as five months old. The actual allergic process may be difficult to comprehend, but it’s easy to recognize the symptoms, form a diagnosis and treat the problem at hand.

The Most Common Food Allergens
Beef, seafood and dairy can be attributed to most cat allergies today and switching their food to a brand that contains duck and peas or venison and potato may give them some kind of relief. The elimination diet is typically used to rule out one item versus another. Your cat is given a specific food for 12 weeks with no other treats or snacks. If the food doesn’t help your cat’s allergies during this period of time, you need to try another formula. Improvements are typically seen after four to five weeks. Artificial coloring, corn, eggs, preservatives, meat by-products, wheat gluten and soy are other ingredients that you may want to try avoiding.

Symptoms
Cat food allergy symptoms may resemble other allergies, but the primary problem is itchy skin. Miliary dermatitis, hair loss, licking, scratching, vomiting, diarrhea and respiratory problems may be other symptoms. It can be hard to distinguish if your cat’s allergies are from an inhalant, food or flea bite. If a cat experiences problems all year or if the itching starts in the winter, a food allergy is likely the cause.

Diagnosing the Allergy
Food allergies can be similar to other feline problems, and your veterinarian will be able to make the diagnosis for you. They can begin the process by checking for flea bites, intestinal parasites, skin infections and other conditions. Blood and skin tests may also be needed to eliminate inhalant allergies.

Treatment for Your Cat's Allergy
If your cat has been diagnosed with a food allergy, the basic treatment plan is avoidance of the item that is contributing to their allergy. The food elimination trial is the best way to determine what products are causing the problems. Steroids and antihistamines can often help your cat, but you will find that the best long-term solution is to eliminate that specific food from their diet permanently.

Cat owners then have two choices in dealing with the allergy. They can either purchase a commercially prepared hypoallergenic diet or incorporate a home cooked diet into their eating plan. A good hypoallergenic cat food contains basic ingredients like protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and fiber. A home cooked diet is another option, but you need to consult with your vet first and make sure the diet is well-balanced.


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