Food allergies interest and concern me. I wonder whether they are more common than people think. A cat living in Britain, Munchkin, not a dwarf cat of the same name but a long-haired grey-and-white moggy is allergic to fish, milk, chicken and tinned cat food. She is allergic to foods that cats like. The reaction is so severe that her owners, Mr and Mrs Bean thought she was suffering from a head injury when she went into spasms.
“We thought that she was having a stroke at first before anybody managed to work out what was going on. We were very worried.”
Over a period of 10 months they travelled back and forth to their veterinarian for an endless series of tests during which Munchkin’s condition worsened as she went into regular spasms. In addition she was grooming herself all the time. This was to alleviate itching, it seems.
Eventually, the veterinarian realised that the convulsing Munchkin was allergic to almost everything that she ate. At first the veterinarian gave her steroid injections which brought her fits under control. She still has monthly steroid injections but the vet found a food that she can accept and it is Hills Prescription Diet z/d. This is described as “Low Allergen… Feline Allergy Management”. It is a version of hypoallergenic cat food. It is a dry cat food.
Her extreme allergy to regular cat food is under control. She is injected regularly with steroids. If the injections stop she starts over-grooming again.
I have not heard of a cat going into fits, spasms or convulsions because of an allergy to food. Normally an intensely itchy rash develops on the head, neck and back which may be accompanied by swollen eyelids. There may be hair loss and oozing sores because of constant scratching. Sometimes only the ears are involved. The ears will become red and inflamed with perhaps a moist discharge. There maybe diarrhoea and vomiting. But convulsions, these are not listed as conventional symptoms of a food allergy.
The conventional way to find out what’s happening is by feeding the cat a diet without the suspected food for a month or more and then exposing the cat to the cat food that is suspected of causing the reaction and seeing what happens. You can then, hopefully, isolate the cause of the allergy.
Food hypersensitivity can be initially detected if your cat vomits about two hours after eating. The most common food allergens are chicken, fish, wheat, corn, and soy. In addition cats may be allergic to eggs, dairy products, pork and beef. Also, wheat and corn grains are a common cause of food allergy in cats. Munchkin’s food allergies, although abnormally extensive, are not irregular.
The classic treatment is to put the cat on a commercial diet made without grains. Munchkin’s treatment is standard. Special diets with limited protein sources or treated proteins can be prescribed by the veterinarian. There are other prescription diets to the one mentioned above such as Royal Canin hypoallergenic HP Feline and Royal Canin Neutral Formula Feline. We know that there are a number of others and as far as I am aware they are all dry cat foods.
Dry cat foods are controversial to concerned cat owners and some might argue that even hypoallergenic dry cat foods have certain qualities which are not good for cats but that is a different subject. At least Munchkin can eat without a bad reaction.
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