Best cats for allergies, by the numbers
When you have to choose between your human, your cat and your health, the health of your cat often gets pushed aside.
While it is true that it can be difficult to keep cats away from certain foods that can cause digestive issues, there are plenty of ways to avoid some of the most common allergy triggers, such as fish, shellfish, eggs and milk.
By the numbers
What do your furry family members eat? A 2013 survey by the National Institutes of Health revealed that almost 50 percent of U.S. pet cats have been diagnosed with at least one health condition, but of those, 90 percent have allergies. And in cats, allergies are the third most common health condition behind diabetes and obesity.
So what do cats eat? And what can we do to make their lives healthier?
Here are some of the top foods that cats are known to be allergic to, along with some of the most common allergy triggers.
Fruits and vegetables: A few weeks ago, I was asked about food for cats to help with allergies. I started to list a few foods, like apples, carrots, sweet potatoes and bananas. I was met with a lot of eye-rolling, but also a lot of confusion. Why do cats not like certain fruits and vegetables? What about spinach, peas, broccoli, zucchini? I could have gone on, but I didn’t want to be the person who talked cats out of healthy food. Instead, I listed the top allergy triggers for cats and included the best alternatives.
Fish: Salmon, cod, flounder, trout and halibut are the top five allergens for cats.
Shellfish: Shrimp, crab, lobster, clams and mussels are the most common triggers for cats.
Eggs: Eggs can cause serious health issues for cats, even if they don’t show symptoms. Eggs can cause a lot of health issues in people, but they pose the biggest threat to your cat if they’re eating the yolks. If you’re a vegetarian or have a gluten allergy, you can find plenty of egg-free foods to feed your cat, including a lot of commercially available dog foods.
Milk: Milk can be a challenge, as it is one of the most common allergy triggers. Milk is in many of the best commercially available dog foods, as well as in most canned and dry foods that are marketed for pets. You can also feed canned or dry foods that are specifically labeled for cats.
Beef and lamb: Both beef and lamb are healthy meats for cats to eat. They contain a lot of high-quality protein and are low in saturated fat. If you are a vegan, you can easily substitute meatless meats, such as veggie burgers, soy burgers, lentils and other vegetables.
Meat and bone meal: It is recommended that cats only have meat and bone meal as part of a small, limited portion of their diet and only if they’re not having any other problems. Cats are very sensitive to meats that contain animal fat. Bone meal is also highly controversial, as it has been known to cause kidney failure in cats.
Chicken: Chicken can be healthy for cats, but like meat, it is high in fat, and the skinless cuts are usually higher in fat than the darker ones. You may need to check with your veterinarian to find out whether a specific chicken brand is healthy for your cat, and many pet stores will be able to recommend specific brands that are good for your pet.
Dry foods: Many of the most commercially available dry foods for cats have been reformulated to remove specific allergens. Most will have a label stating that it is free of chicken, but if you want to be safe, always double check.
Canned foods: You can find most canned foods labeled as “human grade,” meaning they are safe for cats. However, you should double-check to make sure that no fish or shellfish was used in the making of the food. It is always a good idea to check with the manufacturer before making a purchase.
I recommend feeding a vegetarian or vegan diet for a cat that is going to have a problem with allergy symptoms. For allergy-friendly foods that are made specifically for cats, I recommend checking with your local pet store to find out what their recommendations are.
I would not recommend feeding a diet of animal products, including fish, to a cat with any health condition that could be related to allergies, as the animal proteins that are in the foods are known to worsen such conditions.
So how can you feed your cat?
You can give your cat a variety of commercial pet foods and even homemade cat foods. If you feed a vegetarian diet to your cat, you may find that you have to make more recipes for your cat, as there are very limited commercially available foods for them.
The first thing that you need to do is make sure your cat is eating a healthy diet. This is not a diet that has an equal amount of all of their daily needs in one food. They are eating a balanced diet that meets the majority of their daily nutritional requirements, but not all of them.
Next, you will want to make sure that their diet does not contain any foods that they have an allergy to. You can check with your veterinarian to see what foods they can safely eat.
You will want to avoid feeding the cat anything that will contain the most commonly identified allergy triggers, such as meat, bone meal, shellfish and eggs. If you are feeding your cat any of these foods, you will want to ensure that their food does not contain any of these. You may even want to avoid feeding any of these foods if you are having any allergy issues with your cat.
You can make up recipes for homemade diets and find recipes on the Internet that are free of the most common allergy triggers.
I recommend feeding a cat a food with a meat and bone meal that is free of shellfish or that has been formulated for cats. If you are going to feed your cat chicken or fish, you can also add that