|Update: October 11, 2010 - On October 9th we had to let Teddy go quite suddenly. He hadn't been feeling well
for about a week and had a lot of health problems since I took him in as a foster, a year and a half ago. Recently
his auto immune system started acting up. His gums got inflamed even though his teeth were good, the vet told
me he was allergic to his own tooth enamel. I upped his allergy medicine dosage and that helped for a while. But
they seemed to be bothering him again last week. Back to the vet and more allergy meds. Then he stopped
eating his normal portions. Normally he loved his food so I was pretty concerned. Back to the vet again and this
time she took blood and gave him an antibiotic shot for what she thought was just a little bug.
While we were waiting for the antibiotic to start working he started eating much less and looking more and more
uncomfortable. I made him special things to eat each day so he'd always have something in his tummy but he
was barely interested. We went back to the vet on Friday because by then the antibiotic should have been
making him feel better. The vet took an x-ray and took me into a quiet room to tell there was fluid in his
abdominal cavity. She thought he might have cancer so she wanted to draw some fluid to send to the lab. But
when she did, we got even more bad news. The vet said that the color and texture of the fluid told her he had
FIP. She was sending it to the lab, but since there's no definitive FIP test, it probably wouldn't tell us much.
The vet told me to take him home and keep an eye on him but I think I knew he was coming home to say
goodbye. Teddy had some pain meds but was still obviously uncomfortable. He didn't sleep well that night, he
didn't want to snuggle like he usually does and he was hunched like he was in pain all night. That look continued
into the morning - he didn't want to walk around and he even moved away from all the food I'd brought in to try to
tempt him. He stopped purring and his eyes looked bad so I called the vet again.
Although FIP is very difficult to diagnose, the vet said that he had so many symptoms that there was just no
doubt. So I made the decision to let him go, I couldn't let him suffer any longer. Rest in peace little Teddy.
How Raw Food Can Help Allergies
By Paula Keriazes
July 25, 2010
I had been fostering for a local rescue group for only a few weeks when they told me about a cat that was
coming into their system. He’d lived with a family but had some health issues that the family couldn’t deal with.
He went to a local kill shelter but the workers there adored him and asked my group to take him out. He went
straight to the vet because he appeared to have a skin issue. The vet kept him for a few weeks but couldn’t
seem to help him so they asked if I would foster him while they looked for someone else to treat him. When he
came to my house and I got a good look at him, I was shocked. His head was covered with scabs and open
sores, he was completely bald on his belly and inner legs and he didn’t even have whiskers!
He was so itchy he had licked and scratched his own skin until it bled. He was the homeliest kitty I’d ever seen.
And this is how our love story began…I called him Bald Kitty. He was on multiple medications, none of which
seemed to helping. He couldn’t go into the adoption center looking the way he did, so he just stayed with me.
Eventually the group was able to locate a veterinary dermatologist and make him an appointment. The
dermatologist reviewed all the tests and did a few more. At the end of the exam while I was talking to her, he
crawled into my arms like a baby and snuggled there quietly while I rocked him. He’d never even sat in my lap
before, never mind cuddled in my arms. I felt another little piece of my heart give way.
|Teddy, pre-raw diet and in
|Teddy, healthy and
adorable in his little shirt!
|I went home to BK and we both grieved for Lance. Poor BK didn’t know where his best friend had gone. He
started asking to go out in the apartment building hallway as if he was looking for him. He cried at night, which
he’d never done before. I knew I had to get another foster in quickly so he would have company. Shortly after
that I got a call from the vet saying that her pets hadn’t adjusted well to fostering and would I consider taking in
Teddy and helping with his skin. She still wasn’t sure it was allergies, but we decided an allergy treatment was
worth a try. I couldn’t resist that sweet face and readily agreed. He showed up with that huge cone – it was so
big he couldn’t see his feet! The poor boy couldn’t even play. I knew I had to come up with something better. So
after a couple of failed experiments I started dressing him in dog shirts and infant size ones with the bottoms cut
off. They fit him fine and he wasn’t able to get to his itchy spots so his skin started healing right away.
During this time I had been doing more and more research into the best treatments for allergy kitties and had
learned a lot about raw food diets. By the time Teddy came to live with us I was starting BK on my first stab at
raw feeding so Teddy joined us. I began with the recipe on catinfo.org. I purchased rabbit ground with bones and
organs (knowing neither of them was allergic to rabbit), supplemented it and froze it in portioned freezer bags.
Both cats of course refused it. So I started putting some in a non-stick frying pan and cooking it just enough to
get a cooked-meat smell happening. All of a sudden everyone was more interested. Although Teddy stayed with
this recipe and eventually got to the point where he would eat it raw, BK graduated to RMB’s – Raw, Meaty
Bones. I was nervous about giving a variety of meats to an allergy kitty but he now eats a rotation of about 6
different protein sources, along with liver, kidney, sweetbreads and chicken necks for bone.
|Teddy had been caught in a TNR trap but was
obviously not feral. However he’d been burned
somehow and had multiple operations to try to repair
his damaged skin. He was living at the vet for months
while he recuperated and was a favorite of the staff.
He came waddling out in a cone that was bigger than
he was and I was immediately struck by his big eyes
and adorable face. It seemed that although he was
recovered from the burns and surgery he had certain
spots on his chest and shoulders that he wouldn’t
stop licking, to the point that they were open wounds.
