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We suspected a food allergy in one of my cats. The course my vet recommended for this was to switch him to a special diet (containing no previously-eaten proteins) for a few months and then, if that made it better, re-introduce old proteins one at a time to see which he reacts to -- possibly with iterations.

My cat's allergy turned out not to be to food, but this got me wondering: many foods, both canned and dry, use a combination of ingredients, so he'd been exposed to all the biggies (chicken, turkey, beef, tuna, other seafood, etc) and possibly even to some of the less-common ones (lamb, duck, a stray mouse...). If I were trying to isolate a food allergy, I'd have to pick one of those at a time to try.

Can we improve on random choice? Is there any research on what are the most common food allergies in cats?

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When I had a cat with severe (anaphylaxtic shock severe) allergies, we were able to have the vet do a blood test which gave us a list of foods that we had to avoid. It was definitely easier than randomly guessing which food to try next.

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Web-MD for Pets has this list of common cat allergies:

The most common food allergens are chicken, fish, corn, wheat, and soy; cats may also develop a food allergy to beef, pork, dairy products, or eggs.

If you think your cat has a food allergy, I'd suspect some additive in the food if you're feeding a commercial diet before I'd suspect the meat itself (beef, chicken, etc.). Cats need meat, not grain. They're obligate carnivores and food manufacturers add a lot of extras to their formulas.

  • Cats are carnivores and need meat, but it sounds like some cats can be allergic to some meats (but not all of them or that would be a problem, of course). – Monica Cellio Oct 10 '13 at 19:31
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    I suppose you're right. I admit I'm biased against commercial diets so I tend to suspect the additives before I would the actual meat. – Cuthbert Oct 10 '13 at 19:33
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    I don't know that it's not the additives -- just that my vet and the article you linked both suggested actual meat allergies could be in play. – Monica Cellio Oct 10 '13 at 19:36

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