What are the general signs that my cat has a food allergy?

Generally, food allergy symptoms occur most often when the cat is between two and six years old. But it’s important to realize that they can crop up at any time during a cat’s life, because a cat can develop an allergy to something she’s been eating for years.

Food allergy symptoms in a cat may include skin irritation, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms are similar to other allergies, such as flea bites.

Because the food allergy symptoms are so similar to those of other feline ailments, only your veterinarian can make an accurate diagnosis. Don’t try to figure this out on your own.

First, the veterinarian will check for signs of flea bites, skin diseases, gastrointestinal infections and intestinal parasites to eliminate other possible causes. Blood and intradermal skin tests may be necessary to rule out other types of allergies.
Then, if the examination indicates food allergies, the veterinarian will probably want further confirmation and the cat will be put on a special hypoallergenic diet in a food trial test. Your cat will remain exclusively on these rations and water for eight to twelve weeks. If the symptoms disappear, the diagnosis is confirmed.
At that point, the veterinarian might want to conduct an elimination diet and challenge to rule out the offending ingredient. She’ll be taken off all the foods she’s been eating and put on a food that she’s never had before. Once the cat has improved, the old foods will start to be reintroduced and, if she has a reaction, which usually takes a few days to a few weeks, then you’ll know what the allergen is.

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