Cat Food Allergy or Intestinal Problems?
by Rick Foulkrod
Cat Skin Lesion and Hair Loss
My cat is approximately 9-10 years old, female, spayed and till six weeks ago never had problems other than occasional fleas. Hard to figure how she got fleas because she does not go out doors and I do not have screens in my doors. Last time she had fleas was six to eight months ago. Stool is always well formed and not runny, urine does not smell.
She ate vet advised dry foods for about eight years and when I talked with the vet last (nine months ago), he mentioned that canned foods are now considered better. I asked him about her seeming bigger in the belly than before, but he said her weight was fine. I had tried several canned foods and she seemed to like the different fish types along with the dried food. About six weeks ago, I noticed that she was constantly licking to the left of her anus, to the point that a lesion had developed.
I thought it may have been an allergic reaction to the canned food, but I was giving her cooked turkey also. I stopped giving her turkey, but apparently I didn't wait long enough between changing foods to know which food was the problem.
I've tried three different canned foods, two were fish and they were fine till six weeks ago. Since then, after she started to heal, I tried chicken. She was fine for one day, but when the canned chicken food was gone, she started the licking again.
All cause her to lick at the same spot (to the left of and around the anus) to the point that a lesion has formed and there is no hair in a 3 inch by 5 inch spot. (see photo) In between different types of canned food, I've been giving her plain cooked chicken and that seems to help, as the hair had started to grow back and the lesion was starting to heal.
Is cooked chicken by itself OK to feed her?
What kind of diet can I try to get her back to normal and how long should
I wait before reintroducing a food to determine if it is causing allergies and not worms?
I've enclosed a photo of the affected area and stool samples. The sample to the right that is round is probably from the canned foods and is the same as when she was eating the dried foods only (Science Diet/Adult/Hairball contol). The sample to the left is from cooked chicken.
The canned foods she was doing well with were Friskies Savory Shreds/Ocean Whitefish and Tuna in Sauce (I was draining the sauce because she ate so fast she would vomit), Friskies Flaked Tuna in Sauce. The last food I tried was Friskies Turkey and Giblets pate.Vet Suggestion Cat Food Allergy
Despite your excellent description of your cat’s condition, a physical exam and some diagnostic tests are the only way to know exactly what is going on with her.
I can answer a couple of your questions though.
First of all, cooked chicken is NOT a nutritionally complete meal for a cat. If this is all she eats, over time she will develop nutritional deficiencies and become very sick.
Secondly, I agree with your veterinarian that in general, canned food is a healthier choice than dry for cats. However, there are always exceptions to the rule, and it is possible that your cat is one of them.
If she did well on the dry Science Diet Adult Hairball formula
that she was on before, the first thing I’d do would be to put her back on it and see if her problems go away. If they do and you want to try a canned food again, pick one of the Science Diet canned formulas
that has an ingredient list most similar to the ingredient list on her dry food.
If the problems reoccur, consider just leaving her on the dry food. Many cats do very well on dry as long as they have lots of fresh clean water available.
If you try switching her food back and her problems don’t disappear, take her to your veterinarians for an exam.
Jennifer Coates, DVM