CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Allergies Cats Can Have

Bettty under the vines

When people think of cat allergies they usually think of people being allergic to the cat dander and the mild to severe reactions a person can have. It is important to realize that just as people have allergies cats can have allergies too.

Figuring out what your cat is allergic too is no easy task, but process of elimination and observation help. One of mine had a skin rash so bad (he would develop scabs on his ears and neck and the fur would disappear from these areas and his underarms and tummy would erupt in red blotches like hives or heat rash) that he had to be given cortisone injections.

But knowing that those are undesirable, I wanted to get to the bottom of the problem. Food is one major culprit and my dog may be allergic to certain things: she gets diarrhoea from multi-colored foods that have colorants in.

We discounted food as the problem in the cat. We eliminated any household products, because the problem improved if the cat was kept indoors.

At first the vet thought it was reaction to flea infestation, but we ruled that out too. Once everything else was eliminated, we knew that it must have been an allergy to a plant of some sort, but I live in the countryside, in a fertile valley, that has hundreds, if not millions of plants, both wild and cultivated.

Where the heck do you start?

The vet said that we could do patch tests to find out what he reacted too, but that this would be both exhaustive as well as prohibitively expensive, so I spent years watching the seasons and the rash come and go (treating it naturally with aloe and olive oil and simply keeping the cat in for spells to let it calm), before I finally cracked it when the rash totally disappeared and healed within a week of the grapes being harvested from the vines.

Now I can see why: the cats used to spend a lot of time sleeping in the shade under the vines in the summer, which is hard to avoid when there are vines - enough to produce 200 liters of wine - right here in our backyard.

It appears that the acid from the fruit was literally burning them. Mico is obviously highly allergic as he has the biggest adverse reaction; Betty, who also comes from another part of the island, is also slightly affected.

The two cats who were born right here in the valley show no symptoms: presumably come from stock that has developed immunity.

Now the only recourse is to keep the cat away from the substance causing the allergy. In our case, I have to keep them in from when the grapes first form in June/July through until early October when they're harvested. In old man Mico's case, this presents no difficulty.

Betty is another story: she yowls at the door and tries to escape constantly.

How do you tell a cat that something is for their own good?

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