Friday, August 26, 2011

Mysterious Scratching in a Cat: Not Always What You Think!

Well, my sister’s cat Sox (who has been mentioned in many articles but in particular in my Feb. 4th article) who had the EGC (eosinophilic granuloma complex) issue a while back had still been scratching her neck area and just wouldn’t stop. Now, I knew that a reaction from whatever triggered the EGC could cause this for quite a while but this had been a LONG time since flea/tick topical (the suspected cause of the EGC) had been applied. I was casually talking with my sister about this one day and we both agreed that it couldn’t be a food allergy because we were both under the (wrong) assumption that food allergies made cats sick (vomit, diarrhea, etc) and that they didn’t make cats scratch. Well, later that night, I called my sister back because I had gotten suspicious and had looked some things up and, sure enough, had found that food allergies do in fact make cats scratch and that it is an “intolerance”, not an allergy, if a cat throws up a particular food all the time. She was NOT happy to find this out (although we were both relieved that it was possibly something as simple as this) but asked me what I thought she should do. I told her that while she could take the cat to the vet, they would likely run a blood test and tell her either that it was not a food allergy or that it was indeed a food allergy. If it was a food allergy, I told her, then they would tell her to use a certain diet that contained different ingredients (and simpler ingredients) than the ones she was getting right now and to feed her that for up to six weeks to try and find out what the ingredient causing the allergy was. So, first off, she fed Sox only Friskies canned food (a food that we knew had never caused issues for Sox) for a while but, as you might imagine, that can get really hard when you are not always home to give it to the cat. So, she went to a store and bought a bag of PurinaONE Beyond, which is new and is Purina’s best product (in my opinion). Sox has been on this food for a while now and I am happy to report that she is NOT scratching anymore and hasn’t been for several weeks. She got to have “the sweater of shame” taken off her and is a much happier (and cooler) cat now! So, if your cat is scratching and won’t stop, you might consider the possibility of a food allergy. The food that Sox had been eating was a very high quality food (Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul) but unfortunately, it has “dried skim milk” as one of its ingredients. This is not usually an issue with cats (except for ones that are allergic) because it is a small amount, however, this is the ingredient that was the issue for Sox. Food allergies are more common in cats than many people realize and probably go unnoticed in many cats because their owner attributes the symptoms to something else.
Here are some facts about food allergies. This came from Drs Foster and Smith website.

“Food allergies account for about 10-15% of all allergies in dogs and cats. Food allergies may show up concurrently with allergies to pollen, dust, etc. Symptoms include:
Itching, especially face, feet, trunk, limbs and anal area
Ear problems, often yeast-related
Skin infections that respond to antibiotics, but then recur as soon as the antibiotic therapy ceases
Occasionally, dogs with true food allergies may have increased bowel movements and soft stool. Food allergies should not be confused with food intolerances, which are not true allergies, and generally cause diarrhea and vomiting.”


  1. Scylla needs to loose weight. We tried Hills Science Diet, but Scylla won't eat it. Do you know of any other good diet catfoods we can see if she will eat. ~Sandra

  2. What is she eating right now? Also, how much? I would feed the minimum amount of food that the directions say for her weight. Also, make sure the protein content in the food is high (above 30%) and is meat based (the first two ingredients really should be meat but for sure the first ingredient). Try Taste of the Wild, Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul (they make a lite formula, I think), or Purina ONE Beyond. The Taste of the Wild stuff is really high protein and would be a great choice if you can find it. But the big thing is to limit the amount of food (make sure she doesn't eat the other cat's food or Finris' food).

  3. They have eaten Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul (don't think it was Taste of the Wild though, the store I get it @ has a very limited selection). Right now they are eating Friskies Senior Diet, because they have it where I normally shop. I have to make a special trip for the Chicken Soup. The store I normally go to has Purina ONE Beyond so I'll give it a try this week and see if she will eat it. Right now I split a 5.5 oz. can of canned catfood between 3 cats and then later I give them half a cup of dry catfood to snack on during the night. The main problem is she doesn't get much exercise. The other two actually eat more and are thinner. Arty barely weighs 5# while Scylla weighs 16#

  4. Well, give "Beyond" a try and see. I've never heard of canned food causing a cat to gain weight (usually the opposite is true and a cat will LOOSE weight on canned) so I doubt that is to blame (unless it has a lot of gravy or sauce or something like that). I'm not sure why she is overweight because that doesn't sound like a lot of food (it sounds about right to me). For exercise, you could try to use a laser pointer (they make ones for cats or get a lower class laser) and see if she likes that (most cats will chase a laser dot like crazy). I've never tried one myself but I've heard good things about the food dispenser toys (to put dry food into and make the cat "work" to get the food). Purina ONE also makes a product called "Indoor Advantage" and it has a higher protein content but I would try the Beyond first. Arty is like Sunny. Sunny is really small and light too.

  5. We need to get some batteries for our laser pointer, the cats do love playing with it. Fenris even likes to play with it.