Most times, when people talk about cat allergies, they’re referring to people who are allergic to cats. We, on the other had, have had many experiences with cats having allergies to various things. Here are just a handful of them.
Our first experience with this was with a cat we called Calico. She showed up at the Conservatory with scabs all over her body. The vet guessed that her scabs were all due to allergic responses to various allergies, so we started giving her a limited ingredient food– Hill’s® Prescription Diet® d/d®— for which there are two formulas: green pea & duck and green pea & venison. The idea behind these limited ingredient pet foods is that they do not contain ingredients to which the pets are most likely allergic. For cats, these ingredients are commonly chicken, fish, and wheat. We fed Calico the d/d® for some time before deciding it would be useful to have allergy tests run to see what things exactly she reacted to. It turns out she was allergic to green peas– Poor Calico! So, no more d/d® for her! She was also allergic to dust mites and timothy hay (which was the primary food source of our co-habitating rabbit). We changed the rabbit’s food and tried (with limited success) to dissuade Calico from one of her favorite activities– dusting the bookshelves.
We found that another of our cats, Ashes, also seemed to have allergic reactions. He had licked almost all the fur off of his belly and the backs and insides of his legs. Luckily, by this time, we had found another cat food that has very few ingredients—Authority® Sensitive Solutions. This food has worked well for us for years for cats with allergies, and it worked well with Ashes. But after a while, while most of his fur had grown back, sometimes it seemed like the backs of his legs were still itching him. We use Swheat Scoop® Natural Clumping Multi-Cat Litter for most of our cat litter needs. We hypothesized that, since wheat is a common allergen for cats, perhaps the skin contact with the wheat litter was bothering him. We switched to corn litter for Ashes’ litter box and he has since allowed the fur on the back of his legs to remain there.
When Slinky was young, anytime he ate treats with fish in them or had some of the milk left in the bottom of my cereal bowl, he would have an allergic reaction in the form of red bumps on his ears. That was easy enough to deal with—we simply refrained from giving him fish and milk. Years later, he seems to have outgrown those allergies.
Patches, one of Co-calico’s sons, seems to have developed allergies. About a year ago, we noticed that he was missing most of the fur around his wrists. Although Patches has been living at the Conservatory for several years, he is still very feral. Just looking at him is enough to freak him out, big time, so getting a good look at where exactly he’s missing how much hair is not really possible. It seemed like the problem was getting worse with time so we decided we would try changing his diet and litter. Patches shares living space with 5 other cats (the rest of Co-calico and her family), so it would mean a diet and litter change for the whole gang. There’s no way we would be able to feed Patches separately from the others since we can barely ever look at him, much less take him into a room by himself. So these guys are now all eating Hill’s® Science Diet® Sensitive Stomach & Skin Adult Cat Food – Rice & Egg and we’ve changed their litter from Swheat Scoop® to corn litter. It looks like the change has been successful and that Patches is letting the fur on his wrists grow back.
Microbe seemed to be having similar issues to Patches, except she was removing all the fur from her belly rather than her wrists. Microbe has her own living space (due to an issue to be discussed in a later blog post) so it was easy to make the same changes to her food and litter that we had done with Patches. After a few weeks of eating Hill’s® Science Diet® Sensitive Stomach & Skin Adult Cat Food – Rice & Egg, however, it seemed that Microbe was having issues with constipation. And, indeed, there is not much fiber in that food. So we tried giving her the limited ingredient Hill’s® Prescription Diet® d/d® that had worked well for us in the past with cats who had allergies. Microbe has been on the d/d® for about a month now and seems to be doing great. The fur on her belly has grown back and she seems to be “regular”. So, that brings us full circle for this blog post!