Scratch that itch: The diagnosis, care, and feeding of the food-allergic cat
Diagnosing adverse food reaction in cats is time-consuming, but, once determined, the control of clinical signs can be achieved with dietary management.
While cats suffer similar allergic skin diseases as dogs, the manifestation and management of these conditions do not always mirror that of their canine counterparts. From grooming behaviors to feeding preferences to different nutritional requirements, cats with allergic skin disease can present obstacles not usually encountered in dogs. Additionally, diagnosing and managing food allergies in cats also present unique challenges of their own.
Just as in dogs, cats experience three primary categories of allergic skin disease. These include flea bite hypersensitivity (or flea allergy dermatitis [FAD]), food-induced hypersensitivity dermatitis (i.e. adverse food reaction [AFR]), and non-flea, non-food induced hypersensitivity dermatitis (NFNFIHD).1-4 The latter is similar to atopic dermatitis (AD) in dogs, but since pathogenesis of this disease is not yet clearly understood, including the role of immunoglobulin E (IgE), it has also been referred to as “feline atopy-like syndrome.”2,3,5 Keep in mind these cats can also have concurrent hypersensitivities to food and flea bites. [...]
Emily Cross, DVM, DABVP (canine/feline), is director, professional resources group, for Purina Institute. She is also in clinical practice as an associate veterinarian at Kearny Mesa Veterinary Center in San Diego, Calif.