Feline FIV Skin Reaction or Cat Food Allergy

by Anonymous

We rescued an abused 2 year old amputee FIV cat about 5 months ago. Bailey has been the most thankful, loving cat we've ever had. He also has been getting more and more sick since we brought him home (no signs or outbreaks before).

I had Bailey on EVO cat food and immune system support tablets, and he was doing well, going to the bathroom daily, skin and fur were great! Slowly he developed constant upper respiratory infections, weepy eye, and the latest visual problem we've noticed are scabs developing from his ears to his eyes.

My vet told me he was allergic to the food and put him on Science diet ($$) and meds (chlorpheniramine) with no improvement. He has now added cepha drops...still no improvement, and the scabs have spread to the backs of the ears and he is scratching so much that he has pulled the hair off from behind his ears.

I called the vet this a.m. with an update, and he said it could take up to a month before we see an improvement! I've been putting vitamin E skin moisture oil on Bailey to relieve the pain.

My once lively, playful cat is absolutely miserable. Oh, he is also constipated, and the vet has me putting Metamucil in the food, as well! I'm surprised he's eating at all! What else can I do?? Is it something that I'm doing that's making him sick??

Bailey was pawing at the side of his face yesterday, and then he couldn't open his eye. I was so nervous.
It took him a while to open it (with warm compresses). Any advice?? Herbal remedies? I feel terrible. This has been a learning process.

Thanks for listening,


Vet Advice for Feline FIV Skin Reaction or Cat Food Allergy

Hi Beth,

Poor Bailey! I am afraid his FIV really complicates things. I can’t be sure whether or not his symptoms are a result of a food allergy (certainly a possibility) or a sign that his immune system has finally failed him because of his FIV infection and it is time to let him go.

Did your veterinarian run any blood work on him the last time he was in? That could give you a bit of insight into his overall health. One thing I’m certain of, however, is that nothing you are doing is making him sick. He was ill (even if he didn’t show it) when he came to you.

It sounds like Bailey is really suffering, so I don’t think it’s appropriate to simply wait the month or more it could take to see if his new food will work for him. If he were my patient, I might consider putting him on some low dose prednisolone to help with the itching and switching to a more powerful antibiotic like enrofloxacin, although neither of these choices are completely without risk (and I’d want to run some blood work first).

If you do not feel like you are getting the help you need from your current veterinarian, it might be time for a second opinion.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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