ISSN 2398-2950      

Food allergy testing



  • Allergic diseases are being recognized with increasing frequency in the cat.
  • The development of reliable serological tests to aid their diagnosis has been hampered by the lack of commercially available reagents for anti-feline IgE.
  • In 2003, the isolation of feline IgE was achieved and an ELISA test for allergen specific IgE launched Allergy testing
  • With food allergy, dermatological signs are indistinguishable from those of atopic dermatitis Skin: atopic dermatitis. In 33% of cases, lesions are restricted to the head and neck.
  • Gastrointestinal signs (chronic and intermittent diarrhea, and/or vomiting) may occur alone or in conjunction with dermatological signs.


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  • YTVS is the only laboratory testing for both IgE and IgG in cats.



  • Inter- and intra-assay variability is <15%.
  • High incidence of asymptomatic sensitization so the detection of IgE or IgG to a specific allergen may not be clinically significant.

Predictive value

  • A negative IgE serum titer effectively excludes dietary hypersensitivity to that allergen in test panel.
  • Elevated IgE with a positive provocative challenge test after elimination of signs confirms food allergy.
  • Measurable food allergen-specific IgE is not present in non-food allergic individuals.
  • However, the detection of food allergen-specific IgE may not be clinically relevant to the signs the cat is showing.

Technique (intrinsic) limitations

Results may not accurately predict the allergens causing clinical signs.

  • Significant antibody may be confined to mucosal surface and not present in serum.
  • Usefulness of assay is related to number of allergens included in panel.
  • Standard assay would include panel of 15 foodstuffs encompassing all the major protein and carbohydrate components of standard pet foods.

Result Data

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from VetMedResource and PubMed.
  • ODair H A, Markwell P J & Maskell I E (1996) Investigation into aetiology in a group of cats with suspected allergic disease. Vet Derm 7, 193-202.
  • Wills J & Harvey R (1994) Diagnosis and management of food allergy and intolerances in dogs and cats. Aus Vet J 71 (10), 322-327 PubMed.
  • Stogdale L, Bornzom L, Bland & Berg P (1982) Food allergy in cats. JAAH 18, 188-194.
  • Scott D W Feline dermatology 1970-1978: a monograph food allergy. JAAH 16, 380-81.

Other sources of information

  • Halliwell R E W (2003) Clinical manifestations of feline allergic disease and specific allergic conditions. YTVS Newsletter Autumn 2003.
  • Guilford W G, Markwell P J, Jones B R J, Harte J G & Wills J M (1998) Prevalence and causes of food sensitivity in cats with chronic pruitus, vomiting or diarrhoea. Department Veterinary Clinical Sciences, NZ & Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition.
  • Wills J M & Halliwell R E W (1994) Dietary Sensitivity. In: Waltham Book of Clinical Nutrition. Pergamon. pp 167-188.


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