The default treatment for an allergic reaction in a cat is a steroid jab and/or prednisone, a steroid tablet. The treatment could be a combination antibiotic/steroid jab.”It is the only treatment they [vets] can offer”.
“…This is the 3rd vet I’ve been to in the past 9 months who won’t give my cat anything else except steroids. I really want to get my cat off of steroids though because he is acting hyper and crazy, and I’ve heard that steroids are not healthy physically….”5
I have read through the section on allergies in The Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook (“Vet Handbook”). It makes somewhat depressing reading because the gist of what I read is that there is no cure. Vets don’t have a good method of treating allergies suffered by cats. Corticosteroids are prescribed but “they do not cure the problem”, the authors state. Allergies in cats, especially asthma, are increasing. More people are discussing the problem. Apparently one third of allergies are caused by food4.
An allergic reaction in a cat is caused by the cat’s immune system overreacting to something eaten, inhaled or in the environment. A allergen causes the reaction. Exposure must have occurred at least twice. There are thousands of potential allergens and a lot of them are in modern products (a 20th century phenomenon). That is the problem. How do you discover what allergen is causing the allergic reaction? It is very difficult and time consuming to investigate the source of an allergy.
This is why the default or fallback treatment is to make the cat more comfortable but not to cure the cat. However, sometimes, the symptoms do indicate a specific allergen such as the flea bite which causes small red blisters on the skin or at least it did for Charlie, my cat. The problem with the flea bite allergy is that it is all but impossible to prevent a single flea bite and it only takes one.
Hypersensitization can help. This entails using injections of flea allergens of increasing strength which desensitises the cat’s immune system. It requires long term treatment.
There has been a spate a allergic reactions in the PoC community. Charlie had a flea bite allergy and was give a steroid injection. It helped for about 6 weeks. A year later he has not suffered from the allergy during the summer of 2013. Not sure why but the reason is probably because there are no cat fleas this year as far as I can see.
Jozef has an allergy and was given antibiotic/steroid injection and Bigfoot, living with DW has an allergy and is receiving steroids. It caused Bigfoot to “leak” urine from time to time.
“….the last two rounds of steroid treatments, at the minimum dose of half a pill every other day, Bigfoot started to leak urine. I asked the vet about it and he said it isn’t common for cats, especially male cats, to leak. He [the vet] doesn’t think it is the steroids, yet the problem stops when I stop the steroids completely….”
Steroids and Leaking Urine
Leaking urine is urinary incontinence. The Vet Handbook does not connect steroid injections with urinary incontinence. However, on the internet there are pages describing the connection. Steroids can cause urinary incontinence in dogs. The cause can be due to excessive drinking and to a suppressed immune system leading to a bladder infection. Apparently steroids can increase the production of urine1. Cats on long term steroids, can develop bacterial cystitis because of lowered immunity. This can cause leaking urine.
Conclusion: a cat on steroids leaking urine may be incontinent because of the steroids but there are other causes.
Side Effects of Corticosteroids
These are short and long term. Short-term effects can include lethargy and increased urination. A cat can get more infections due to a suppressed immune system. Long term side effects include: predisposition to secondary bacterial infections and fungal infections. Urinary tract infections. Obesity. Thinning of skin and coat. Steroids may cause Cushing’s Disease2.
Is there any other treatment for allergies in cats?
Best cure: avoid the allergen, the thing that causes the overreaction. It can be almost impossible to do that.
High-dose essential fatty acid (EFA) supplements can help.
Shampoos are recommended for skin allergies.
Holistic treatments. Holistic vets say that cats eat more than 100 synthetic chemicals in their food and water every day. They believe that the increased incidence of feline allergies is due to problems with the gastrointestinal system.
They would recommend (a) filtered water (b) feeding antioxidant supplements (c) avoiding commercial diet including hypoallergenic foods. Fresh made diets are recommended. Care should be exercised.
Homeopathy is controversial. They would treat the cat by giving small but increasing doses of desensitising injections. Extremely diluted preparations are made from the relevant antigen3. There is the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons where you can find a vet who practices homeopathy in the UK.
Hebalism is also controversial. Fennel seed and cumin root can help repair the lining of the small intestines. Tumeric root can have anti-inflammatory properties. Echinacea can boost the immune system. Oil of peppermint can clear nasal congestion. Ginkgo and aloe vera have anti-inflammatory properties. Khella reduces bronchial constriction. Being realistic, I don’t believe cat caretakers will take up these options mainly because you’ll be hard pressed to find a vet who can advise. But see Feline Herbal Medicine.
Dr Shawn “Pet Care Naturally” – note: this site does not get many visits, which realistically, tells me that the average person does not believe it. Here is his video:
I have to conclude that there are more cats suffering from an allergy than before and vets don’t have a cure. The uncomfortable symptoms are treated.
- “a substance that when introduced into the body stimulates the production of an antibody” – Free Dictionary.
- The Natural Health Cat Care Manual
- Yahoo answers — a desperate cat owner looking for alternatives to steroids.