What is a novel food diet for cats?

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Some of the most common allergens in cats are beef, lamb, seafood, corn, soy, dairy products and wheat gluten.
Cats can develop allergies to any ingredient in their food. The most commonly diagnosed involve corn, soy, rice, beef, milk products such as whey and cheese, egg, fish, lamb, and chicken. Protein sources in the food are frequently the cause of a feline food allergy although carbohydrate sources can also be responsible.
When a food allergy is suspected, the veterinarian will often put your cat on a novel diet, consisting of both a protein and a carbohydrate source or just a protein source. Review your cat’s diet history and choose a single protein source that your cat has never eaten before. Some examples might be rabbit, kangaroo and venison as a protein source; if you add carbohydrates, it must be something she’s never had before, like potatoes or lentils. Absolutely no treats are allowed and she shouldn’t be allowed to roam or get into the trash.
Novel diets are available in three ways:
• Commercially prepared novel protein diets: Available and with rabbit, kangaroo, alligator, ostrich or venison as the protein source. Carbohydrate sources include peas, lentils or potatoes.
• Home-cooked meal: Most often used, since ingredients can be carefully monitored; however, if it’s to be fed long term, consultation with a veterinary nutrition expert is important to make sure that the diet is nutritionally balanced and will satisfy all of your cat’s nutritional needs.
• Hydrolyzed diet: In this type of diet, proteins are broken down to individual amino acids (the foundations of proteins.) The idea is that the components are mall enough to avoid detection by the cat’s immune system and less likely to elicit an immune response as a result. Commercial brands are available. If you are going to feed a hydrolyzed diet, it is still best to avoid sources of protein that your cat has eaten previously, because she might still have a reaction.

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