August 2011 - Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center - San Diego, CA

Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center

4680 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92117


August, 2011

Puppy and Kitten Wellness

Welcome to the August 2011 edition of our monthly newsletter. Wondering if you missed our July edition? We sincerely apologize! There was no July publication as we missed our deadline. 


Summer is heating up! Although cats don't usually make happy driving companions, many dogs love a car trip. Please remember that you should never leave your pet in the car no matter how brief your stop. The interior of a vehicle, even with windows lowered and parked in the shade, can reach deadly temperatures very quickly. Please think about this before leaving a beloved pet in the car to run a "quick errand." 

Thank You!

We have had a wonderful response to our recent issue focusing on helping others and cats in need. We'd like to say a heart-felt "thank you" to several clients who graciously offered financial assistance to others as a result of the article.

Handmade Soaps

On that same note, one kind person has donated a lovely batch of homemade soaps! She created a custom label for the soaps, which come in Lavender Pumpkin Spice and Buttered Mango varieties, explaining that they were made exclusively for Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center in order to help raise funds. These wonderful soaps would make purr-fect gifts for your human friends and are available at the clinic for a $5 donation per bar and are going fast! 

Coming Next Month:

September is Senior Healthy Cat Month! Growing older is a natural and inevitable process we must all face. This applies to our cats, too! And just like your health, where "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", preventive medicine helps your senior cats ease into aging and maintain a quality life. We will be celebrating by offering a deeply discounted laboratory panel (blood and urine test) to help screen for early changes that may indicate underlying issues. Cats of any age may take advantage of this offer. Look for more details in the September issue. 


Itching and Allergies in Cats 

Coping with an itchy pet can be an extremely frustrating experience for you, the pet owner, and can truly test the limits of the human-animal bond.  Persistent scratching and grooming by a cat can also result in more skin damage and even cause open wounds.  The following information is intended to provide the cat owner with a basic understanding of the most common underlying causes of itching and allergies.

One of the common reasons that we see feline patients on a daily basis is for itching and scratching. Skin issues can be challenging cases for both the doctor and the client to manage because there can be so many factors that lead to itching. Here is some insight: 

The Most Common Causes of Chronic Itching

The common causes fall into three groups: external parasites (fleas or less commonly, mange mites), allergies (several types), and ringworm (a type of fungal infection).  External parasites that most commonly cause chronic itching dermatitis include fleas and various types of mange.  In itchy cats, we may recommend skin cytologies, scrapings, biopsies and even cultures. We often recommend therapeutic trials for mange in chronically and severely itchy cats.  We always recommend stepped-up flea control and monitoring for fleas, as flea infestation can really make an allergy worse! 

What are Allergies?

Allergy is a state of hypersensitivity in which exposure to a harmless substance known as an allergen induces the body's immune system to "overreact."  The incidence of allergies is increasing in both humans and their pets.  People with allergies usually have hay fever (watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing) or asthma. Cats, in contrast, rarely have respiratory signs with allergies. More commonly they experience the effects of allergic hypersensitivities as skin problems.  Though there are a variety of presentations, this can often be seen as redness and itching, a rash called 'miliary dermatitis,' and over-grooming with hair loss.  

What are the Major Types of Allergies in Cats? 

Flea Allergy
Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common skin disease in dogs and cats, accounting for as many as 80% of cases. Flea saliva from bites is what causes the allergic response. You may not see fleas, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. Cats are fastidious groomers and often clean away obvious signs of fleas but it only takes one flea bite. For the flea allergic patient, 100% flea control is essential for the pet to remain symptom-free. Flea prevention must be used on all pets in the household as well is in the house and yard. In warm climates or in our homes, fleas are present year-round.  Because flea allergy is so common, we may recommend that complete flea control be instituted before proceeding with diagnostics for other allergies and that year-round flea control be maintained for all allergy patients.

Food Allergy
Some pets develop specific hypersensitivities to components of their diets.  The allergen usually is a major protein or carbohydrate ingredient such as beef, chicken, fish, corn, wheat, or soy.  Minor ingredients such as preservatives or dyes are also potential allergens.  The diagnosis of food allergy requires that we test your pet by feeding special strict diets that contain only ingredients that she has never eaten before. This is often achieved by feeding a prescription diet for a period of 10 to 16 weeks.  If the signs resolve, a challenge is performed by feeding the former diet and watching for a return of the itching.  If this occurs, a diagnosis of food allergy is confirmed.  

Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis is an inherited predisposition to develop skin problems from exposure to variety of commonplace and otherwise harmless substances, including the pollens of weeds, grasses and trees, as well as house dust mites and mold spores.  Diagnosis is made based on the results of intradermal skin testing or by in vitro blood testing.  Evaluating the results of these tests helps us compile a list of allergens for a vaccine that is made to decrease the pet's sensitivity.  Sometimes multiple skin and/or blood tests are necessary to accurately assess the patient's allergies.

Secondary Infections
Allergies are often the underlying cause of recurring skin and/or ear infections.  Bacterial and yeast infections, though secondary to the allergy, can cause an increase in your pet's level of itching. Long term treatment with antibiotics and/or antifungal medications may be required as well.

Can Allergies be Cured?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for allergy and it is usually a life-long problem. We seek to control allergy and improve the quality of life for both you and your pet.  We will formulate the best program of management that suits all involved with your pet's care.  In some cases, steroids, such as prednisone tablets or steroid shots, are often employed to stop the itch.  However, without addressing the underlying cause, the itching will return.  Long-term use of steroids can result in many health problems.  This is the reason that we encourage diagnosis of the underlying cause of the allergy and more specific or less potentially harmful treatments. 

Again, allergies can be very frustrating to manage over time but getting to the root of the cause will help ensure that your cat lives comfortably with a lower rate of recurrence. And that makes everyone happier! 

Remember, next month is Senior Health Cat Month. Looking forward to seeing you and your feline family soon! 

Read past newsletters online CLICK HERE. 

Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter, 

Dr. Ann D. Middleton

Dr. Michelle R. Metcalf

and your friends at

Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center