Ask The Vet: Bengal Cat With Allergies

I suspect that our Bengal may have a food allergy. I’ve been doing research and it’s common for the breed. They are very sensitive to immunizations and pesticides etc. and ours is very allergic to Advantage Flea treatment. She has some spots that she is licking the fur off of on her arms only. No open sores though. I’m wondering if they are itchy and I’d like to put some cortisone on them and see if it helps. Do you know if it’s okay to put cortisone cream (the human kind) on a cat? The skin is maybe the tiniest bit bumpy in spots. Hard to tell there is still a short layer of fur. I don’t want to do tons of expensive and unpleasant medical testing on her if I don’t have to just yet...

Assume that anything you put on the outside of a cat you are feeding to a cat, since they lick themselves so much. I wouldn't use steroids, I would attempt to eliminate the allergies. Steroids are a band-aid, and have bad side effects when used long term, including thinning of the skin and hair loss (with topical application; systemic use adds muscle wasting, immunosuppression, and impacts the liver and pancreas, as well as increasing risk of diabetes, etc).

A good omega3 supplement from fish oil is the first step (to reduce inflammation, give 50-150 mg of EPA+DHA per kg of cat per day; the average cat is around 4 kg, so 200-600mg ---the typical fish oil capsule is 1000mg of oil, containing 300mg of EPA+DHA, so 1-2 capsules per day). That would take a few weeks at the soonest to show effect, and I would start low (half a capsule per kitty per day) and increase the dose gradually. It should also benefit the kidney failure cat. Once the cat's symptoms go away I try to reduce to a lower maintenance dose of the oil, usually half a capsule a day per kitty.

Getting the cats off of the grain/potato based foods onto a more meat based, less processed food should also help a lot to reduce the food allergies, since those are most commonly the culprits. If they don't go outside there is no need for flea meds. If they are allergic to flea meds they probably shouldn't go outside. Revolution is another option, and covers more types of bugs (ie, mites), few cats are allergic to it (it's related to ivermectin).

Most likely a big part of the problem is actually inhalant allergies (called "atopy"), and a good HEPA air filter, along with the omega 3s, should help a lot. Add in improving the diet, and most of these problems go away within a couple of months. Standard Process Dermal Support is a good additional supplement, too.

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This post was generously contributed by
Dr. Stanley of House Call Of The Wild.