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Ruling out food allergies

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by Ali82, Apr 4, 2011.


  1. Ali82

    Ali82 PetForums Senior

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    I posted a couple of weeks back about a new cat I have who has been displaying some disturbing behaviour notably constant licking, biting, scratching, twitching and tail chasing / mutilating. The vet still appears to think it's stress related considering she has just been rehomed and she is starting on Zylkene today but I'm not totally convinced that's the cause. Watching her it appears to me as though she is constantly itchy and after reading a million things I'm kean to rule out food allergies.

    She first started with the behaviour about 10 days after I got her, for the first 7 days I fed her solely on Royal Canin Siamese which is what she was fed on at the rescue. I then started to get her eating wet food as well so started her on Sheba and gradually mixed in some Grau which I've since tapered out (until she gets better lol) because she wasn't overly keen. Looking back it was probably about 3 or 4 days after she started on the wet food that she started with the symptoms so in my mind it's possible they are related.

    I'm looking for advise on where to go from here really, she isn't a great drinker (I usually mix a little water into her wet food) so I want to feed primarily wet with a bit of dry. I was thinking of starting off feeding Applaws dry, which looking on the ingredients list to my eyes contains little that could cause allergies and is stated as being hypoallergenic (for what that's worth), plus a single flavour of Grau probably chicken (again only the meat and rice which could cause allergies), as that's the meat that's in the Applaws and Royal Canin and seeing how we go from there. Does this seem a sensible starting place or alternatively is there any other foods available from Pets at Home (so I can pick up today) that would be more suitable? Or should I try and convince my vet to try her on one of the Veterinary hypoallergenic diets? But they seem to contain cereals so not sure they are any better to my untrained eye?
     
  2. Tylah

    Tylah PetForums Member

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    Has your vet done a skin test to check for mites on the fur or under the skin?
     
  3. Ali82

    Ali82 PetForums Senior

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    The only checks vet has done so far are your standard visual checks of eyes, skin, checked her temperature and felt stomach etc, as I said she seems relatively convinced it's stress related.

    She was treated with Stronghold, would that not kill mites? On that subject the Vet used by the Rescue Centre I had her from has seen a reaction to Stronghold that caused the exact symptoms my cat has so I haven't ruled that out as the cause (and won't use again in future) but there's nothing I can do about that now other than let it get out of her system.

    I'm currently looking to rule out the food angle because that's all I can think to try.
     
  4. Tylah

    Tylah PetForums Member

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    Sorry i don't know much about it. I just remember when my Guinea Pigs were scratching allot, because they caught a mite from their hay which we used to get from the local farmer, anyhow they all needed injections for it.

    Have you seen this
    Code:
    http://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/cats-and-compulsive-scratching-licking-and-chewing
    It says:
    Most cats are meticulous groomers, but what happens when the behavior goes into overdrive? For a variety of reasons, some cat licking, scratching, and chewing behaviors become compulsive, which can annoy you and damage your pet’s skin and coat.

    If your cat is scratching, licking, or chewing herself compulsively, it is likely you regularly catch her in the act. But if you don’t, your first clue may be the disappearance of your cat’s fur, often in strips along her back or stomach. Cats with self-mutilating behaviors may also cause red, irritated areas called hot spots to form, but they are less likely than dogs to do so.

    Although compulsive cat scratching, licking, or chewing behaviors can develop in any animal, they are more commonly observed in Siamese cats and other Oriental breeds. Female cats are more likely than males to lick, chew, or pull on their fur.

    Because there are a number of medical problems that may result in scratching and licking behaviors, be sure to consult with your veterinarian to help determine the cause and the best course of action.

    Why Do Cats Compulsively Scratch, Lick, or Chew?

    Parasites. Fleas are often the culprits behind compulsive cat scratching or cat licking behaviors. Because cats are excellent groomers, they may actually remove all traces of fleas. If you notice your cat licking his lower back obsessively, with or without scabs on the neck, it is a sign that fleas might be causing the problem. Other parasites, including ticks, mites, and ringworm, can also prompt scratching, licking, or chewing.

    Allergies. Just as some people develop skin irritations in response to certain foods or environmental triggers, cats may have itchy, irritated skin if they are allergic to something in their environment.

    Dry skin. Dry winter air or nutritional inadequacies can contribute to dry, flaky skin that gets your cat started licking or scratching in search of relief.

