Cat food allergies really starting to wear me down :(

Richard2121

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I am basically at my wits end with one of my 4 cats, Daniel, who is a 1 year old, healthy male cat (domestic short hair). We love him to death and really want to narrow down what is causing his food allergy symptoms but time is our worst enemy. We seem to get the symptoms under control fairly quickly with use of steroids (per vet recommendation). But after a month or two of the steroids when we have made dietary adjustments the symptoms slowly come back after 2-3 weeks.

We feed him an exclusively wet food diet of the following:
I and Love and You Beef Pate
I and Love and You Rabbit Pate
Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Rabbit Pate

Before people recommend higher-end brands, he won't touch them. I did food trials with basically every brand you can think of including Koha, Rawz, Ziwi Peak, Instinct, Hound & Gatos, Commercial Raw diets, and the list goes on. He likes basically none of the flavors or consistencies of these brands. And even when he does like one, he only eats the food for a few cans and then he stops enjoying it. I have been able to get him on a fairly limited diet with the above brands/flavors and he eats them every single time I put them down.

His symptoms keep coming back and we have been dealing with this for about 6 months now. We treat the symptoms to keep him comfortable but I feel obligated to take him off the meds after an extended period of time so we can check and see if the symptoms are recurrent and if his body is still reacting to something. I am new to this. My other 4 cats had health issues growing up but they are all just over 1 year old and healthy as can be. Daniel? He is a complicated case to crack. Does anyone have any insight they can share? I am working directly with a very trusted vet but I also need to be actively doing my own research. This is all so brand new I feel overwhelmed by the thought of trying to figure this out.
 
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Richard2121

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What are his symptoms? Is it possible that it's not food allergies and he's been misdiagnosed?
Skin problems, including a rash near his ears, rash/scabs that form in his ears, chin acne, inflammation in his paws, and he is a white cat so we can see a very defined "red" ish colored dry discharge that we have to clear from the corner of his eyes periodically and probably more if we continued without steroid treatment for too long.
 

Azazel

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Do they seem to happen right after he eats? I think the timing is important. It's my understanding that allergies occur instantly when one comes into contact with the allergen. Maybe it's not the food that's causing it? What kind of litter are you using?
 
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Richard2121

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Do they seem to happen right after he eats? I think the timing is important. It's my understanding that allergies occur instantly when one comes into contact with the allergen. Maybe it's not the food that's causing it? What kind of litter are you using?
The litter is just a basic unscented (Chewy Frisco Brand) multi-cat clumping litter and he seems fine with his litter box usage! This all started to develop shortly after he hit 8-9 months which is a common age for food allergies to begin showing up symptomatically. He was put on steroids fairly quickly once his symptoms became more defined where we noticed and became concerned. I would imagine its a sort of reaction to something that cannot really be stopped without steroid/antibiotic intervention. That is the only way we have been able to keep his symptoms at bay. But once we stop the steroids and they get a chance to leave his system, the same symptoms come back.

We leave access to fresh water from a stainless steel fountain, we use ceramic food bowls that are shallow enough to avoid whisker stress, and I have down countless hours of research early on in my cat ownership to ensure I am providing them with only the best. But this one has stumped me and since the vet cannot be at my home 24/7 it is hard to really narrow down the problem.
 

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I would keep a journal of when the problems occur with detailed notes. I think timing is important for identifying an allergen, whether it be the food or environmental. An easy way to check whether he developed an allergen to the litter is to just switch it to something made out of different material.
 
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Richard2121

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The problems never stop though, once they start, they only get worse they never stop until steroid intervention takes place
 

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Food allergies aren't always immediate or noticable reactions. Sometimes it's the buildup or continued low level reaction causing symptoms. I have some mild food allergies and its rarely a huge or noticable thing. Minor annoyances and if I eat those items too often in a short period of time I get more serious issues (once a full body hive, not fun). Although I think it's technically an intolerance instead of allergy, I've talked to my doctor but they've never done definitive tests.

Anywho..... the main problem I see is that if the problem is still happening and happening constantly it obviously something he is still exposed to. I know it's hard to find a food our cats will eat and agree with their system. But if every time you take him off steroids and the symptoms come back with the same food it's either the food or it's the environment.

Personally, I would do a steroid round and ask the vet for a hydrolyzed protein allergen prescription diet (probably something like fortiflora to make it more appealing, which is a probiotic that smells good basically). Give it a month on the diet without steroids. If the symptoms dont come back you know its food. If they do then its environment.

If it is food. Do a different single food each month to see which food(s) are the problem.

If it is environment you'd want to look into an air purifier for your home first off. Followed by reviewing any chemical products including laundry detergent, fabric softener, floor cleaner etc to figure out what combination works for him.
 

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I bet cheeser cheeser could offer some tips or at least support. Her cat has sensitives to numerous things in cat food and is really finicky too. It's not just proteins a cat can be sensitive to. Fillers, oils, and other things in cat food can cause a sensitivity. Keeping a log of what you've fed and the reaction to it and the ingredients in that food is helpful. That's kind of how the cat food ingredient chart got started.
 

