Food Trialling in Cats
Food trialling is notoriously difficult in cats. Cats are fastidious eaters and if they are allowed outside one cannot be sure that they are not eating somewhere else. To properly food trial a cat you must keep it indoors! Some cats and owners are stressed by this.
Food allergy is uncommonly diagnosed for this reason. However if it follows the pattern of the dog it is probably quite rare. Rosser discovered that food trials had to go on for as long as 3 months to pick up some food allergic cats, much longer in dogs.
There are several ways of food trialling in cats.
- Prepare a home-cooked diet of a novel protein and carbohydrate source, possibly and rice. This can be inconvenient and expensive for the client.
- Buy a commercial diet with novel protein and carbohydrate sources, e.g. Royal Canin’s Sensitivity Control.
- Buy a hydrolysate diet. These are often more expensive but are made to a very high standard and are hydrolysed into very small molecules that are highly unlikely to cause a hypersensitivity reaction. Examples include Royal Canin’s hypoallergenic diet. Cats seem to enjoy this food and find it palatable.
If the cat has improved after a food trial, I strongly recommend to the client to feed the old diet to see if the cat deteriorates. This will often happen very quickly, within one day but I ask the clients to keep an eye on the pet for one week.
As well as dermatological signs it is worth asking about gastro-intestinal signs. It is quite common to see loose stools and colitis.
Introducing new foods should be done over several days to avoid dietary upsets.
Although blood testing for food allergy is offered by some labs, I do not recommend it.