Can cats have rice allergy?
by Kacey on February 21, 2011
So what causes cat allergies? Is it because they don’t like rice? Or because they’ve been fed rice-based foods?
In some parts of the world, rice allergies are becoming a big problem in pet cat allergies. But I’m wondering what the scientific evidence is for this?
For example, there is a very recent article in the journal Pediatrics which says:
“There are several cat food brands that have rice as one of their main ingredients. Rice allergy has become a common problem, in which rice proteins cause an immediate allergic reaction.”
I’m wondering whether this article is based on real scientific research or not? And what you think about the suggestion that cats can have an allergy to rice?
Hi there – I have to admit that my background is not in cats but allergies. That’s why I was reading the posts and looking at your site.
This post really got my attention – there are so many ‘common-sense’ articles that I read and then have to think about for days.
The only thing I can tell you is that the article is not based on real research – it’s based on the experiences of some allergy doctors and people who have read their research. It’s one of those articles that sounds very convincing but it’s really based on a gut feeling of someone’s.
I think what they are trying to say is that as pets age and change diet, there is a growing prevalence of allergic problems. Some people will have allergic reactions to some of the foods that they were eating a decade ago, even if that food was not a problem.
And if I were a vet, I’d tell you this: the only reason you’d test a cat for rice allergy is if the cat had some sort of problem that was allergic and I’d want to know what the problem was.
So for the most part, I think you should treat it as an allergy (just like you would treat a dog’s allergic reaction to wheat) but if your cat gets a rash from a rice-based food, or a rice-based product you’re giving them, or if you start seeing problems with their fur, skin or general health when you start to feed them rice-based foods, then you might need to see if there’s another underlying reason.
But in that case, I would want to know what that reason is so that I can figure out a better diet for the cat.
It’s the only allergy that I’ve heard of in cats that I’d say is becoming increasingly more common. And it can be the single most important factor in an allergy, if you get enough of it (like wheat is for dogs).
I am not sure of a study on rice allergies in cats but in human infants there are studies that show rice allergy is very common. I have seen several human parents who think their children have a rice allergy and have had reactions such as a rash and or skin allergy.
In a cat, the only studies I know of in this regard are the study I linked above. I agree it’s a gut feeling of some people who are allergic to rice. That article does make a couple of points that I think are important.
First, it does say that some cats have a problem with rice allergy. Some cats (I think they call this ‘tolerance’) and others will just have a mild allergic reaction and/or not be affected at all.
And the second point it makes is that you don’t know when you’re dealing with a rice allergy until you try to see how your cat responds. You may think that the cat isn’t having any issues eating a rice-based food and then suddenly start having problems.
So I agree, if you think your cat is having an allergic reaction to a rice-based food you may want to consider looking for an alternative.
Thanks so much for the info – very interesting. I just wonder whether it’s the rice itself or a protein in the rice that’s causing the problem.
I’m guessing that the studies on this are mainly based on testing cats that are eating a rice-based food for the first time. So if you’ve given your cat a rice-based food for a while and they don’t seem to have any problems, is it possible that a rice allergy doesn’t occur for a while?
I’m not saying that’s true but I’ve read a lot about allergies and they’re not very common, so I don’t know why we should expect them to be. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s a different type of protein that is causing the reaction or if it’s just that it’s very rare to see it.
Hi Kacey, thanks for asking. I’m not sure whether the cat in that study would have been exposed to rice before or whether it was just eating the new food for the first time. I did think that maybe it was a cat who hadn’t eaten rice for a long time who would get a reaction. But maybe there are other factors, too.
In fact, in a number of studies, cats who had just been switched to rice-based diets had a reaction that lasted for a number of months. So I think the answer is yes – it’s possible your cat isn’t having any problems with rice because they’ve had the food for a while.
I’m wondering whether it is a similar protein to the one that causes a wheat allergy in people (gluten), or something else. But like you, I don’t know anything about it.
Hi, I’m curious if any of you have heard of a pet food recall that was