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Sorry for the delay in responding to your post, but RL has been getting the better of me lately. :wink:

Bless your heart, and Daniel's. *hugs you both*

I don't know how much help I can be, but as LTS3 LTS3 said, we have some experience with this sort of thing.

One of our cats is FIV+, and can't have steroids when his food/flea/environmental allergies go haywire because it would further depress his already fragile immune system. Then when he can't stop itching, he scratches himself raw and develops awful antibiotic-resistant staph infections that he has trouble fighting off. So we've had to learn by trial and error which ingredients cause which symptoms to try to avoid that vicious cycle.

We were told that it can take up to three months to figure out if a cat is allergic or sensitive to a particular ingredient. But given the severity of Buddy's symptoms and his propensity for developing such severe infections, I needed to fast track that a bit, especially since prescription foods weren't an option for us because of some of Buddy's other health issues. I did some research re: common food allergy triggers, and created a spreadsheet to figure out which foods might be "safe" and which ones I might want to avoid. If he showed signs of improvement, we continued with what we were doing. If not, then we kept eliminating stuff until he finally seemed to turn a corner. Then after he had stabilized for a while, we'd gradually reintroduce things back into his diet to see if it caused a reaction. Like LTS3 LTS3 said, that's how the wet cat food ingredient chart that we put together got started, because I needed to know which foods contained which potential problem ingredients.

We also keep a log book to keep track of what goes in and what goes out. We write down things like what Buddy ate, about how much he ate, as well as any symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, itchiness, rashes, etc., and when we noticed them. That helps us to identify possible cause and effect. For example, we've learned that chicken makes his ears yeasty and causes oily black gunk to develop around his nails and paw pads, shellfish makes his face itchy, turkey makes him throw up, etc. I also keep track of environmental type stuff, like when we washed his bedding, note if our usual laundry detergent has been "improved upon", when we change filters, if anyone came to visit and wore anything that could have triggered a reaction, like my cousin who is insanely fond of Axe products!

We've also had some success with OTC meds and supplements, with our vet's blessing, to help quiet his immune system since he can't have steroids. We've found Zyrtec to be helpful, as well as supplements to help modulate his immune system, such as lactoferrin or transfer factor.

And sometimes it has turned out that Buddy's problems weren't allergies at all. The chronic chin acne that kept getting inflamed and infected was because he just wasn't able to keep his chin clean enough, and a daily cleaning with a child's toothbrush and a tiny dab of Dawn (original formula) solved the problem. :)

Hang in there, kiddo, and hope you and your vet are able to get this all sorted out, and that Daniel is soon on the mend! And if I can accidentally be of assistance, please let me know, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. We have a family member who is very ill, so sometimes I kinda fall of the face of the earth for a few days. ;)
 
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Richard2121

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Good news for the holidays! We took Daniel in for allergy testing last week Thursday and our vet is SO amazing and already got rushed results back yesterday even with holiday shipping chaos. He did the basic blood environmental allergy test and told us a food allergy test was unlikely to give us the results we were looking for (which I was aware of). Daniel is allergic to some species of mold spores which are naturally in the air just like pollen, he is also allergic to ragweed and some types of grass. So we got some information and potentially do not have to deal with a food allergy at all! The treatment is immunotherapy "drops" that are given orally on a daily basis and are somewhat expensive but WAY worth it. It sounds like any sort of inject-able immunotherapy is out of the question because of the scope of his environmental allergies. He would need multiple injections processed just for his allergy profile. The vet thinks the drops are probably his best bet at successful treatment and eradication of his allergy symptoms. Has anyone else had experience with immunotherapy for cats with environmental allergies?
 

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Hi. Sorry no one has responded yet. By now, you have probably already found this thread (see link below) about the drops you are mentioning. Maybe it will give you some information you don't yet have? My response will also 'bump up' your thread, so hopefully others will have a better chance to see it.
Featured - Allergy alternative
 
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Richard2121

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I picked up the drops this past weekend from my vet, we had time to sit down and chat about the treatment plan and the effectiveness of the immunotherapy drops. Sounds like they are about 60% effective in most patients with environmental allergies. He also mentioned that most of the cats he has prescribed these drops for (customized to each individual patient's allergens) has responded well. Since it is winter here, and considered the off-season for Daniel's allergies, it is a good time to build up the immunotherapy drops in his system before the next allergy season spike. He says this is a great start and is likely to be the treatment Daniel needs. He is only 1 year old and his allergies were mostly mild, the reactions took a long time to build up to the severity they were at before he started steroids. Fortunately, his symptoms have reduced dramatically now that his exposure to the pollen and mold is decreased due to winter being upon us.

I also went ahead and invested in a couple HEPA air purifiers for our apartment. We had one that covered about 350 square feet and I was using it near the litter boxes, but I invested in one more of those medium sized ones for the bedroom area, and I got BlueAir air purifier with a high CADR rating (clean air delivery rate) for in the living room/main area. This is rated for 500-600 square feet and out apartment is 750 square feet total. I figure between the 3 units, I am actually cycling the air pretty efficiently and this will help a lot. I will also try and be more thorough and frequent with my apartment cleaning/dusting so that Daniel can breathe easier.
 
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