Managing Raven’s food allergies

A few posts ago I shared how Raven’s furs have been growing back since we figured out she was allergic to chicken & fish and put her on a new diet. I wanted to share a few more thoughts about managing Raven’s food allergies.

Her food & treats

We had to find a food that:

  1. Is grain-free, no chicken, no fish, no fish oil.
  2. Raven will eat (she’s not an adventurous eater).
  3. Didn’t give her diarrhea or constipation.

Raven eats two flavors of Nature’s Variety Pride by Instinct (Ritzy’s Rabbit and Lovebug’s Lamb). I recently noticed that both flavors contain egg (chicken), but it doesn’t seem to aggravate her allergies.

We’ll be in trouble if the manufacturer changes the formula or discontinues this food. I have a 3 month supply and I plan to build up a 6-9 month supply. This food costs slightly more than what I used to feed her, but it’s well worth the cost to keep her healthy and off medications.

Raven isn’t interested in treats but we occasionally give her a few licks of butter or let her lick the empty ice cream bowl.

Raven atop $400 of food! And not amused that she's up there.

Supplements

Fatty acid supplements are believed to support the immune system and calm skin irritation. Giving Raven veterinary fatty acid supplements that were fish oil based was how we figured out she was reacting to fish.

Probiotics are commonly used to support a healthy digestive system. FortiFlora is often recommended to help stop diarrhea, and our vet recommended it when a prescription low-allergen food caused terrible diarrhea. Since it’s also a fantastic appetite stimulant, we continued using it to entice Raven to eat her new canned foods. A couple weeks into her new diet she was still reacting to something and by eliminating FortiFlora, her itching was greatly reduced. With a little research I found that FortiFlora is not recommended for pets who have food allergies. It contains animal digest, which is animal tissues that have been broken down using enzymes or chemicals. There are other probiotics such as Benebac and Proviable that do not contain animal proteins. Both are vegetable oil based and they contain more types of bacteria, so we prefer them anyway.

Exposure to other foods in the house

We eat a lot of chicken so we’re careful to tidy up the kitchen counters before we go to the dining room to eat. I doubt she’d bite into any chicken since she doesn’t like chunky things and I have to puree her canned food in the food processor! But she might step in a bit of dripped juice and then lick it from her paw, so we cover any food and wipe all the counters before leaving the kitchen unattended.

The food we feed our fish is made of fish meal. It comes in tiny granules that occasionally spill and we have to be careful that she doesn’t find any. All the fish tanks have covers, so she’s unable to drink fish tank water. The fish are chunky, so she wouldn’t eat them!

Long, frustrating road

It took about 18 months to find the solution to her food allergies, and since then, everything has gone very well.

But we had a few mishaps along the way.

  • Medications to control itching and calm her immune system were only somewhat effective and are not optimal for long-term use.
  • She had adverse reactions to two flea medications.
  • Intolerance to some foods (allergy or Nasty diarrhea).
  • Reactions to ingredients in recommended supplements.
  • Refusal to eat her new food unless I puree the pea-sized pieces!
  • Reluctance to take a photo for this post!  😉

I don't want to sit on the cat food! She’s always interested in sitting on something that has moved, but not today. I had to bribe her with a plate of food to stay still long enough for the top photo, and you can tell she’s not amused.

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24 Responses to Managing Raven’s food allergies

  1. Jan K says:

    I’m so glad you finally got everything figured out, but gosh, what a tough road to get there! Sam is so fussy….thank goodness allergies aren’t one of her issues. You are so wise to really stock up on the food, it seems like so often when we find something we like they change it or stop making it altogether.

  2. Brian says:

    We are sure glad the long path is working, it sure is tough figuring out those allergy things.

  3. Mary McNeil says:

    Glad beautiful Raven is doing so much better . Purrs

  4. Dealing with food allergies can be very frustrating. My mom’s dog has a lot of allergies as well, and my mom has had to try so many different diets and supplements to figure out what worked best for Maggie. She finally found the magic raw food and supplement combination, and Maggie is doing really well! Glad that you found that magic combination for Raven! 😀

    • Raven says:

      Yay for Maggie! It takes a long time to figure out which foods cause problems because it can take several weeks for the old food allergens to stop causing problems, even after you stop feeding them. And you have to change one or two things at a time, otherwise you don’t know which thing is the culprit.

  5. Glad that you’ve stuck it out and found good food for Raven! We went through years of trial-and-error with Chuck’s intestinal distress, and (fingers crossed!) he seems in a plateau period. Am introducing new foods to make sure that we aren’t caught out with only one, which happened when Natural Balance lost their source for venison.

  6. it’s so good to hear about other options besides FortiFlora! So glad things are going well!

  7. Seems to me that whenever I think I have solved the problem, something new pops up which is difficult to deduce. Scooby is my “allergy” cat.

    • Raven says:

      Poor Scooby! And poor you for constantly having to figure out what’s causing problems.

  8. Pumpkinpuddy says:

    I’m so glad you finally figured it out. We’re still trying to figure out what to feed EK so he doesn’t have the runs all the time.

  9. Summer says:

    No wonder it took so long for you to figure out all of Raven’s irritants… they are everywhere. I’m glad you not only took the time to get them out of her diet, and her way, but that you also reported back to us! Good info to know for anyone whose cat may have food allergies.

  10. Annie says:

    I remember how hard it was trying to help Raven’s allergies. Well done on your persistence! Interesting about the supplements that usually people tout as helpful. Annie will not eat if there is fish oil or FortiFlora added to her food. Thanks for sharing the final update. I sure hope her food doesn’t change. I do wish the grain free foods didn’t have fruit added. She looks so cute in that top pic.

    • Raven says:

      I don’t mind a little bit of fruit since that adds vitamins and antioxidants. But I don’t like when they add too many just because of potential allergy or intolerance issues.

  11. We know it’s been a struggle, but we’re so glad you have finally been able to manage Raven’s allergies. We hope she continues to do well.

  12. We applaud your diligence and care. We’re sure Raven does, too!

  13. 15andmeowing says:

    Poor Raven sure had a tough time. I am glad she is doing so much better. She is lucky to have such good parents.

  14. Cathy Keisha says:

    Glad you finally found the answer, Raven. TW has to mash up my wet food too although I’ll eat large pieces of human food or kibble.

  15. Boy, that was a long frustrating journey for you guys, but I’m glad you’ve figured it out! Now … if we could just figure out how to always get them to pose when we want them to, eh??

  16. speedyrabbit says:

    Its been a long bumpy road,but finally you have got to the end,lets hope that the food manufacturers don’t change the food on you,xx Rachel and Speedy

  17. I am so happy that Raven is getting relief. I know people with psoriasis, and the itching is a vicious cycle making life miserable. Raven, you look mahvelous! XO

  18. Lily says:

    That is wonderful that Raven is doing so well. I know it was a long, difficult journey for you both. Congratulations!
    Thank you for the information about alternative probiotics other than FortiFlora. I have put a note in Tommy’s file for any future need in case of antibiotic use.
    Love,
    Lily and Tommy Tea Cakes (- our black kitty)

  19. Clooney says:

    So very happy to hear that you have found the food culprits and that there is now a food that Raven likes and that she is doing well on. Glad she is doing so well now, as others have said you are very diligent, committed and awesome parents.

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