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Should Your Cat's Food Be Grain Free?

Some cat health issues may be due to sensitivity to wheat, barley or corn


Is grain the problem?

Only a veterinarian can diagnose what ails your kitty. However, cats are sometimes sensitive to ingredients in their food — even things they used to able to eat with no problem — so it’s worth considering. If your faithful feline shows some or all of these symptoms, they might be suffering from dietary troubles:

  • Itchy, flaky, bumpy or red skin
  • Itchy, flaky, bumpy or red ears
  • Gastrointestinal upset, including diarrhea or vomiting

What’s so bad about grain?

Nothing, so long as it isn’t bothering your cat. In fact, the symptoms above don’t always mean your kitty has grain sensitivity. But recent research shows that cat ancestors didn’t need grain, so it’s possible your modern cat doesn’t either.

If you suspect your kitty is sensitive to grain, a trip to the vet is in order. The veterinarian will evaluate your cat’s symptoms and advise whether going grain-free might help.

Remember, it can take up to 12 weeks before a cat’s symptoms respond to a diet change. During this time, avoid giving your kitty treats or people-food (which may contain grain) so you can accurately assess whether the grain-free diet is working.

Healthy cats can also go grain-free. Many cat parents say skipping grain helps their pet’s digestion and makes their skin healthier and coat shinier. Just be sure to consult your vet when making dietary changes.

Common grains in cat food

Wet or dry cat food can include:

  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Barley

Wheat is the culprit that most often leads to digestive troubles, followed by corn. Soy, another ingredient in some foods, is not a grain but can cause similar problems.

Should all cats be grain-free?

Not necessarily. Check with your vet before switching to a grain-free diet, especially if your pet is:

  • Diabetic
  • Living with kidney issues
  • Overweight
  • Inactive
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