Very Limited Ingredient Diet, help please

My poor cat suffers terribly from allergies… and after months of food trials, my vet suggested blood tests. They confirmed he is allergic to BEEF, LAMB, DUCK, CHICKEN, TURKEY, SALMON, WHEAT, SOYBEAN, RICE, MAIZE and MILK.
He also can’t eat Hills, RC or Purina prescription foods, which either cause a skin reaction or make him vomit.
There are some cat foods online which might be worth trying, but I don’t know the manufacturers… these are OPTIMANOVA (rabbit & potato, dry food), FERINGA (rabbit, wet food) and SCHMUSY NATURE (tuna). Does anyone recommend these brands please?
I must find a healthy diet suitable for him (and his non-allergic sister!) to eat long-term.
Would be very grateful for any suggestions, I’m pretty desperate. Thank you

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Hello loucat and welcome to the forum!

Of the 3 brands mentioned we have tried Feringa’s dry food, which is a favourite cat food here added to a wet food, not for palatability, mainly for nutritional variance.

You perhaps already realise that as he is showing intolerance to salmon, duck, chicken and turkey, it would be best to avoid foods which include salmon oil, foods which state poultry oils or poultry fats and also any foods which list poultry as the protein source.

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…may I ask if you think he may be able to tolerate white fish?
And would he perhaps manage a novel protein? A meat he has not yet been exposed to, for example an exotic meat.

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Having just looked at the ingredients online for Optimanova Rabbit and Potato, the ingredients list mentions "Oils and fats ".
It might be prudent before you feed the food to your cat, to ask the manufacturer what is the animal or vegetable source of the oils and fats.

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Some years back I fed Bozita. I can’t recall which one but do recall doing some considerable research. They do various flavours including Elk for cats with sensitive stomachs.

Applaws seemed to review okay too.

Sorry I cant give more info - no cats here now & I am far from well informed re cat food developments in recent years

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Thanks guys! Unfortunately most of the dry foods that ‘nearly’ make the criteria contain salmon oil or a poultry fat… it is very frustrating.

The test results indicated that white fish was ok (as with tuna)… however when he eats it, there is often a bad outcome… so I don’t know whether the test is reliable enough to trust.

Tonight I am trying ACANA PACIFICA again, so will see. (Is it safe to give them food containing fish on a long term basis?)

I have tried every variety of Catz Finefood and he likes the kangaroo flavour - definitely an unusual protein! but it makes him very itchy, so I can only feed it to him occasionally.

He also suffers from environmental allergies, which are confusing the issue - although I can usually spot the food allergy, as he starts reacting a few hours after eating…

Applaws wet food contains a lot of rice… and the dry food isn’t suitable either. But I don’t know Bozita, thanks I’ll take a look at their website

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Bozita is very interesting… Elk, reindeer and crayfish varieties! Sadly they seem to add chicken to everything, so not an option.

Thinking about the last time he ate white fish (before the blood tests), I’m pretty sure it was poached in milk - which would explain the allergic reaction. However the lab said it is still possible he is allergic to fish, and only food trial and error will confirm the test results.

The only proteins that showed a zero allergic response were PORK, RABBIT, WHITE FISH, TUNA & EGG… (if that helps…)

In the meantime, I have ordered some Ropocat sensitive gold, (suggested on petforums)… It will arrive in 3-4 days.

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Tonight I am trying ACANA PACIFICA again, so will see. (Is it safe to give them food containing fish on a long term basis?)

Your cat is showing intolerances to ingredients which are advisedly best avoided, thus leaving the choices of foods limited, in order to prevent his becoming poorly.

Notably there are a variety of different fish(es!) in the Acana Pacifica recipe and hopefully he will be able to tolerate these?
Regarding long term use, Champion Petfoods say “Our Biologically Appropriate™ foods are designed to match the eating anatomy of cats, and to produce a nutritional analysis that mirrors the natural diet …”

Generally I would want to offer a variety of foods, if possible, to the extent of an individual tolerance level, in order to give the greatest opportunity of a full and completely nutritional diet. My preference to help with hydration is to add a wet food, as mine (like many cats!) do not drink plenty of fluids.

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Other suggestions of cat foods which you might further research are:

Varieties of “Animonda Carny Ocean”, namely, ‘White Tuna & Prawns’, ‘White Tuna & Quail Egg’, ‘Tuna & Seafood’, ‘White Tuna & Red Snapper’.

