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Could My Cat be Allergic to His Food??

Nov 15, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

Recently one of our clinic kitties, “O’Malley”, began vomiting and losing weight. In addition to blood work and fecal testing, we started a food trial on him. We initially saw improvement in both his weight and vomiting, but after 6 months, he began to show signs again which caused us to investigate his “compliance”. Below is a discussion of food trials, including reasons and pitfalls.

Cats can have reactions to food causing gastrointestinal signs (vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, weight loss), sometimes skin signs (excessive licking or scratching, hair loss, skin irritations and lesions on the skin, lips, paw pads or ears), and even respiratory signs (coughing , wheezing, trouble breathing, asthma signs). Interestingly, allergies are not typically associated with sneezing or runny eyes in cats the way we think about it in people.

The reactions can be true allergies (involving an immunologic response) or non-immunologic (food poisoning, reactions to toxins or additives in the food).

Diet trails are recommended by your veterinarian to see if your cat’s clinical signs improve or resolve once the diet is changed. Trials can take anywhere from 2-12 weeks to see response. Blood testing for allergies measures levels of immunoglobulin E (Ig E) and is not accurate for food allergies or sensitivities because not all allergic reactions are mediated by IgE, nor or all food reactions mediated by the immune system.

The diets that are recommended may be single source protein and carbohydrate diets that your cat has never eaten or hydrolyzed protein diets (where the proteins are broken down so tiny as to not cause a reaction). A veterinary therapeutic diet is recommended because over the counter diets are often not pure and can still contain protein sources to which your cat has previously been exposed.

Pitfalls include supplementing your cat with treats or other food sources to which he is still sensitive or allergic to, feeding over the counter diets, cats not wanting the new food, or cross reaction between the protein in the recommended diet and a protein to which your cat is sensitive. Examples might be turkey cross-reacting with a chicken allergy.

You may need to keep your cat indoor to ensure he is not scavenging food at the neighbors’ and you may need to use dry kibble or baked canned of the prescription diet as treats so that visitors will not be tempted to feed your cat non-prescription treats. All medications should be checked to make sure they do not contain proteins in the liquid or capsule that could create reaction. This includes heartworm and flea medications.

In some cases you may chose to cook a homemade diet for your kitty. If so, it is recommended you consult with a board certified veterinary nutritionist to formulate your cat’s diet. Check the acvn.org website to find a nutritionist in your area.

So, what happened to O’Malley? Well, we ruled out clients and staff members as a source for “supplementation” of his diet and performed an abdominal ultrasound on him. The findings indicate some intestinal and liver disease that did not show up on blood work and is worsening despite the food trial. He is scheduled to have biopsies of his in the next week and we will keep you posted on his case!

Dr Cindy McManis

Dr. Cynthia McManis received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Texas A&M University in 1985. She developed her interest in cats during her first year post-graduation. She began to actively pursue more education and information regarding feline health care and joined the Academy of Feline Medicine in 1989. When the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners approved feline practice as a specialty board in 1995, she was in the first class to sit for the exam. She is 1 of 90 board certified feline practitioners in the country at this time. Dr. McManis founded Just Cats Veterinary Services in 1994.

Outside of her clinic cases, she is a feline internal medicine consultant for Veterinary Information Network, a web based resource for veterinarians all over the world. She has also served on several committees within the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). She established an ABVP residency site at Just Cats in 2008 and mentors new graduates as well as seasoned practitioners who are interested in achieving ABVP certification.

Dr. McManis is an avid triathlete and is constantly training for races. She completed her first Iron Man in May of 2012. She is owned by 2 home kitties- Amante (“Monty”) and La Mariquita (“Mari”), and 2 hospital kitties- Momma Kitty and O’Malley.

