Chicken is one of the most sought-after proteins for cat food due to its affordability and familiar taste. Unfortunately, chicken may also cause allergic reactions in cats due to its common allergen status.
If your cat suffers from a chicken allergy, changing their diet could provide them with relief from itching. Fortunately, there are plenty of non-chicken options available to choose from.
Understanding Chicken in Cat Food
Understanding chicken in cat food is essential for selecting a product that meets your feline’s nutritional requirements. Look for foods with complete and balanced nutrition or those approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
High-quality cat foods typically avoid ingredients like poultry by-product meal or ground chicken meat, preferring instead a protein source closer to your cat’s natural diet – like beef or chicken.
By-product meal refers to the rendered and ground-up parts of an animal, such as necks, feet, intestine and bone. While your cat may enjoy these pieces of chicken in their raw state, processing has taken away most of their essential nutrients.
Cat food allergies occur when your cat’s immune system reacts abnormally to one or more proteins found in food they eat, usually from meats like beef, chicken and fish.
Allergies can affect cats of all ages and typically remain mild. However, some cats may develop more severe reactions and require medical intervention for treatment.
Symptoms may include hives, inflammation and bloody rashes. In some cases, gastrointestinal problems may also present.
To accurately diagnose a chicken allergy, your vet should perform an elimination test. This involves abstaining from all foods containing chicken and its by-products (eggs, turkey and squab) for two to four weeks.
Once a diagnosis is made, your veterinarian will recommend a special hypoallergenic diet to calm your cat’s allergy. They should remain on this diet for 6-8 weeks during which time any allergic flare-ups should have subsided.
Many pet food manufacturers utilize a chicken by-product called chicken meal in their recipes. This is made from ground, rendered parts such as necks, feet and undeveloped eggs along with intestines of slaughtered chickens that have been removed of feathers.
By-products are not inherently bad, but they should be avoided if your cat has any medical issues or you want the most natural food possible.
Contrary to popular misconceptions and marketing gimmicks, by-products are not necessarily bad in commercial pet foods.
When purchasing meat or fish-based pet food, by-products are likely to be included. While these may seem unhealthy for your cat, they actually provide them with essential protein sources.
Chicken-Free Cat Food
Chicken is a widely-used protein ingredient in pet foods, and it’s also one of the most common allergens among cats. If your feline friend has an allergy to chicken, it is essential that they refrain from eating it.
Thankfully, there are plenty of chicken-free cat foods that still provide all the essential nutrients your furry friend needs for healthy and happy living! We’ve curated a list of the top quality yet budget friendly chicken-free cat foods.
Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Minced Chicken in Bone Broth Gravy Dog and Cat Food is a nutritious meal made with only premium ingredients. Free from artificial preservatives, feed grade by-products, corn, wheat, and soy for your pet to enjoy, The Honest Kitchen offers this scrumptious recipe without artificial preservatives or feed grade by-products.
Taste of the Wild Canyon River Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is an excellent alternative for chicken-free cat food. This high-protein, grain-free dry food is made with fresh trout and ocean fish meal to provide your cat with a balanced diet, plus it includes smoked salmon as an additional source of protein.