Is Grain Free Bad for Cats?

While this may seem like a simple question, the answer isn’t so straightforward. Grain-free cat food can be healthy or unhealthy for your feline friend, depending on their individual dietary requirements. To begin with, cats are sensitive creatures, from their behaviors to their bellies. Primarily, cats are carnivores and require a high-protein diet with some grains. They struggle to digest vegetables, though their foods can come with some greens.

These days, you can find cat food that leaves out specific ingredients, such as fat, sugar, gluten, and more. While in some cases, pet parents may opt for these out of personal preference, which is not recommended, some cats may have an allergy, illness, aversion, or other reason that they need a special diet. At the end of the day, you don’t want to remove grains from your cat’s diet unless they need them removed. Grains can be beneficial to your feline friend.

What’s grain-free cat food?

Grain-free, as well as other types of specialized cat foods, are often considered “designer diets,” as they are often given to cats who have no allergies or other issues that call for a change in their food. For instance, a grain-free cat food may be offered to a cat who has shown signs of an allergy to the grains most often used in their food. There are several different types of grains that can come with your cat’s food, such as rice, wheat, oats, corn, and barley. According to Veterinary Dermatology, cats are rarely diagnosed with grain-related allergies. In fact, of the 56 cats studied, only four suffered from corn-related allergies, while 45 were allergic to fish, beef, or dairy.

Grain free cat food can help control your cat’s weight. However, it’s important to note that it can cause weight gain in some cats. This can be circumvented by adjusting the amount of food that you feed them at a time, though you’ll need to be sure that they are getting what they need from smaller amounts of food. If you aren’t certain of what to provide, a discussion with your vet can be enlightening and supportive.

Signs of a Food Allergy

If you’re concerned your cat may have a food allergy, you may have noticed symptoms like:



·     Excessive grooming

·     Inflamed skin

·     Itchiness

·     Scabs




·     Bald patches

·     Excessive hair loss

·     Hot spots

·     Sores



These allergic reactions can be associated with grooming products and environmental irritants, which are more common than food-related allergies. Be sure that you take your cat to the vet for a proper exam, as well as an elimination trial to find and diagnose your feline’s specific food allergy.

How to Choose the Right Grain-Free Cat Food

If your cat’s vet has determined they require a grain-free diet, it’s crucial that you find one that provides everything they need. Be sure to look through the ingredients and nutrients offered by the cat foods that you are interested in feeding your feline. Selecting the right food can make a difference in their short- and long-term health.


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