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What is Fancy Feast Allergy?

A sensitivity to a particular food item can occur at any age, and often develops for a food that your cat has been eating for a long time. It may be difficult to know exactly which part of your cat’s diet may be causing problems in her immune system, as canned pet foods such as Fancy Feast also contain many artificial flavorings, colors, emulsifiers, and preservatives that can trigger an allergic response. Popular proteins, such as chicken and seafood, are also common allergens seen in cats.

Many cat owners are delighted with the cost and availability of Fancy Feast foods. But while their cats seem to enjoy the taste, they may also be developing an allergy to one or more ingredients in the food. Cats can become allergic to meat proteins, corn, grain, or soy, or even to the artificial dyes and preservatives that are often used in many popular pet foods. The resultant digestive and skin complaints can be a signal that your kitty has become sensitive to something in her diet.

Symptoms of Fancy Feast Allergy in Cats

The digestive, respiratory and skin problems that can occur due to a food allergy can take a long time to appear. Often, these symptoms gradually emerge over many months or years, and can be mistaken for something else. Digestive complaints can cause your cat to avoid her food, and can result in dramatic weight loss, while the constant scratching of inflamed skin can predispose her to bacterial infections. Symptoms of a food allergy include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loose stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive grooming
  • Excessive scratching
  • Rubbing face on objects
  • Itchy, reddened and inflamed skin
  • Skin lesions, scabs and rashes
  • Hair loss
  • Leathery patches of skin 
  • Lip ulcers
  • Bacterial skin infections
  • Miliary dermatitis, or little bumps and scabs commonly seen on the neck or rear areas
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Ear infections 
  • Coughing
  • Cracked paw pads 
  • Scooting rear end on floor or carpets
  • Seizures
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Causes of Fancy Feast Allergy in Cats

When the immune system develops a sensitivity to a certain food, a food allergy can occur. This commonly happens with a food that has been fed day after day for years. After your cat has eaten that food repeatedly, the immune system responds by producing a larger than normal amount of antibodies to remove the foreign invaders. As the antibodies attack, histamine is released, the chemical responsible for producing the symptoms of an allergic reaction. 

When your cat’s ancestors were wild, their diet consisted mainly of animal proteins. The only vegetable matter wild cats ate would have been found in small amounts in the prey animals’ gastrointestinal tract. There certainly weren’t any artificial colors, dyes, or preservatives in the diet.  

Today, commercial pet foods are filled with things that cats are not biologically programmed to process. This can cause those inappropriate food items to sit in your cat’s digestive system without getting processed, and this can trigger the immune response to attack. Vomiting up food and the appearance of bumps on the skin are the body’s way of trying to eliminate the allergens.

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Diagnosis of Fancy Feast Allergy in Cats

A food allergy can be difficult to narrow down, especially if your cat has been eating a commercial canned food like Fancy Feast. Determining the ingredients in your cat’s diet will give you an idea of what your cat has been exposed to. The most promising diagnostic method is to change your cat’s diet.

There are many types of specialized diets on the market, including nontraditional protein sources, such as rabbit, duck, or venison, diets that eliminate fillers, such as grains, corn, and soy, or hydrolyzed diets which break down proteins into small particles that make it difficult for the immune system to recognize. Your veterinarian will likely recommend a diet that contains none of the ingredients of the previous diet, and may even suggest a raw or homemade one. Generally, the new diet needs to be given for up to 8 to 12 weeks, after which time the old food may be reintroduced to assess your cat’s response. The findings of these diet changes can lead to a diagnosis of an allergy to a particular food item, whether it be a meat protein such as chicken or fish, a carbohydrate, or even the preservatives, dyes and flavors that may have been in the old diet.

There are other methods that can help lead your veterinarian to a diagnosis, but they are often not as accurate as a food elimination diet. These include allergy tests using blood samples or a skin test. A blood test can measure the antibodies in the blood and can sometimes reveal the presence of a specific allergen. The skin test injects various allergens into the skin to see if a reaction occurs. Your veterinarian may also take a biopsy of the skin or intestinal tissue for testing to confirm the presence of an allergy.

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Treatment of Fancy Feast Allergy in Cats

Treatment of an allergy to the ingredients in Fancy Feast cat food is to eliminate Fancy Feast from your cat’s diet. However, it is unlikely that your cat is allergic to only this type of canned food. Using the diagnostic elimination diet can help to narrow down just what your cat is allergic to so that you can eliminate all sources of that allergen from your cat’s food. 

Feeding a specialized diet for at least 2 to 3 months can help to clear out any allergic substances from the previous diet, and allow the immune system to relax. After the period of the food trial ends, slowly reintroduce one food at a time that may have been the cause of the allergy to assess your cat’s reaction. An allergic response usually appears within a week or two. 

If you find that your cat is allergic to a meat protein, then there is a chance it could develop a sensitivity to another meat protein that has been substituted. Because of this risk, you may want to rotate foods. Feeding clean proteins may also be an option, such as hormone-free, or grass fed animals. 

Other treatments are symptomatic, and include antibiotics for infections, anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids to treat inflammation, soothing medicated baths for itchy skin, and a safe ear cleaner for ear infections.

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Recovery of Fancy Feast Allergy in Cats

There is no cure for food allergies, and if your cat suffers from one, it will need lifelong management. Thankfully, once the allergen has been identified, simply keeping it out of the diet will ensure the absence of an allergic response to that food. After the offending food has been eliminated from your cat’s diet for 8 to 10 weeks, you should see symptoms subside. If, however, your cat is fed the food again, symptoms may reappear.