Varieties of “Feringa”, namely, ‘Game with Canberries & Dandelion’, ‘Rabbit with Parsnips & Catmint’.

Varieties of “Grau Feast”, namely, ‘Sensitive Mutton with Spelt’, ‘Game with vegetables & pasta’.

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Hi Loucat,
As a first advice, I would recommend not trusting blindly the results from the blood test. That is a test that has some validity for environmental allergies, but is not as reliable for food allergies or intolerances. For example my dog was IgE positive to pork and duck (among many other ingredients) but now I know for a fact she can tolerate those proteins, as well as turkey and white fish.
I completely understand your frustration as I come from a very similar situation: the blood test returned hypersensitivity to 11 out of 19 ingredients and almost all meat sources. For the first 2 years of her life, my dog spent half of the time under antibiotics or corticosteroids.
My personal experience and a bit of research is that the only thing you can try is an elimination diet. Pick one meat source and feed exclusively that for 1 month. You may have to home cook for a while. If after that time you see improvements, keep going for another month until all skin rash are clear; if not, try a different meat for another month.
I know the diet will be unbalanced and far from optimum but on the short term is a fair price to pay. I did it myself for my dog and now she hasn’t had problems since last November… a real record for her!
If you’re interested in knowing more, I’m happy to share my experience.

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Firstly Meg, thanks for the suggestions - you have given the ingredients a lot of thought, thank you.

From past experience I am still a bit skeptical about tuna (despite the test results)… but will cautiously try some Animonda Carny Ocean varieties from ZOOPLUS.

I already have Feringa with Parsnips & Catmint - but he won’t touch it! (nor will his sister), which is a real shame.

His (environmental) allergy results highlighted dandelions as another culprit… but I might try the Feringa Game option, as it only has a very small amount of dandelion ingredient.

Lastly, it looks like the Grau Feast with Game, Veg & Pasta is for dogs? And unfortunately your other suggestion (Grau with Spelt) won’t work, as wheat is a definite no-go.

You were right to have doubts about the wide variety of fish in Acana Pacifica… we had a very bad night last night, and I won’t be feeding him that again. It seems he reacts to some fish quite badly, with massive skin irritation and agitated scratching.

And on the other point, I agree about wet food and ideally would like him to have both dry and wet food varieties, so I can leave dry food during the day or when I work late, and give wet food at feeding times.

He also drinks a lot of water, which is unusual, but reassuring. I find it helps to leave fresh water in the bedroom, where he sleeps, as well as in the kitchen with his meals. In fact it has almost become a routine in the evenings - he waits for me to put a fresh bowl of water in the bedroom and then has a drink before bed. It’s very sweet.

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Red_Akita, I am sorry you have gone through this experience as well. I find it heartbreaking to see my cat enjoy his meal so much, and then suffer for it later. But I am glad you were able to find a suitable diet eventually.

My cat developed desperate allergies a couple of years ago, which coincided with the time we moved house. We saw several vets, who blamed environmental allergens that were common to the area - which kind of made sense, considering the timeframe. However after a year in the new house, his allergies subsided dramatically and I kept him on a strict diet of HILLS ZD (6-8 months) as a precaution.

We moved house again this year (from abroad to the UK), and whilst he was locked inside getting used to the new house, I discovered his intolerance for HILLS ZD - he was vomiting badly. I changed to HILLS DD, which caused the same condition. Having no option, I changed to normal foods - and this is when I discovered how bad his food allergies were, and immediately placed him on a food trial.

Unfortunately, I am yet to find any suitable food and have been forced to return him to the ZD dry (with the occasional CATZ FINEFOOD KANGAROO), until I can find something else that is acceptable.

I had really hoped the blood tests would help me get to the bottom of his problem as quickly as possible… but you are right to suggest caution. I know food allergies can change with time and diet… and perhaps he is especially allergic at the moment because of the new environment?

Unfortunately he does not enjoy meat at all (unlike my other cat), and will only occasionally - and very reluctantly - eat a piece of meat or fish. So I am really stuck looking for kibble and canned food.

As for his blood tests, his results showed high IGE and IGG scores for nearly every protein mentioned above… so I am scared to try any of these at the moment, in case I make things worse.

I would like to hear more of your story… anything you can suggest will be extremely helpful, thank you. It has been a very lonely experience and it would be nice to hear more from someone who has done this before.
Would you like to stay on forum or send a personal message?

