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 her with a plate of food to stay still long enough for the top photo, and you can tell she’s not amused.

Posted in Health | 24 Comments

Grandma’s wheelchair is very comfy!

On Friday, we bring Grandma over from the assisted living place for dinner at our house. This is the third time she’s come over in her wheelchair. At first I was scared of it, then I was just wary, and this time I was brave enough to sit in it. It was actually very comfortable and I settled in for a little rest. 

Grandma is a Golden State Warriors fan, so she chose those team colors for her new cast. Unfortunately, they didn’t win the game tonight. But that means everyone gets to watch another basketball game on Monday.

Maybe when Grandma comes over next Friday I’ll spend more time in her wheelchair. Maybe I’ll even get to go for a ride!

I hope you all have a fantastic Caturday.

Posted in Cat antics | 20 Comments

My Tree Adventure

Today, Mom decided to take me in the backyard for some fresh air and brain exercise. She thinks it’s good for me to experience different things, even if it’s just getting out in my back yard and sniffing stuff.

Mom put me on the lowest branch of our tree where Dad’s hand is. Dad took the day off work today so he was out with us too! That’s a good thing as you’ll see later.

Raven climbing her tree

I climbed to the next set of branches and wanted to go higher, but my people wouldn’t let me. Mom said she’s too old to be climbing trees to get me down. Also, it’s too easy for my harness and leash to get snagged on something and I’d get stuck.

This turned out to be a comfy spot where I could rest and watch the yard from a high vantage point.
Raven in tree
My catnip pot is beneath me. I could stay up here and wait for intruder cat to come maul my plant. Oh wait, he’s an experienced outdoor kitty and he’d probably maul me. I guess it’s a good thing Mom and Dad are here to protect me.
Raven in tree

I still think I’m a stealthy ninja kitty!

Raven in tree

I’m not an experienced tree climber and getting up the tree is much easier than getting down. It’s a good thing Dad was home because he had to get a step stool and get me out of the tree. I could have stayed up there a lot longer, but Mom & Dad had yard work to do and I had to go back into the house.

I hope you all enjoyed your Monday. I sure did!

Posted in Cat antics, Garden | 18 Comments

Intruder cat squashed my catnip plant

This morning Mom took me out to enjoy the backyard. This photo is from last week but I repeated the investigation of my catnip plant. It was all squashed down and smelled of intruder kitty.
Raven sniffing her catnip pot

Later in the afternoon, the culprit made himself known!

This kitty has been in my yard many times before and we know he likes the nip. But I think it was extremely rude of him to squash my plant.

Intruder cat caught in my catnip

To be honest, I’m not very interested in catnip. Mom grows it because she likes it and so do the intruder cats.  He was in it for a good two minutes before Mom made him go away. Hopefully it will bounce back from his brutish rubbing.

Posted in Cat antics | 21 Comments

I have furs!

I’ve been battling hairloss & itchiness for a long time. It took 18 months to figure out I’m allergic to fish & chicken and for the past 6 months (since November 2016) I’ve been eating a restricted diet.  As you saw in my last post, I’m growing new furs and have some dramatic before and after photos to share.

Here are two photos of me looking awful. I was itchy and constantly licking myself and biting my fur. Sadly, this isn’t the worst of my hairloss. After this photo was taken, I chewed the fur off almost my entire tail and the bald patch on my left thigh got bigger. I also started loosing fur from the inside of my front legs. Even the backs of my ears were getting bald.A photo of my missing fur in June 2016. Raven - hairloss 2015

I started my new diet the end of October 2016, and by December my fur started growing back.  In this photo I have little fuzzy furs growing on my thighs and legs. Mom, Dad, and the vet thought we were on the right track with my new diet. December 2016. Fur starting to regrow.

By eliminating a probiotic supplement (more about that in the next post), we completely stopped my itchiness and my furs started growing better.

And look at me now.  After 6 months of a strict diet my tail has floofy furs and my legs have hair. And the bald patch on my thigh is gone. It’s hard to find any bare patches of skin on my tail or legs.
May 2017. My skin is covered with fur.May 2017. My tail and legs have fur.The fur has grown back on most of my belly. There’s still a patch that’s just fuzzy, but it’s small compared to what it was before. Mom suspects it will take a really long time for these furs to grow back because they’ve been missing for 2 years!

May 2017. My belly is mostly covered with fur.

A lot of the fur that’s grown back is my undercoat, not the long, silky top furs that make me feathery. Mom hopes I’ll be closer to full floof by my birthday in October.

For any of you who are dealing with allergies or other food sensitivities, you have our sympathy. It can be a frustrating and expensive process to figure out. We’re lucky to be able to manage Raven’s condition with diet alone and not use any medications. Paws crossed her immune system stays stable and we can maintain her good health for a long time.May 2017. I look nearly normal with a furry tail.

If you didn’t know what I looked like in “full floof”, you wouldn’t suspect I’ve been battling allergies. I look like a normal, healthy kitty again!

Posted in Health | 22 Comments