The vet was beginning to wonder if it was allergies
and she was thinking of fostering him herself.
|Teddy’s allergies seem to have slightly different symptoms from BK
– he has his itchy “hot spots” but also digestive problems. At first I
was feeding him both canned prescription food and the ground raw
and although his skin healed, he vomited a lot and his stool was soft
and always seemed to have traces of blood in it. Eventually I
stopped the canned food completely and his stool seemed to clear
up overnight. Now that he’s on raw only, his stool is small, dry and
has no odor. Both cats have been able to taper off the meds slightly
as well. It’s a continuous journey for us, but I'm lucky to have two of
the greatest little companions along for the ride.
See also www.ibdkitties.net/rawinstructions.html for instructions on
feeding raw. If you'd like to join our support group click here:
|Copyright © IBD Kitties 2008-2013, all rights reserved
|All the test results came back; he didn’t have fleas or mites. There was no obvious reason for him to be that
itchy. After eliminating all other possibilities the dermatologist diagnosed him with food allergies and some other
allergic reactions. An indicator that we were dealing with allergies was the fact that he had constant ear
problems. Whether bacterial or yeast infections, these ear problems often go hand in hand with allergies. There
is blood testing available for allergies but this dermatologist doesn’t think it’s reliable. However, we do know
kitties that have benefited from the test so it’s worth pursuing.
Now that it was time for treatment, we discontinued all his meds, including the steroids he’d been on. We put him
in a soft cone to protect his skin and we began the first step of allergy treatment; the elimination diet. An
elimination diet consists of removing all sources of the old food and switching to a single, novel protein source. In
Bald Kitty’s case, he was given Hill’s prescription rabbit and green pea. (Note: I was new to both cats and
fostering and had no idea that this diet is not ideal and that I had other options. I, like many others, was just
following instructions.) The idea behind an elimination diet is simple. Cats are not allergic to foods they’ve never
had before. They become allergic to things already in their diets. So by giving them a new protein source, and
only that protein source you are removing the offending protein completely. It’s not always that easy though. You
can’t give treats, no matter how much begging goes on. If you have other cats in the house the allergy cat has to
eat separately. And you have to keep the cat on this diet strictly for 8-12 weeks because it takes that long for
allergens to clear their systems.
I started to see improvement about 2 months in and I was able to remove the cone. Although there was still
scratching and licking, it wasn’t as extreme as before. The dermatologist was very pleased with his progress. As
time went on and it became clear that food wasn’t the only culprit causing Bald Kitty’s itchy reactions, the doctor
pulled out the next weapon in her arsenal; Atopica. Atopica is an immune suppressant (generic name
Cyclosporine) that is commonly prescribed for dogs with skin problems. It’s off-label for cats but this
dermatologist had good results when she prescribed it for other kitties. For us, it was like magic, within a week
the itching stopped. Soon afterwards we had to make a name change. Bald Kitty was now BK.
Eventually BK stopped eating the prescription food – he’d had enough. The dermatologist didn’t want him on a
different protein source yet so I had the brilliant idea of cooking him fresh rabbit. I must have hit 10 upscale
grocery stores, butchers and specialty stores before I found one that sold whole, fresh rabbits. $40 later I started
cooking. I still didn’t know much about cat nutrition so I threw it in the oven, de-boned it, chopped it up and put it
on top of BK’s food to get him to eat. It worked! For about 2 months. Then even the cooked rabbit wasn’t good
enough. I started doing research until I found Natural Balance Limited Ingredient cans. I didn’t think BK had a lot
of venison in his life and there was nothing obviously allergenic in the ingredients so we switched to the
venison/green pea flavor. BK was happy again and mommy could relax.
As BK and I traveled this long, winding road together I couldn’t help but be in awe of him. He never complained,
no matter how uncomfortable he must have been, he always kept his even-keeled, fun personality. He never
minded fosters constantly coming into the house – never once hissed at anyone. He was curious about
everything and loved everyone. How could I not fall in love? We made it official about 5 months after he arrived
when I signed his adoption papers.
After my success with BK and a lot of research about his condition, I put the word out to the rescue that I would
be interested in fostering any other allergy kitties they came across. Soon after they asked me to meet Lance.
Lance was an older, chubby tabby. He had a very sweet disposition but always had skin issues and had been in
the system for almost his entire life because no one would adopt a kitty with lesions like he had. I was happy to
take him in and start the process again: A consultation with the dermatologist, soft cone so he could heal,
elimination diet to settle his skin and Atopica to suppress additional allergens. In three months Lance was like a
new kitty. He’d slimmed down, he was out of the cone and had stopped itching, he’d also become best friends
with BK and we were both crazy about him. One of my favorite memories of Lance was his happiness at finding a
stuffed mouse, carrying it into the bedroom while meowing wildly (and with his mouth full) and dropping it on the
bed at my feet. He found such joy in giving. I think we could all learn a lesson from him.
I woke up one morning shortly after to find that Lance had died in his sleep. I took his body to his vet to see if she
could explain what had happened. She said he’d had a heart murmur and had probably thrown a clot. The fact
that he died peacefully was of some comfort. Lance’s vet was impressed with how well he looked and how far he
had come with his allergy treatments and asked if I wanted to meet a homeless kitty who was staying there for
treatment. His name was Teddy McLovin’.