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What Is So Special About Food?

By Becca Morgan

Cats, like people, sometimes require a special diet. I don’t mean doing keto or going vegan but a diet to improve their quality of life. These foods are typically prescribed by a veterinarian when a cat is suffering from a food allergy, digestive problem or to combat a specific disease. Typically, at ACS we have cats who require food to regulate thyroid issues (y/d), gastroenteric (EN) food for digestive issues, food that aids in urinary health (UR) and Hydrolyzed food for cats with a food allergy.


Harvey Dent requires a Hydrolyzed diet.  Cats who require this are typically allergic to the main protein or carbohydrate ingredient in regular food. This special food is designed to disrupt the proteins within the food to remove existing allergens. Dr. McDaniel in a Cornell article says “We don’t know why this allergy develops, a cat of any age can be affected, and it can occur in a cat that has been on the same diet for years.” While that may be a little scary to hear, food allergies are very easy to manage, pretty simple to diagnose and doesn’t make the animal any less adorable. Some very clear signs of food allergies are incessant itching in head and neck area, inflamed ears that may be draining, crusty and very itchy, and in some cases diarrhea as the food disrupts the cat’s gastrointestinal system as well. The allergy causes aggravating lesions which other than being itchy don’t pose a significant health threat, but with persistent itching may cause a serious infection. The cat can also developed gastrointestinal problems and may have long term complications, including food avoidance that can result in health-compromising weight loss among other things.


Why, do you ask is this topic so important? Well we have an incredible, outgoing, sweet, cuddle bug here at ACS named Harvey Dent we estimate to be at least 8 and he has a food allergy. We don’t know how long he was having symptoms before he came into the shelter with his 25 other friends. They all came here in pretty rough shape but we knew something wasn’t right with Harvey when he wasn’t getting better like the rest. It didn’t take long for our vets to diagnose him with food allergies. Because he went unchecked for so long his symptoms were very severe, he looked similar to a burn victim hence the name Harvey Dent. People keep overlooking him because he has scars and his special food is a smidge on the expensive side. I think it is important to understand a problem so it becomes less scary. If Harvey can overcome what he’s been through and come out as amazing as he is, you can do anything. Please don’t overlook Harvey and cats like him. Next time you’re at a shelter take a look at the harder to adopt cats, you may be surprised what you’re missing.