Long story condensed to bullet points. Sorry its so long, but please weigh in with any suggestions or advice you may have!
-Found kitten Oct. 7. Starved and covered in fleas, weighed 1.5lbs, approximately 12-14 weeks old. Vet said she should have weighed at least 3 pounds.
-Start her on both Wellness canned and dry kitten food. Diarrhea within a few days, goes on medication for a week. Doubles her weight in 2 weeks, but has soft stool even after finishing medication.
-Put her on Taste of the Wild dry, Innova canned. Perfect stool, gains weight steadily, looks great.
-End of November, after month on new food, tears hole in her neck scratching. Has picked at her armpits and forelegs as well. Goes to the vet, has some funk in her ears, gets them cleaned out and goes on antibiotics. Prednisone started for itchiness. No sign of fleas, is on monthly preventative dose.
-Week later, goes into heat. Have to stop the prednisone for a week to get her spayed, cannot start it again for another week afterward. Put her on Chlor-trimeton antihistamine in the meantime, because she is shaking her head and picking at herself again. No sign of ear infection, ears look great.
-Decide to try food trial to see if we can figure out what she is allergic to. Switch to new protein source of dry NZ lamb & mussel. Supposed to be on it for 4-6 weeks. Eats that for almost two weeks, looks great, coat gleaming but still moderately itchy even on Chlor-Trimeton.
-Then last weekend eats the ribbons off her cat toy. Vomits for two days until she brings one back up, is given subcutaneous fluids for dehydration. Vet recommends boiled chicken for a few days to help settle her stomach. Food trial & Chlor-trimeton halted, she thinks chicken is best thing she's ever had. Then she tears another new hole in her neck, and is completely itching like mad. No idea if chicken is the allergy, or whether it was stopping the antihistamine and flaring up in response to an environmental allergy.
-Stop chicken immediately, back on Chlor-trimeton and NZ lamb/mussel. She refused to eat the NZ food any longer, and proved her point by throwing it up on Tuesday after only picking at it for the previous few days.
-Now on yet another new food for starting food trial over again. EVO 95% beef canned. She seems to be madly in love with it, and will gobble down as much as I will let her have. Still on Chlor-trimeton, still itchy but getting better after being back on the pills for almost a week.
She is now at approximately 6 months of age, and weighs 4.5lbs. Coat looks great, ears great, no fleas. She just wants to pick at her chest and forelegs even through the Chlor-trimeton. And when her allergy flares, she carves a hole in her neck.
Wondering whether to put her back on Prednisone for another week or two to see if I can banish itchiness entirely while I wait to see if new food works?
Kitty dermatologist has been recommended, but at $160 just for a consult I'd rather hold off and try the food trial first before pulling blood.
I haven't tried the Feliway, but will definitely consider it. At this point, what's another $20-$30?
I switched her litter a few weeks back as well- I went from corn-based to wheat-based, no real scent to it. She has stayed at a friends house twice, and allergies appear to be same there as here. Friend has carpet, I don't. She has to use litter box there, but goes outside here (litter box is available if needed, but she rarely ever uses it). Friend uses different detergent than I do.....There doesn't appear to be a common denominator, unless its something ridiculous, like dust mites. Which, with my luck.....
No other pets, but on occasion I do have dogs here.
Are you willing to try a BARF diet and take her totally off all meds? That is where I would go next. With one cat the work would be minimal, and you would save vast amounts of money!
My sister has two 'petstore' yorkies, both of which have suffered from one ailment after another since the day she brought them home. The little female is also an 'itcher' and would have hotspots so badly that she was bleeding in places. Sis took her to dermatologists/specialists du jour for several years but no relief. Finally, when the money ran out, she had to stop the Chinese herbs, the steroids and the 'special food' and concentrated on diet only. She feeds the dehydrated dog food now from The Honest Kitchen (www.TheHonestKitchen.com) and Dolly's skin has cleared completely.
There is dehydrated catfood also...Prowl...and you can just feed it rehydrated, or mix it with raw food, such as rabbit, chicken. OR, you could just switch the kitten over to pure raw food, something I had done for my cats in an attempt to force them all to live forever. I have 8 cats and every one is DISGUSTINGLY healthy.
We had a cat who we found beside a riverbank...half drowned and flea infested, and certainly no where near the age to leave his mom...no doubt somebody had thrown the kittens in the river in a case of 'late-term abortion'. Anyway, Spooky lives for 14 years...14 miserable years...fighting hotspots that seemed to start at his neck and migrate to any creases in his skin. I tried every remedy offered by my vets, only to see the outbreaks increase as he grew older. He finally died after an outbreak became infected and his immune system totally shut down. He basically died of a cold.
I began researching feline food allergies, began feeding 'good' catfood long before he died, but he never seemed to be able to catch back up.
Now I feed raw as much as I can, although it is an uphill battle with a few of my cats. Those that eat it have excellent vet visits...and NO illnesses.
I would be happy to try any sort of diet, raw or otherwise, but I'm limited by not having a freezer. I live in a tiny studio with a mini-fridge, which will keep ice frozen but not anything else. I don't have any experience with feeding raw- could I buy a week's worth at a time and keep it in the fridge, or does it have to be frozen?
I have a cat with similar symptoms, and would be interested in anyone's ideas on this. I have 10 cats, all eating canned cat food at night, and dry 9 lives uti safe formula during the day. Only one cat is having issues.
Are you 100% sure the scratching is allergy-related? We had a kitty that had similar issues. She would scratch/chew bald spots and sores in some spots. We went through the whole allergic dermatitis dance without permanent relief. Turns out, it was an anxiety issue. Little bit of kitty valium, and the scratching was eliminated.
We did have to do a final course of prednisone to help with the itching as existing spots healed, but weaned her off that in fairly short order.
Are you 100% sure the scratching is allergy-related?
Unfortunately I'm not sure of anything with this little girl. She did first start chewing at herself when she stayed at my friends house for the first time, but waited until several days after she got home to gouge the hole in her neck. She was just there again for 2 weeks over the holidays, and she seemed to be settled in just fine. Happy to see me and ready to play when I came to visit her, but not worried about being there like she was over Thanksgiving. Given that the itchiness continues even while home with me, it makes me think that it probably isn't anxiety related. But anything is possible at this point. Could be food, could be environmental, could be anxiety... Who knows!
The only other strange new behavior started when she went into heat unexpectedly early- she now shreds paper, paper towels and Kleenex if she can get to it. She also ate the ribbons off a toy that she previously showed zero interest in, and has eaten the tail off a toy mouse, and wants to chew the mouse up now. No clue if its related or not- she never did it before going into heat, and it hasn't abated since being spayed (1 month ago). Perhaps I can add Pica to the list of crazy problems she has....
I feel my cat's compulsive grooming and scratching is anxiety related. I've taken her to the vet, who said it was a flea allergy. She's on monthly Frontline, so I don't see an issue there! She was abandoned by her cat mom at an early age, and I had a previous cat that I hand raised from a 2 week old.....cats abandoned by their Moms, in my experience, are never really "normal" psychologically. I know neither of mine have been.