    Pain. If you notice your cat licking or biting at the same spot over and over again, it could be that he is experiencing pain or discomfort in that area.

    Boredom, anxiety, or compulsive disorder
    . Compulsive cat chewing, scratching, or licking behaviors often develop in cats who are bored, stressed, or anxious. These mental disorders are more likely to occur in indoor cats, which may be due to the fact that they receive less exercise and excitement than outdoor cats. Compulsive disorders often begin when there are changes in a cat’s environment, including a new animal or baby in the house or a move to a new location. Also, behaviors that started in response to a medical problem sometimes persist as compulsions after the condition is resolved.

    Treatment for Your Cat’s Scratching, Licking, and Chewing


    Eliminating parasites. Because it can be difficult to diagnose flea infestation in cats, some veterinarians recommend trying reliable flea control products purchased from a veterinary office for six to eight weeks to see if it reduces the incidence of licking, scratching, or chewing. Similarly, treating mites or other parasites, if present, can eliminate your cat’s discomfort and the problem behaviors.

    Changing foods. Putting cats that are exhibiting compulsive behaviors on a 6-week exclusion diet is a good way to find out whether food allergies are the problem. You may have to try several diets before you find one that works. Veterinarians may also prescribe the addition of certain fatty acids or other nutritional supplements if dry skin is to blame for your cat’s incessant scratching and licking.

    Using medication. Depending on the extent of skin damage your cat has caused by licking, chewing, or scratching, your veterinarian may prescribe the use of steroids, antihistamines, and antibiotics. Additionally, some compulsive cat behaviors caused by psychological factors can be addressed with clomipramine, an anti-anxiety medication, or amitriptyline, which helps fight anxiety and also functions as an antihistamine.

    Addressing anxiety or boredom. If you and your vet determine that there is no physical cause for your pet's behaviors, there are things you can do to improve your cat’s state of mind. Making sure your cat feels safe, loved, and comfortable in your home is important, as is providing adequate stimulation and exercise. You may find that desensitizing your cat by slowly and carefully exposing her to things she fears can be beneficial. Be careful to take baby steps if you try this so as not to overwhelm your cat and make the compulsive licking, scratching or biting worse. Counter-conditioning, by training your cat to associate something pleasurable, like a treat, with something he fears may also help reduce stress and anxiety. Many times, boredom licking (also known as psychogenic alopecia) is improved by adding another cat or pet. But, there is always the risk that the second cat could be a new stress in your pet's environment that could make the hair loss worse.
     
  5. hobbs2004

    hobbs2004 PetForums VIP

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    TBH, if she was ok on the RC Siamese before you introduced her to wet food and you suspect that it might be the wet food then I would change her back to the RC Siamese pronto. If you are correct, then you should see a change within the next 4 weeks. At this stage I wouldn't worry about it being dry food and her potentially not drinking enough. Get a fountain, have water bowls etc scattered around the house to encourage her to drink but at the moment the priority is to stop her from itching.

    I am afraid, if that doesn't do the trick then I would talk to the vet about doing a proper elimination diet if a dietary sensitivity is the most possible explanation. These aren't easy as it doesn't mean just getting some prescription food, it means finding the actual trigger starting from a protein source that your cat hasn't been exposed before (e.g. horse, venison etc). It is a lengthy process.

    However, it could just be that it is a reaction to something in the Sheba.

    So, for the time being I would put her back on the food she come to you with and not change on to another dry food and see how she does.

    However, as Tylah's post shows the reasons are manifold and it could be an environmental sensitivity (air freshner for example), skin parasites etc. Just remember to be methodological in the changes you make. Trying to do too many things at once can backfire since you will not be able to pinpoint what made the difference if there is a difference.

    Let us know how you get on!
     
  6. Ali82

    Ali82 PetForums Senior

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    Thanks for the info Tylah and hobbs.

    It does make sense to put her back on the Royal Canin considering she was fine on that when we got her so as of this morning she's just on the dry Siamese.

    I was concerened about her drinking because I rarely see or hear her drink and the vet who said it could be a reaction to the Stronghold said to make sure she drinks plenty as one of the cats she had seen with a similar reaction stopped drinking and ended up on a drip! I've ordered a cat mate fountain today so hopefully that may help.

    Now i've just got to figure out how to get her to take the Zylkene because I was told to open it up and pour it in her food which won't really work with biscuits. Nothing's ever easy is it lol.
     
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