There is no way to know when a sensitivity to a particular food may develop, but experts suggest providing a variety of foods for your cat. Rotating foods that are balanced and appropriate for your cat’s needs can reduce the risk of a food allergy developing.

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Fancy Feast Allergy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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British shorthair

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My cat is vomiting right after eating her wet food. It's a Salmon and shrimp feast flavored classic pate by Fancy Feast. I've given her wet food before, and usually get her one with salmon in it because it seems to be her favourite. Now she just vomits about 10 minutes later.

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. Sometimes adding in a new food in dogs or cats can cause GI upset and vomiting. I would recommend stopping the new food. If she continues to vomit then I would recommend taking her to your veterinarian so they can examine her. There are other causes of vomiting including G.I. obstruction, pancreatitis, toxin ingestion, or infectious causes. Your veterinarian will be able to perform diagnostics to assess what the cause is if the vomiting persists and provide appropriate treatment. I hope she feels better soon.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Hope

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DOMESTIC

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10 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Twitching Tail,
Twitching Tail, Twitching Body

Is Natural Balance Duck and Peas a good option to switch to? Would this be considered a commercial food? Are there any good vets in Brooklyn, NY that know about this Fancy Feast Allergy?

April 22, 2018

Hope's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without more information about Hope, I can't determine that she has a food allergy, and other allergies are much more common, such as fleas and environmental allergies. Natural Balance Duck and Pea may be a perfectly great food for her, but without examining her, I can't advise whether that is a good idea or not. Most veterinarians are well versed in allergies in general, and can help guide you as to whether this seems to be a food allergy, or another type of problem. I hope that all goes well for her.

April 22, 2018

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Cody

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dsh

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12 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Hyperthyroidism

Does fancy feast tin food contain any soy? My cat has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and someone said it could be because of soy that can affect the thyroid.

Dec. 2, 2017

Cody's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Below is a link to the ingredients page on the Fancy Feast website where it states that among other protein sources and other ingredients, Fancy Feast contains the following soy products: soy flour, soy protein, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, soybean meal and soybean oil; additionally a variety of unnamed colourings and some preservatives are also in Fancy Feast. Soy can have a modest effect on the thyroid increasing T4 levels but T3 levels remain the same (see second link below). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.fancyfeast.com/ingredients www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15141877

Dec. 3, 2017

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Pablo

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dsh

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Wheezing

My cat Pablo always had respiratory issues since he was adopted as kitten . He had coughing maybe twice a year but now since I changed him to fancy feast because he lost interest in his limited ingredient diet he is coughing and wheezing everyday ... especially after he eats it .... vet said food allergy is dermal but I believe he’s allergic to the corn glutens or artificial flavors in the fancy feast canned food

Oct. 26, 2017

Pablo's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It is possible that there is something in the Fancy Feast (not necessarily the grains) which is causing some allergies, you can switch back to the limited food diet and he will start eating it once he sees there is no Fancy Feast coming. Once Pablo has been on the limited ingredient diet for two weeks or so you may see some improvement. Allergies from food are usually dermal in presentation but I would keep an eye on the respiratory tract; allergy testing may also be useful. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Oct. 26, 2017

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Crystal

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Himalayan

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16 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Hair Loss
Scratching
Chin Ulcers

Crystal was in heat on and off for about 6 months and lost a lot of weight. She also got these scabs on her chin frequently since she was a baby. She has been on a diet of Purina kitten kibble her whole life and to the vet multiple time. They say she has allergies but we don’t know what to. The scratching started after we gave her fancy feast but we also give her tuna too. She has all the symptoms of being allergic to fancy feast so I got her on the Hills Science diet but think I need to switch her to Blue Buffalo because they have less ingredients. My problem is I think she might be pregnant and need her to gain weight so she can have healthy kittens. I don’t know what she is allergic to and I’m worried about having her on Hills Science for a couple weeks and then switching it up again. What should I do?

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Bentley Edmond

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Chinchilla Persian

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2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Dry Patches & Hair Loss, Thinning

Hello. My Bentley is a Chinchilla Persian who loves to eat the dry fillet mignon with seafood brand of fancy feast. He's 2 yes old, not a fan of wet food but does receive greenies brand hairball treats at 5:30pm every day. He's very consistent with his schedule. The past month his fur has been coming our terribly and his skin in dry & scaly. I bathe him and use a shedding comb. He is petted daily many times as its his home. He allows me to serve him. I just ordered Royal Cainan longhair dry food for him and new treats. I've evaluated his stress and any environmental changes. I keep things consistent to not invoke stress.

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Khalie

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Domestic long hair

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12 Years

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Critical severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting, Lethargy, Collapsed,

After many years I finally tried Fancy Feast. My cat was extremely healthy. After one week of eating Fancy Feast chicken she started to vomit bile. Not thinking it might be the food until after one week my catcwent from healthy ill. The vet asked if she msy have ingested something poisonous. The only new think she ate was the Fancy Feast. She was too far gone and I lost my sweet angel and I believe Fancy Feast was ground zero. Keep your pets away from this brand.

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Butch

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mixed

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Bites Down And Howels

Butch has had all teeth removed. He now gets infections in his gums about every month. Could this be from allergy to Fancy Feast cat food. They treat with anti inflammatory shot and antibiotics.

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