Itchy kitty
March 11, 2011 3:54 PM   Subscribe

I need a step-by-step plan to tackle my kitty's allergies.

I adopted a 7-year-old cat a month ago and she started scratching her ears and chin a week after arriving to the point of scabbing and her lower lip seemed swollen. The vet gave her a treatment with Revolution, put an e collar on her, and suggested switching her from her chicken-based diet. There was no change with the Revolution.

She only started eating chicken-based food with me because for some reason she happily ate it up after a day and a half of refusing to eat her fish-based food - what she ate before with her foster mom. I've since managed to get her back on the fish-based food, which is a combination of grain-free dry and grain-free canned.

I started with the dry when I switched and within a couple of days I noticed her lower lip wasn't as swollen, and she wasn't attempting to scratch as much as the first day after the vet's. It could have just been my imagination. I then managed to get to the store that sells her canned and after a couple of tries she started eating that too.

Now, a few days of being on both the canned and the dry she's trying to scratch at her ears through the e collar and is shaking her head. She's also has a tiny bit of a runny nose and a little bit of congestion. When she first arrived she developed an upper respiratory infection, which seemed to have cleared up with antibiotics.

Could she be allergic to the canned food? Or could it be the e collar itself since it's plastic and she's been licking it? Should I try benadryl? The vet suggested 2.5 mg of cetirizine, which doesn't seem to do anything. I'm probably expecting results far too quickly, but basically, I need a strategy so my kitty can be allergy free. Thanks!

Sorry no pictures! Don't want to worry her foster mom.
posted by waterandrock to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would cut the canned food out completely for a week to start. Keep a daily record so that you have an idea of whether there is a change or not.

If you want to go whole hog on it, have your vet give you Hill's z/d, which is low allergen. You can use that to create a baseline (if she does have food allergies) and add foods in slowly to determine where the sensitivity may lie.
posted by bolognius maximus at 4:02 PM on March 11, 2011

We've got an elderly cat that started suffering from allergies a few years ago. We tried a lot of stuff. The vet put him on a limited-ingredient diet (Royal Canin lamb & pea, I think), to rule out food allergies. Didn't really help.

We eventually put him on prednisone, which did the trick. Unfortunately, that's not considered a viable long-term treatment. Since he'x very old anyhow, and it was the only thing that gave him relief, we decided keeping him on it was the lesser of known evils.
posted by adamrice at 4:16 PM on March 11, 2011

If the cat has a reaction that she's continuing to inflame (that is, she gets a rxn, scratches, which inflames the skin further, so she scratches more, and so on), prednisone is a likely choice. In general, and this may be old-school, but he's an awesome vet so I'll repeat it here - our vet says in cats, you treat the inflammation and then after that you treat whatever's left.

The Lamb & Pea is a great choice if you're trying to eliminate allergens. Natural Balance has a few like Salmon & Pea and Venison & Pea as well.

I don't know how much you like your vet, but you can always seek a 2nd opinion if he seems out of options/ideas.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:30 PM on March 11, 2011

Why is kitty wearing an e collar? (I feel so dumb asking that. Thanks for indulging me.)

Medieval Maven is right about everything. Go get another opinion and maybe more options.
posted by jbenben at 4:39 PM on March 11, 2011

skip it! you are talking about one of those protective sleeve/collar things to prevent scratching. I thought you meant an electronic collar for dogs. I am so dumb for asking:))
posted by jbenben at 4:42 PM on March 11, 2011

Are you sure that this is a food allergy? One of my cats had identical reactions to a plant that she was getting into when no one was looking. It took me almost a year to figure it out with many visits and expensive medications from the vet.
posted by phytage at 5:03 PM on March 11, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah I worry it's some unidentified substance in my home. But I have no plants, use no fragrances, no harsh chemicals, etc. Of course modern furniture comes with modern chemicals though hopefully the fact that all my furniture is several years old helps.
posted by waterandrock at 5:46 PM on March 11, 2011

Yeah I worry it's some unidentified substance in my home.

Have you considered the litter?
posted by lovermont at 7:05 PM on March 11, 2011

Response by poster: Yes, changed it to an all natural clumping clay from the freebie that came with the cat with the coupon from the rescue organization.
posted by waterandrock at 8:12 PM on March 11, 2011

Do you see any discharge in the ears? Does the skin look scaly or rough? It's possible she's got some yeast overgrowing in her ears. Is the allergic reaction limited to her face? Are there any skin issues on the base of her tail? Any trouble in the litter box? Allergies are tough to figure out so keep your eye out for any problems beyond the obvious itching and swelling on her face.

My cat Toby has allergy problems too. It's mostly controlled by a daily oral antihistamine, hydroxyzine. Before we went to the daily antihistamine, he had a shot of corticosteroid to relieve the worst of his symptoms. Steroids can have a lot of serious side effects. Before your cat gets a steroid shot, it's worth having a conversation about the risks with your vet. That's not said to panic you in any way, but I wish I'd have known the risks before we let Toby get that shot.

To help get this feline thread up to it's required kitty picture quotient, I offer this photo of Toby hogging the remote control.
posted by 26.2 at 9:06 PM on March 11, 2011

I'm so sorry about your cat. Over the past six months I've been having cat health mystery fun too. After lots of tests and worrying, my vet had me put my cat onto a single protein source diet (he's already been grain free for years). It took three months of that just to get his symptoms to stop and blood work close to normal. So just a few days on a different diet may not be enough to show a change, but it is of utmost importance not to give up trying.

Anyway, in my info hunting, I found out that cats are very likely to become allergic to fish, but less likely to become allergic to chicken or veg. With dietary experimentation I figured out that my cat, who hadn't been getting much wet food fish before, turned out to be allergic to salmon, which was part of his dry food (the otherwise good Wellness Core). He is now back to eating everything else but the evil salmon.

Evo makes a grain-free dry food that is chicken and turkey. Weruva makes a wide variety of simple canned foods that are nutritionally complete and tempting to even picky cats. The Natural Balance limited diets are not grain free, but they are very good. I think that they make a duck and green pea, if you really think that it could be chicken. And I think there is a company that makes kangaroo, if you get very desperate.

Final tip: If you can't get your cat to eat, get some Forti-flora from your vet. My princess picky boys would eat anything sprinkled with that stuff.

My favorite site about cat feeding: catinfo

And a picture of my two cats Pookie and Pumpkin together. They each weigh around 18 lbs now, though Pookie was over 20 when this was taken.
posted by monopas at 7:09 PM on March 12, 2011

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