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Chronically itchy boy

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by YoHoSebastian, Oct 30, 2019.


  1. YoHoSebastian

    YoHoSebastian PetForums Newbie

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    Hi everyone. I'm new here and joined because I'm absolutely at my wit's end here and hoping that hearing from others might help.
    A few months ago we adopted a lovely tabby named Sebastian. He has FIV, which we've had no issues with in itself, but since adopting him we've discovered that he has allergies that make him very itchy and scabby.
    When this all first started we got him skin tested and tried reducing exposure to things, which was easy enough as he's an indoor cat. Unfortunately this didn't work and the vet has said that environment changes are unlikely to resolve this and wants to go at it medically. He's also on a hydrolysed food diet so this definitely isn't caused by what he's eating.
    Because of his FIV he can't take certain medications so we're trying different things with the vet. At the moment he's started an immunotherapy treatment, which might help (50% success in cats) but not for a few months. In the meantime he is taking short bursts of steroids once a week, as they might aggravate the FIV so he can't take them too much. If the immunotherapy doesn't work, he'll just have to take the steroids for life, which will shorten his lifespan but at least he'll be more comfortable.
    He's been wearing the cone of shame for over 3 months now. He's very used to it and it seems he's adjusted to it as part of his life but it's still not ideal. We tried one of those suits you can get but he hates it and kept wrangling out of it. When out of the cone, he will demolish his skin and not pay any attention to anything apart from biting at himself or food.

    Here's the issue. When I last spoke to the vet, he set the current steroid plan as 3 days on tablets, one week off, and said to try extending the week if ever possible. It's his first day off tablets today and when I tried taking his cone off this morning he was biting at himself just like always. I tried to wait a few minutes, gave him some snacks, and have him cuddles, in the hopes that it wasn't so much about the itch but more about finally being able to reach bits of himself. Even after all that though it was clear that he's just as itchy as ever.
    In terms of practicalities of his care I'm fine - we have a brilliant specialist working with us. What is really getting to me is that the steroids might not be enough. The vet has told me that if the immunotherapy doesn't work and he has to be on steroids forever and reduce his lifespan we are at least sure that the steroids will work. But now I'm so worried they won't. Apart from the fact that we've spent thousands of pounds and months of time on this and he's literally in the same situation as if we'd just put him in a cone and done nothing else, what I'm really worried about is my boy living the rest of him life in a cone or suit of some kind. Has this ever happened to anyone? Is it a thing? It's just that we are running out of things to try and I don't know what happens when we do and nothing's worked.
     
    #1 YoHoSebastian, Oct 30, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
  2. buffie

    buffie Mentored by Meeko

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    I'm so sorry to read that poor Sebastian is having such a rough time of it.
    I'm no expert in food intolerances but when we were trying to eliminate what was causing my lads IBD we went down the Hydrolysed Protein route which didn't help but what was more interesting was the fact that any part of the hydrolysed food could also have been a trigger .
    Which food is it that has been tried?
    Hopefully someone with a bit more experience in food intolerance will be along soon so keep checking back.
     
    TriTri and Lurcherlad like this.
  3. buffie

    buffie Mentored by Meeko

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    Just bumping this so it doesn't drop of the radar............
     
  4. Gallifreyangirl

    Gallifreyangirl PetForums VIP

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    @chillminx can you help with your great food intolerance recommendations.
     
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  5. buffie

    buffie Mentored by Meeko

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    Another bump.............
    No idea why this has not been picked up by any of the forums experienced members in food intolerance :confused:
     
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  6. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hi @YoHoSebastian and welcome :)

    I am so sorry to hear poor Sebastian is having such problems with his skin. Which areas of the body does he over-groom?

    From what you have said I wouldn't rule out a food allergy. Hydrolised protein diets do not always resolve food allergies. One of my own cats had chronic dermatitis which was not helped by a hydrolised diet and was only resolved by putting him on an elimination diet using a novel protein.

    My suggestion would be to put Sebastian on an elimination diet for 10 weeks, feeding him a meat protein he has never eaten before. Nothing else except water. There is a pinned thread on these Boards giving details of how to carry out an elimination diet and where to buy the single protein foods.

    https://www.petforums.co.uk/threads/elimination-diets.509821/

    You mentioned that Sebastian is currently on immunotherapy treatment - do you mean Atopica/Cyclosporin? If so, it will not be worth carrying out an elimination diet while he is on this medicine as the results would be inconclusive. Ideally he needs to be off steroids for a month and have finished the course of Atopica/Cyclosporin.

    This is not to say that you can't feed him a novel protein diet, You can do so, but conducting a full elimination diet would be unadvisable while his immune response is suppressed by drugs.

    I worry about having Sebastian in a cone all the time, as wearing a cone is very stressful for a cat. Apart from interfering with his normal physical movement it also prevents him exhibiting essential grooming behaviour. The fact he starts biting at himself as soon as you remove the cone could be an indication of how frustrated he feels at not being allowed to groom when he needs to. Cats use grooming as a de-stressor, as well as for coat and skin maintenance. .

    Have you tried managing the over-grooming with a calming supplement such as Yucalm, or Zylkene ? (Both these are available online from Pets at Home, Amazon or Pet Pharmacies - or you can buy them from the vet). I am not promising this would stop the over grooming completely, but may help reduce it.

    Or have you tried (with the approval of your vet) antihistamines for him ? (Piriton is the usual one given to cats). This would of course not address the cause of the itching as such, but at least would provide comfort to the fellow while the cause of the itching continues to be investigated.
     
    sandy-cat, Gallifreyangirl and buffie like this.
  7. Pepperpots

    Pepperpots PetForums Senior

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    I’m another who had a cat who was made worse by the hydrolysed food, rather than better. My current itchy boy does best on raw. Any commercial cat food and he starts scratching. However, it’s different for all. I’d probably go for a single protein wet cat food (something like Cats Finefood kangaroo). It’s a long game though - takes about 8 weeks before you know if it’s ok. Good luck!

    It’s early days with the meds. I had a cat that did very well on atopica and a special diet, but it took about 6 weeks for even a small improvement.

    I wouldn’t add any supplements at the moment, as you want to limit what’s going in as much as possible, so you can pinpoint what’s causing the reaction. I’d also cut out the snacks you said you give him.
     
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