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A couple of extra thoughts …as he will occasionally eat meat have you any thoughts about considering feeding (part of) his diet as raw? There is helpful information in the website here:
Cat BARF diet information

Kiezebrink supply raw cat food, as well as raw dog food - they also supply to zoos! There are many foods available for cats including rabbit, hare, quail, pheasant, wood pigeon, partridge, etc.
[Please accept my warning that some meat mixtures are fairly eye popping and hopefully anyone looking will not be offended.]

Lastly, perhaps more testing is the last thing on your mind after the blood tests…yet I just wanted to give you the heads up about another test which is less invasive and which you may wish to read about - and that may be done at home. Results are for antibodies called IgA and IgM using a saliva sample from your cat, testing for food intolerance and sensitivities to the following foods:
Beef, Chicken Eggs, Corn, Barley, Wheat, Millet, Soy, Oatmeal, Cow’s Milk, Salmon, Lamb, Rabbit, Venison (Deer), Rice, Chicken, Quinoa, Turkey, Potato, Sweet Potato, Peanut/Peanut Butter, Pork, White Colored Ocean Fish (includes sardines, menhaden, pollack, herring), Duck, Lentil (includes peas).

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From past experience I am still a bit skeptical about tuna
Yes I would urge caution, particularly feeding tuna every day. looks like the Grau Feast with Game, Veg & Pasta is for dogs?
Yes annoyingly they are only offering that variety as a dog food!
...(Grau with Spelt) won't work, as wheat is a definite no-go.
Now here you may be pleasantly surprised - I've my fingers crossed that your cat may hopefully be able to tolerate spelt; I've a dog intolerant of wheat yet tolerated spelt which was an ingredient in Lily's Kitchen food. David has a helpful article about spelt on the allaboutdogfood site here: ****
You were right to have doubts about the wide variety of fish in Acana Pacifica.. we had a very bad night last night, and I won't be feeding him that again. It seems he reacts to some fish quite badly, with massive skin irritation and agitated scratching.
Ohh poor boy.... we try so hard to help our pets and it's tough at times.. The saliva test I've mentioned earlier tests for different fish, if that may help?
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The spelt article was interesting… thank you, it might be an option then.

I have tried feeding him the Ropocat rabbit and Feringa rabbit canned foods, but he won’t touch them! I will keep trying.

Please can you give me more information on the saliva test? That sounds quite promising and I haven’t heard of it before
They send you a kit, you take the saliva sample and send it back to the lab.
As far as I know, the scientific community is still divided on its reliability. Also, note that it only works for intolerances, not allergies. The good news is that most likely your cat is intolerant to multiple foods; was she allergic, given the severity you have described, you should have seen her going in anaphylactic shock by now.

He has shown a food intolerance only after eating the Hills prescription foods…

Otherwise I believe his symptoms are those of an allergic reaction - very itchy skin, hair loss and sometimes a rash. He has been treated many times and this is the vets’ diagnoses.

I am extremely relieved he has not suffered anaphylaxis - grateful for small mercies!!

But thanks for the info… it’s just a pity the saliva tests are only for discovering intolerances… I had hoped they might provide more answers, as it is especially difficult trying to find a suitable diet when springtime environmental allergies are also clouding the picture…

Allergies and intolerances have most symptoms in common, including skin rash, itchiness and local baldness. Allergies are incredibly rare, particularly if there are so many all together… sometimes allergy and intolerance are used interchangeably (by vets too) but there are actually differences. I wouldn’t exclude your cat has just severe intolerances.

Perhaps you’re right, I don’t know… but there’s a few articles on the net that suggest intolerance causes digestive problems (vomiting, diarrhea), whilst allergies cause an immune response (itchy skin, dermatitis). For example:

Hydrolysed protein diets, like Hills Z/D, should have been perfect for an elimination diet… but something in both the Hills D/D and Z/D products makes my cat sick. (I believe both the Hills D/D and Z/D diets contain soybean oil and/or vegetable oil - but I haven’t confirmed whether this ingredient is causing his intolerance).

Those articles say the truth, but just part of it. Some intolerances are caused by the body failing to reak down a sugar because of the absence of a specific enzime. One of the articles rightly mentions lactose intolerance as an example, where the body doesn’t produce lactase enzymes needed to break down the lactose sugar.
There are though intolerances that are generated by antibodies present mainly in our intestine and in mucosae like saliva (IgA and IgG are the antibodies); the response in these cases is delayed by several minutes to few hours because the protein needs to start being digested before being attacked.
If the antibody responsible is IgE, then we talk of actual allergy: the response is immediate (think of peanut allergy).