What are Meat Protein Allergies?
Meat protein is the third most common type of allergen known to cats, just slightly less common than inhalant allergens and flea bite dermatitis. The allergy is caused by one or more protein-based ingredients present in your cat’s food. Common meat protein-based foods that cause feline allergies include chicken, beef, lamb, fish and meat byproducts. Meat byproducts are not muscle meat, but rather the organs, tongue, and ears of the mammal. A feline may consume the same type, brand and flavor of food before developing an allergic response, as the body creates antigens to fight it. Some cats won’t shows signs of a meat protein allergy for nearly two years.
If your cat is itchy and scratchy, she could be suffering from regular seasonal allergies, but if the problem continues on into the months of winter, she could have a hyper allergic reaction to meat proteins. An allergy is characterized by an overreacted response to a foreign substance produced by the immune system. The immune system works to keep infectious microorganisms, such as bacteria or viruses, from invading the body and making the cat sick. Sometimes the immune system mistakes a potentially harmless substance for an infectious organism, creating antigens against the element, which we see as an allergic reaction. In most allergic reactions, a feline will become itchy and the skin will become irritated. However, food allergies tend to only affect the cat’s head and neck with small, fluid-filled skin lumps. It is also estimated that approximately 10 percent of felines exhibit gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea and vomiting, as the body’s immune system tries to remove the hazard from being absorbed by the body.
Symptoms of Meat Protein Allergies in Cats
An estimated 10-15 percent of felines will develop gastrointestinal symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, indicating a meat protein allergy. However, the most common symptom of this type of allergy is skin eruptions of pale, small, fluid-filled lumps on a cat’s skin. The lesions tend to remain localized to the head and neck of the feline, but can be found in other areas of the feline’s body. The aggravating skin lesions do not pose a significant hazard to the feline, other than being extremely, irritatingly itchy. However, vigorous scratching poses a risk for secondary skin infections known as a pyoderma. A pyoderma is an infected skin wound caused by a bacterial infection. Additionally, the feline can lose a dangerously large amount of weight as the cat links her food to vomiting and diarrhea. Clinical signs a cat owner can watch for that may indicate a meat protein allergy in their cat include the following:
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Small, fluid-filled bumps
- Excessive licking
- Otitis externa (external ear inflammation brought on by scratching)
- Non-seasonal itching
Causes of Meat Protein Allergies in Cats
Meat protein allergies in cats is caused by the immune system overreacting to one or more ingredients in your cat’s food. The cat’s immune system mistakes a potentially harmless substance for an infectious organism, creating antigens against the element. Canned foods, cat kibble and raw food diets are all possible causes of a meat protein allergy. Potential meat protein allergens present in a cat food product include; chicken, beef, lamb, fish and meat byproducts.
Meat protein allergies are not specific to any age, sex or cat breed. Felines with other inhalant, seasonal, or insect allergies are at a high risk for developing an allergy to meat protein products in cat food.
Diagnosis of Meat Protein Allergies in Cats
Diagnosing a meat protein allergy in cats is difficult, as there is no specific test available for identifying a food allergy. Your veterinarian’s diagnosis will be based on ruling out other possible allergens and feline conditions that could cause similar symptoms that mimic meat protein allergies. The diagnostic process will begin with a physical examination, review of the feline’s medical history and a consultation with the pet owner. Skin tests will aid in ruling out the possibility of feline mange, ringworm, inhalant allergies and flea allergy dermatitis. Once other possible allergens have been ruled out, the veterinarian will place your cat on a food elimination trial. In this trial the doctor will prescribe your cat a diet for approximately 8-12 weeks. During the trial, you will not be able to give your cat any other food, including treats, table scraps, vitamins, or minerals. If the allergy clears up after the trial period, the veterinarian will have determined the cause of the feline allergy.
Treatment of Meat Protein Allergies in Cats
Food avoidance is the most effective, cost-effective and easiest way to treat a meat protein allergy in cats. Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe your cat a diet based on his or her needs. While your cat is recovering from the initial allergy, the veterinarian may prescribe corticosteroids and antihistamines to control the itching. If your cat’s vigorous itching has caused the feline to develop a skin infection, antibiotics may be prescribed for a temporary period to eliminate bacterial infection.
