Albuquerque Journal Article – Itchy Kitty with Diarrhea

Itchy cat

Food & Airborne Allergens take their Toll

Pippi, my 4 year old Maine Coon cat first suffered with indolent ulcers at six months of age that has been controlled with z/d diet. Since January Pippi has formed stools for weeks and then reverts to “little cow pies”. Lately, she startles with itching and then frantically grooms her lower abdomen and the insides of her legs and arms. I know the excessive grooming and diarrhea can have an emotional component. We love this girl and want her to be comfortable.

Dr. Nichol:
Emotional component? I can only imagine the horror. Here’s Pippi, in back-to-school mode, suddenly jumping and licking her arms and thighs. And then cow pies. If she’s going to have a shot at homecoming queen we’d better act fast.

Pippi is the picture of food reaction. While many affected cats have either itchy skin or stomach/intestinal upset, this poor girl has both. Her indolent ulcer (a concave skin erosion on the upper lip) was likely an early indicator.

The meat proteins in z/d are hydrolyzed – altered so they don’t trigger an allergic reaction. But over time z/d can actually cause diarrhea. It is best used in the initial diagnosis. Dr. Rebecca Mount of Dermatology for Animals pointed out that Pippi “may be lacking enzymes to digest certain proteins and may do better on a novel protein diet since many food allergic pets will still react to the parent protein of a hydrolyzed diet.” Pippi’s veterinarian can switch her to a prescription diet like duck, venison, or rabbit. Your budding debutante could become less itchy and pass more attractive stool.

Pippi may also be allergic to airborne pollens. Antihistamines plus fish oil may help but oral cyclosporine could make a very big difference. A skin parasite like scabies is another possible cause for the itchies. Fear not; there is better living through modern chemistry.
I’ll be available for one-on-one questions and just friendly discussion on Wednesday, August 22 from 6-9 PM at The Banque Loft, 219 Central Ave NW. There will be music, a food truck, and a cash bar for supporters of TEDx ABQ. I’ll give my TED talk on September 29.

Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video, blog, or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.