Just Cats Veterinary Services
1015 Evergreen Circle
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Phone: (281) 367-2287
Email: vets@justcatsvets.com

Website: http://www.justcatsvets.com/
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On the Second Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me

Dec 15, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

… Two Toxic Plants: Helping your Cat Avoid the Emergency Room this Holiday (pt. 2)

If you missed out on the previous part:

Many people decorate their homes with festive holiday plants that are gorgeous to look at, but may be deadly if eaten. In addition, many are busy baking and cooking in preparation of big family meals together. Since we’re so busy, sometimes we may not notice if our mischievous cat is trying to snack on something she shouldn’t.

Here are some of the top holiday items that cats love to eat (but shouldn’t!):

Plants

First of all, it is important to note that even non-toxic plants can cause coughing, choking, stomach upset or mild vomiting. Sometimes a leaf can even become lodged in a nostril or scratch or irritate an eye. If your cat eats a plant and needs to seek medical attention, it is always a good idea to bring the plant that was eaten with you to the vet – that way if you are uncertain of the species, your vet may be able to identify it and determine the treatment needed. Also, bringing the plant helps to evaluate exactly how much and what part of the plant was eaten. A tiny bite of a certain plant leaf may be safe, while the berry or flower of the same plant is lethal.

Holiday plants vary in their toxicity. Lilies (all of the Lilium family and Hemerocalis species), amaryllis bulbs and mistletoe are the most dangerous. If you or anyone in your household suspects that your cat may have ingested any part of a lily, no matter how small, please seek immediate veterinary attention. Hesitation may mean the difference between life and death for your cat! If more than 6 hours pass between lily ingestion and treatment, your cat’s chance of recovery decreases from fairly good to guarded-to-poor, and you can expect some long-term kidney damage.

There are several species of mistletoe including Phoradendum and Viscum – some of which are highly toxic and some of which are less so. Any type of mistletoe ingestion should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian.

Holly (Ilex spp.) – certain species contain the methylzanthine Theobromine (also theophylline which is used as a respiratory aid, and caffeine – you know what that does! J) in all parts, but concentrated in the leaves. Theobromine is the toxic substance that is also found in chocolate. Leaves can cause cuts or irritation in the mouth and esophagus. The berries, which contain glucosidic saponins, are mildly toxic to humans in small quantities, but can cause toxicity to varying degrees in pets. It is best to contact a veterinarian if your pet has ingested holly – more about Holly toxicity.

Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) is a decorative species of nightshade with bright red berries that are poisonous.
Poinsettias (Euphorbia) have gotten a bad rap as an extremely poisonous plant due to an urban legend dating back to 1919 – reference for poinsettia myth. They do cause some intestinal upset, but rarely cause death. Pine needles and Christmas cactus usually cause irritation and intestinal upset but are less toxic. The most common signs of plant toxicity are: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and excessive salivation (drooling).

If you have a live tree, Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers or preservatives and stagnant tree water can breed bacteria, but ingestion of a small amount of water does not usually cause severe issues. Covering the water with chicken wire or other mesh allows you to refresh your tree, but prevents your cat from drinking the water. Pine sap is not toxic but is sticky and hard to remove. Cats may lick excessively or pull at their fur if sap becomes adhered to their fur. Vegetable oil works better than shampoo when removing sap from your cat’s fur.

Exposure to plants in the Lily family is far and away the most serious holiday threat. I have seen more deaths in cats due to this, than all the other toxic plants combined.

Some non-toxic winter plants that you can safely place in your home include: Christmas palm (Veitchia merrillii), Christmas orchid (Cattleya trianaei), Christmas dagger fern (Polystichym spp), and Mistletoe cactus (Thipsalis cassutha).

Foods

All members of the genus Allium (onion, garlic, leek, chives, shallots, and scallions) can be poisonous to both dogs and cats. Toxicity can cause damage to the red blood cells (RBC), resulting in Heinz body anemia. In particular, cats are 2 to 3 times more susceptible to RBC damage from these components than other species. While specific studies have not been done with garlic as to the safe levels of ingestion, acute onion toxicosis occurs in animals that eat more than 0.5% of their body weight at one time (less than 2 Tbsp. for a 10lb. cat). However, smaller doses given regularly over a period of time will cause the same problem.

