You are playing with your kitty one day and you notice that, every so often, she begins scratching for seemingly no reason. Upon closer inspection, small patches of hair are coming out, and you may find little bald spots around the eyes, ears or the head. Of course, as any good owner might think, your four legged purr face might have fleas, but upon closer inspection, there is no trace of fleas at all.
Oh my, what could the problem be? You may actually start to see dandruff, and now you are really curious about what is going on with fur face. After doing some research, you are pretty sure that kitty is having an allergic reaction to something, but you don’t know what. After all, virtually every type of allergic reaction found in cats have the same symptoms: Itchy skin, scratching, dandruff and hair loss. But what type of allergy could it be?
What has Kitty Gotten Into?
The first thing to do is to try and ascertain what kitty has gotten into, and determine if that has caused any allergic reaction. If you have a cat who likes to spend time outside, it will be a bit more difficult to narrow this down, but if you have an inside cat, you can become a feline detective, put on your sleuth cap, and attempt to find a culprit.
As a cat owner, you know where your kitty cat can go and where it can’t. You’ll have made sure there is nothing toxic laying about, that cabinets shut tightly and there are no chemical cleaners left laying about. Once you determine that your cat hasn’t gotten into anything like that, it’s time to check out the plants you have growing.
Most plants are cat harmless, but there are a few that can cause problems. As a responsible cat owner, you should always do your homework and make sure that you do not have a toxic plant growing where kitty can get at it. But to be on the safe side, check out the leaves on your plants and make sure they aren’t nibbled on. Because if they are, you feline friend may be having a reaction to the juices or oils from that plant.
However, if you either have no plants available for chewing, or none of your plants have teeth marks, something else might be going on, and that something might be a food allergy.
Is It a Food Allergy?
You may not know this but 57% of all scratching and allergic reactions are caused by food allergies. Most food allergies are caused by common ingredients in cat food like beef, corn, soy and wheat gluten. These ingredients like corn and wheat are not even a part of proper feline nutrition so you should avoid them anyway. Prime time for food allergies are between 2 years old and 6 years old, but kittens as old as 2 months old and adults over 12 years old can also become allergic to food. If your cat is within the prime time age or you are feeding her any of those common foods, it may be a food allergy.
How to Tell
If you kitty develops allergic reactions during winter, chances are it’s a food allergy. If itchy skin and dandruff don’t respond to steroid treatments, or if your kitty always exhibits some form of allergic reaction all year, the best guess is that it’s a food allergy.
The best way to find out whether or not your cat has a food allergy is to change the food she eats. If grains have always been present in her diet, switch to a grain-free food. if common proteins and vegetables have always been diet staples, change to uncommon proteins like venison and potatoes or duck and potatoes. You can even get a specialized food called an anti-antigen diet, which will not trigger an allergic reaction. Keep your kitty on this diet for a full 12 weeks, do not give any treats, snacks or goodies, and watch for results. If the scratching and dandruff subsides, your cat had a food allergy, and you’ll have to change their diet accordingly by going grain free, or feeding other forms of proteins instead of the ones you had been using.
Mary Nielsen founded FelineLiving.net and is a passionate cat lover, blogger, and part-time music teacher. She founded her blog to share her ups and downs of being a pet parent to a bunch of adorable kittens and cats. When she is not playing with them or teaching, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen.