Thursday, September 03, 2009

Allergies revisited

Several people commented yesterday about Smokey's allergies. His allergies present with extremely itchy, swollen eyes. He would rub them so much, he'd rub a bald spot on his arm. They itched something terrible for him. We tried antihistamines, and those worked for a while. Smokey is not the best pill taker, so we had these meds compounded into an ear cream. We called this his magic cream because it worked wonders and he didn't stress getting it! Eventually this cream stopped working for him. We tried steroid injections and saw fantastic results. One shot would last several months for him, at first. Then they stopped working too, and we could not find any way to make him comfortable.

Mojo had been working with the dermatology department at the vet school, and we saw the benefits of the immuno therapy. We decided to give it a try for Smokey too. You can read about his testing and see results at this previous post.

Another special challenge for Smokey is that he also has herpes in his eyes. When he flairs from his allergies, all the scratching, and stressing about the itching lead to ulcers. Which burn, so he rubs, is a vicious cycle! We realized that Smokey is a worrier. He internalizes everything and stresses. This causes his herpes flair ups most of the time. We have him on an anti-anxiety med for that, and it has truly helped him to be a more relaxed cat. We worked with the dosing until he would not worry, but still had all of his normal personality. He actually needs very little of this med to stay stable. It has been a miracle drug for us!

He has been taking his allergy shots now for almost 3 years and we have seen fantastic results! His shot schedule is one shot every two weeks. He went from needing steroid shots and antihistamines regularly, even though they weren't really working, to nothing at all. We have very small flairs in the summer. We saw it last summer, and this summer too. I am going to speak with his doctor about either testing for something else, or seeing if we can increase the frequency of the shots in the summer to keep him clear. At least we know what to do if we see some swelling or winking. That is a big relief, to know how to address a problem is half the battle.

Here is what he looks like with a slight flair. Notice how the skin around the eyes is puffy. Sorry the quality of the photo is not that great.

This picture is just a few months ago and you can see how his eyes look now. This is what we see most of the time, and hope to continue to see, once we get the summer thing worked out with the dermatologist.

We love our vet school, and feel very fortunate to live so close to it. The doctors are wonderful and really work hard to find the right combination to help your pet.

I don't like that my boys have these special problems, but I do take my role as their advocate for the best care possible seriously. I research their problems and speak with several friends, who are vets, about them. I am willing to do something a bit out of the ordinary if it will benefit my boys and provide them with good quality of life. I also don't have a problem with stopping a treatment if that quality is suffering and trying something else, or at least requesting a different option.

How do you handle medical issues if they come up in your cats? What 'weird' things have you seen or dealt with?


  1. We are glad to hear Smokey's eyes are doing a bit better. Mom says, she has to knock on wood (we don't get that) that we do not nor have we ever had any issues at all. Well, aside from Scooter (RIP), having cancer, she did not know it literally until the day she was put to rest. They thought her liver was working too hard. Skeeter had some runny eyes this summer (seasonal allergies) and mom just used a washcloth with water to wipes them, and it stopped. Good luck on your findings...

  2. That is a great question - we will have to check to see everyone elses answers later! We have had many issues but in a house of 5 cats, that is to be expected. Lola has allergies but no where close to as bad as Smokey - we can put some of the eye ointment in and they clear up pretty quick. Virgil had an issue about a month ago where he was walking funny - we think he hurt himself on the new (and now slippery floor) - we took him to the emergency vet which is nearby and he got meds and is better now. Kirzon has tooth problems, but we give him tartar control stuff to help out. Barney is still a kitten but he has eye issues too - we aren't sure what because one gets quite red, but no sores or anything (both eyes had discharge for a while but that could have been allergies because we all had it). Floyd is the one with the most issues - we tried for a long time to find out what was wrong (and he lost 11 pounds at one point) and we learned he has lymphoma, pancreatits and hepatitis - we used a vet specialist, our regular vet and a third local vet to find this all out. But now he is doing very well, gaining the weight back - at last check 15 3/4 lbs (up from 11 - he should be about 17) and doing well! Oh, and at one point last year Lola wasn't eating - went to the emergency room, they weren't sure what, took her to the regular vet, they x-rayed to see if there was a blockage - no blockage but a LOT of gas - the vet and one he consulted with said they had never seen anything like it. She has always been the gassy one but this was crazy. She got some antibiotics in case anything was "fermenting" in her belly to cause it - it cleared up and she hasn't had it since.

  3. Thanks for that info. Ernie has allergies, or at least we think he does. Periodically, his lip will swell and he gets sores on his mouth...also the pads on his feet will swell. He itches and chews on his pads too which causes them to bleed. At first the vet assumed it was a food allergy and we put him on a special diet. That seemed to help but then it seemed like his problems were the worse when the seasons changed. His problems never seemed to be that severe so the vet never started Ernie on any kind of medication like steroid shots. She would give him antibiotics when he got the sores on his mouth, I guess to make sure they didn't get infected. We've never had Ernie allergy tested though. So we're not really sure what he is allergic to. Lately, he's been itching more than usual and I'm not sure if it's because I've taken him off of the special diet food (which I have about 2 months ago) or the change in seasons. I'm going to put him back on the special food and see if that makes any difference.

    I wonder if it would be worth pursuing what his allergies are.

  4. I'm glad you found a good treatment for Smokey. It's wonderful that you're such a devoted advocate for him.

    Lucy has allergies but they're not as bad as Smokey's. She digs at her eyes but they don't swell and it's not constant.She also scratches her chin and ears a lot.

    Our other cat, Pickles, passed away some years ago from Lymphoma. That was a crazy, crazy time, but we did everything we could for him, and I did a lot of research.

  5. Poor, Smokey. I'm glad you were able to find him some relief.

  6. Bless Smokey's heart. That pic of his eyes during a flare up makes us sad. We are so glad to hear he is doing better on his meds and that you are able to take advantage of the vet school. If it's State, they come down here to the NC coast a couple times a year in the mobile spay/neuter clinic and we have a big feral cat spay clinic with the teaching vet and the students. Earlier this year the clinic was canceled, so we rented a big van for the kitties and drove to the Wake shelter and had the clinic there. They are fabulous!

  7. Poor Smokey, we're glad you're able to get the relief for him that he needs!

    None of us have any of those kinds of problems, we were all doing good until Bugsy came up with both the eye tumor and bladder stones this summer. So The Mommy is dealing with the results of those now and the best way to move forward.

    Purrs and hugs,
    The Kitty Krew

  8. We're really glad that Smokey is better now! He looks so sad with the puffy eyes, it must have been horrible for him.

    The only things we've had to deal with are Samson's interstitial cystitis and Deli's URI. Both very treatable but unfortunately recurring


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