Drinks with milk or cream such as alcoholic eggnog are a concern both because most cats are lactose intolerant and because cats are very sensitive to alcohol due to their small size. Even small amounts of alcohol can be fatal.

Chocolate ingestion can be serious, leading to seizures, if a large quantity is ingested. Chocolate toxicity varies by type of chocolate ingested – baker’s chocolate contains a higher concentration of Theobromine than white chocolate. Any ingestion of chocolate should warrant a call to your veterinarian, however. This is usually less of an issue for cats than dogs since they don’t seem to want to eat pure chocolate, but it should still be kept out of reach.

You should refrain from giving bones to your cats. Unlike dogs, cats do not have the instinct to gnaw on bones – and even dogs can damage or prematurely wear down their teeth with too much bone-chewing. Small bones can cause choking or bowel obstructions. Ingestion of broken bones can cause perforations of the intestinal tract, so if you offer turkey meat, make sure it is boneless.

In addition, the herbs and spices that the turkey or chicken is cooked with can be a problem. Sage is an herb that cats are extremely sensitive to, and can cause an upset stomach or depression of the nervous system. Also, as above, onions and other members of that family can cause anemia. If you want to offer your cat turkey, cook up some unseasoned bits on the side, rather than sharing from the family’s bird. It is doubtful that cats can taste the spices the same way humans can, anyway.

Medications

Medications are not something that people think about as a holiday hazard, but during this chaotic time, when many guests may be staying in your home, be vigilant about any medications that may spill, especially as family members that may be coming to stay may bring in medications that aren’t usually in your house. Cats lack some liver enzymes and metabolize many medications poorly; one Tylenol or Ibuprofen can be fatal to a cat. If your cat is on medications for her own health issues, ingesting additional human medications may interact with those she has already taken with devastating results. If you think your cat has ingested someone’s medication, please call a veterinarian right away. Have the pill vial handy while you are on the phone and bring it with you to your appointment so that you can give all the important information to the doctor about what kind of medication it was, the dose and an estimate of how many pills were in the bottle. Make sure that you are also aware of all the medications your cat normally takes and when the most recent dose was given. If your cat has ingested someone else’s medication and is due for a dose of their own medications, DO NOT give the normal medications until you have spoken with your veterinarian.

Continue to Part 3: On the Third Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me

Dr Steven Bailey

Dr. Steven J. Bailey founded Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital in 1992. He obtained his Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University in June of 1986. After graduation, Dr. Bailey practiced emergency medicine for 8 years prior to establishing Exclusively Cats. Dr. Bailey is one of two veterinarians in the state of Michigan and the only veterinarian in Southeastern Michigan that has been board certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners as a Feline Specialist (ABVP). His special interests include complicated medical/surgical cases as well as critical care, advanced dentistry, and behavioral medicine. Dr. Bailey is an active member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), he is a current council member of the Southeastern Michigan Veterinary Medical Association (SEMVMA). He is also an Associate Editor of the Feline Internal Medicine Board on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), invited member of VMG #18 (The only feline exclusive Veterinary Management Group) and MOM’s group (Macomb/Oakland Management Group). In his free time, Dr. Bailey is an avid kayaker (some may even call him “obsessed”) and an instructor in both canoe and kayaking sports. He also enjoys running and spending time with his family. Dr. Bailey and his wife Liz have 2 adult children, Christopher and Kayla, 3 cats, Tic Tic, Sapphire and Lacey, and one dog, Charlotte.

Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital

6650 Highland Road

Waterford, MI 48327

Phone: 248-666-5287

Fax ‎206-333-1135

ecvh@exclusivelycats.com

Website: http://www.exclusivelycats.com

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