Recovery of Meat Protein Allergies in Cats
A feline will make a full recovery from his or her meat protein allergy if the feline is fed the appropriate diet. In order to avoid food allergens in the future, avoid feeding your cat table scraps, treats and any other food that was not prescribed by your veterinarian.
Meat Protein Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I have a persian cat. Last night i fed hum a meat of fried chicken, then today i take him a bath suddenly i have notice he gat his fur hair remove from his skin and it look like getting wound. This is the second time i applied or used to him a shampoo and soap madre cacao. I dont know if which cause to him this allergy, is it the fried chicken meat or the madre cacao product. Please i need an advise or answer. I dont know what to do.
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I rescued a male Ragamuffin 18 months ago and he’s had loose stools since we got him. He only goes once a day, sometimes every other..but when he goes it’s loose to the point of liquid running down him after. Sometimes has bright red blood too.
He’s had all the tests known to man..nothing wrong apart from high levels of corona virus and he’s otherwise completely fine. I’ve tried various grain free etc diets which go straight through him.
What I have noticed though is that if he has chicken a couple of days running, his pop is much much worse...so I’m wondering if he’s actually intolerant? I’ve noticed he’s scratching lots around his head and neck (he’s indoor and has flea treatment).
My vet doesn’t seem great on the nutrition side so I’m wondering whether to try altering his diet myself...any recommendations? I believe he’ll need a novel protein.
He’s an extremely stressed type of cat, any disruption he will start weeing on my bed...wets himself if he has to go in a carrier etc (another reason I don’t want to drag him to the vets again)
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I’m kind of at a loss as to what is causing my cats constant itching. She is scratching only around her neck and ears and has been doing so for about three months consistently. She has been bathed and combed for fleas sever times and non have been found and she is also receives a monthly dose of Revolution flea medicine so I would be shocked if it was fleas. She has not build up in her ears so mites don’t seem to be the culprit. After ruling these out I turned to her food, she originally was eating Natural Balance Kitten formula but she started throwing that up so we transitioned her to Blue Buffalo Kitten Wellness but again she had some vomiting so she again transitioned to Blue Wildreness for kittens after a recommendation from a friend and her vomiting stopped but that is when her searching started so I once again transitioned her back to Natural Balance limited ingredient and she seems to love it and has no digestive issues with it but the scratching has not subsided. I’ve tried grain free, limited ingredient, and alienating certain proteins from her diet (she is not table fed) but nothing seems to be helping and I’m at a loss as to what is causing her constant scratching.
To the owner who got allergy test for protein: what test did this and how much ? Been climbing walls trying to figure out my Kitty's issue.
My cat has been scratching and overgrooming for about 18 months resulting in sores & hot spots which are a nightmare to clear up. Also his ears produce too much wax. The cause was thought to be flea allergy but despite vigorous flea treatment, the problem continued. So I looked at his food and commenced feeding single/novel protein wet foods such a rabbit, kangaroo, venison. Still the problem continued. So at the last vet visit, they suggested hypoallergenic. I did some research and discovered that most hypoallergenic is single protein anyway, which I had tried so I took it one step further and decided that protein could likely be the problem so he is currently on a hydrolysed protein diet, mostly wet with small mount of similar kibble. We are 3 weeks in and already seeing improvement with much less scratching. Will continue with this for another month or more and then try to introduce single protein to see if he reacts or not, but so far hydrolysed seems to be the way forward, but I just don't think it's as satisfying hunger-wise and yet still have to watch his weight.
My vet told me there is no test for food allergy other than elimination diet test. How did you find out your cat was allergic to kangaroo and other protein?
My cat is biting his tail bloody and I don't know what it is that's bothering him
I have the same problem with my cat. I finally had an allergy test done, and discovered he's allergic to basically all proteins, even Kangaroo. As well as grasses. I give him a hydrolyzed protein food from the vet and it seems to be helping. Also I stopped giving him wheat grass. Go figure the things he loves. Its been a long expensive journey, but I'm so glad I forked out the money for the allergy test. Wish I did it sooner. I understand the frustration you and Bowie must feel!!!
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