This is the story of our quest to diagnose and treat our cat Beavis’ allergies. We hope that our story, the numerous steps we went through to find a way to manage Beavis’ allergies, and the links provided will help others treat their pet.
The Beginning of Allergies
Beavis’ allergies began as a single red sore on his stomach. At first we thought he may have injured himself (he’s one of the clumsiest cats we’ve ever seen), but shortly after the first sore appeared, we moved from the north to the south and the number of sores began to increase. Along with the sores, came nearly constant licking. Beavis would sit in the floor and lick area after area of his body nonstop. So, we loaded him up and took him to our new vet who examined him for fleas. After finding none, he promptly diagnosed allergies, suggested Prescription Diet Z/D food, and gave Beavis the first steroid shot of his life. The results were almost immediate. Beavis quit licking and his skin started to clear up. About a month and a half later the sores and the licking came back, so we went back to the vet and got another steroid shot.
The steroid shots continued to work, but the food did not seem to be effective. Food is a common cause of cat allergies, but it didn’t look like food alone was the issue for Beavis. He began to need the shots more often. At first it was every other month, but eventually, he got to where he needed another shot every month. Around that time we moved to another city. While we didn’t realize it at the time, it meant that we would have to start over with a brand new Vet.
What we didn’t know when we moved was that one of the most common causes of symptoms similar to Beavis’ is fleas. When we took him in to his new Vet, and briefed him on Beavis’ history with allergies, the first thing he did was check for fleas (by the way, Beavis is an only cat who stays indoors all the time, so his exposure to fleas is minimal-unless we bring them in. However, no one has ever found a single flea on him). After finding no evidence of fleas, the new Vet diagnosed him with Feline Miliary Dermatitis due to allergies, and self-inflected alopecia caused by Beavis’ constant licking and scratching. The Vet gave him a steroid shot and discussed the possibility of food as the cause of his allergies. He suggested that we try the Prescription Diet Z/D again, so we gave it another shot. A month later, we were back at the Vet for another shot. Again, Beavis began to need the shots every 3-4 weeks. It appeared that he was developing a resistance to the steroid and thus required it more frequently. Eventually, the Vet decided Beavis needed the shots too often so he referred us to an Animal Dermatologist for testing. (It’s important to note that during this time, Beavis’ behavior was changing. He was just acting crazy…he had understandably become a little cranky and would alternate between snapping at people and running around the house for no reason.)
The Dermatologist first checked for fleas, but didn’t find any. Next he performed a skin scrape and Wood’s light exam to test for mites. While the Dermatologist did not find any mites, he informed us that the tests only find mites on cats that have them about a third of the time. The Dermatologist gave Beavis a Depomedrol (steroid) shot for his immediate allergy problems and prescribed Amitryptilin (a pill used to treat obsessive behaviors in cats) to help with the constant licking. The Amitryptilin was also used to try to increase the time between steroid shots and to ensure that Beavis’ wasn’t over grooming out of obsessive habit rather than because of allergies. In addition to the Amitryptilin Beavis’ Vet put him on Prednisone (a steroid, in pill form) to try to help manage his symptoms. While neither of the medications seemed to help much with Beavis’ symptoms, we did learn some fun facts about the combination of these meds and cats.
- Giving a pill to any cat is not fun, but after awhile, a crafty cat will become quite adept at “cheeking” the pills and spitting them out while frantically running throughout the house; leaving you to crawl on the carpet in search of the now soggy pill before attempting the process all over again.
- Cats have excellent powers of detection, and no amount of hiding, grinding, or altering a pill with/in food can trick a determined cat into taking a pill it doesn’t want to take.
- When a 14lb cat and a 120 lb person fight over a pill, the cat may end up taking it, but the person is the one that ends up bleeding.
- When a cat is given a pill that doesn’t taste very good, it foams at the mouth.