Traditionally, the terms “food allergy” and “food intolerance” have been used to describe any and all adverse food reactions in cats. The term “food allergy” or “sensitivity” is really most accurately applied when the immune system is involved in creating the signs and symptoms that result. “Food intolerance” is a far more accurate term to describe adverse food reactions in cats that cover a large category of reactions that do not involve the immune system and are generally digestive issues.
Adverse food reactions in cats often mimic food allergies because there are only so many ways that the body can demonstrate a problem with food. One characteristic of food intolerance is that it occurs on the initial exposure to that food or food additive. Immune-system regulated reactions (allergies or sensitivities) generally require several exposures before signs are seen. The incidence of food intolerance versus food allergy is not known.
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