After two years of working with Vets and Dermatologists in our area, we had to move yet again. Unfortunately, this meant that we would have to start the search for a treatment for Beavis’ allergies with a new Vet. We found a veterinary hospital that specialized in treating cats and had Beavis’ records transferred to them. After reviewing his records (and checking and treating him for fleas…which had still not been found on him) they decided that we should do allergy testing to try to identify what Beavis was allergic to. The Vet sedated Beavis and drew blood to send off for testing. In the meantime, they put Beavis on Neoral (or its generic Cyclosporine) once a day to see if it would provide some immediate relief and give better results than the steroids. The allergy tests came back negative, showing no reactivity to any of the allergens tested, but on the upside, Cyclosporine (which you have to buy from a pharmacy-picture yourself at your local pharmacy picking up a prescription for “cat insert your last name”) apparently tastes pretty good. Beavis will eat it like it’s a treat, which is a nice change for all of us, considering our experiences with some of his previous meds.
After the allergy tests, Beavis continued his Cyclosporine and was referred to an Animal Dermatologist (his 2nd) for more testing. The Vet also sent him home with a soft collar to keep him from being able to lick himself, and suggested that he start medicated lyme-sulfur dips to treat for mites. Apparently, there are some mites that are very rarely seen, and are most often found through treatment. That is, if the cat has an itching problem, they treat for the mites. If the problem goes away, it means the cat had mites. A quick note about medicated lyme-sulfur dips…they stink, literally. When Beavis came home, not only did he smell bad, but so did everything he touched. If you end up having to do this with your pet, be sure to stock up on Febreze and air fresheners. Beavis had to have these dips every 5-7 days for full month. That’s six dips in 30 days! The folks at the Vet’s office began to see Beavis so much that they affectionately referred to him as the “poor allergy kitty.” In the meantime, we took Beavis to the Dermatologist where they did another exam and skin scrape. Once again they ruled out flea allergies. They didn’t find any mites, but did notice some structures under the microscope that they thought might be pollen. The Dermatologist was also concerned about the sores Beavis had caused with his constant licking and scratching, so she prescribed an antibiotic to prevent infection. With negative results on the test for mites, Beavis completed his lyme-sulfur dips, continued his Cyclosporine, and began a new diet of Wellness cat food.
After about a month, there was a noticeable difference in Beavis’ symptoms. His scratching and licking had decreased to a normal level of grooming behaviors (without the use of the collar). In addition, his fur was beginning to grow back and his coat was becoming very full and shiny. We began to decrease the amount of Cyclosporine he was taking. While it has been used in dogs for awhile, Cyclosporine is a relatively new treatment for cats. Because of this we wanted to see if we could ween him off it, or at what level he needed it to manage his symptoms. Working with his Vet, we gradually decreased his dosage from every day, to every other day, and then finally to twice a week. Any less than that and the sores and licking behaviors began to reappear. Beavis has been on the Cyclosporine for about 2 ½ years and his allergies have been well managed with the combination of the medication and the Wellness diet. We have to do yearly blood tests to check for any effects of the long-term use of the Cyclosporine, because it so new for cats. Otherwise he is down to yearly wellness exams for his shots and a refill of meds.
However, all the trips to the Vet and Dermatologist offices have taken a toll on Beavis. Before he began to have problems with allergies, he had been a breeze to take to the Vet. We would open his carrier and he would walk out and quietly sit on the table until the Vet was done. Gradually he began to get more and more stressed by visits to the Vet. This progressed to the point where he began to refuse to come out of his carrier. Now, when we take him out of his carrier, he fights anyone that comes near like his life depends on it. At home, he is a very friendly cat that loves to greet people at the door, but in the Vet’s office, it’s a completely different story. They have to use gas to sedate him, just to do an annual exam. The same folks that had sympathetically referred to him as the “poor allergy kitty” now know him as the “crazy cat.” While we still work with this Vet for all of Beavis’ major medical issues, they recently referred a local Vet who specializes in cats, and makes “house calls.” While we have only used the in-home visit approach once, it appeared to be somewhat successful. For animals that have been through as much as Beavis has, we think the in-home visit is less stressful.