Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center

4680 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92117


October 2009
Hello from everyone at Cheshire Cat Feline Center! We hope you will enjoy reading the first of our monthly newsletters. We are proud to provide these articles and tips along with a new service, PetSites. Did you know that your cat has his or her own personal web page? You can log in anytime to view vaccine history, reminders, invoices and more. You can request appointments, refill medication, order food and even upload your cat's photos! This is just one more way that we at Cheshire Cat can assist you in providing quality care to your feline friend.

Kitty In Costume
Halloween is just around the corner. Do you have cute and comedic pictures of your cat to share? Franken-feline? Vampire? Scardy Cat? We'd love to see them! Please email photos to Diane at and we will put them in our web photo album!
Welcome to Fall in Southern California! Although we in San Diego do not experience the striking color change of leaves and the icy cold wind begin to blow, we do have our own indications of the season.... allergies. While you may experience allergies and suffer from stuffy nose and itchy eyes, your cat has his or her own allergy symptoms. Allergies in pets can cause itching, chewing, red skin, rash, and excessive grooming.

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. 

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. While cats can rarely also have respiratory 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.  For the flea allergic patient, 100% flea control is essential for the pet to remain symptom-free.

“But doctor, I never see fleas on my pet.”
You may not see them, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.  The allergy is caused by the flea’s saliva, and it only takes a few bites to induce the problem.  Also, the itchy pet often grooms so much that adult fleas are removed, making them hard to find. 

"If fleas are the problem, why is my pet still itchy in the winter?” 
In warm climates or in our homes, fleas may survive in low numbers year-round.  Because flea allergy is so common, we 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.$0$0Food Allergy$0Some 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 (AD) 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 of AD 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 medications may be required.

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.  

Can I have the Itching Treated without the Expense of Diagnostic Testing?
Symptomatic drug therapy can help to reduce itching.  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.
Sad but true... there is no holiday from fleas in Southern California. Our temperate weather just never gets cold enough for fleas to die off. That is why the veterinarians at Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center stress the importance of year-round flea prevention. Not just pests, fleas can cause skin allergies, anemia and tapeworms as well as other diseases. Please ask a Cheshire Cat team member for a personalized flea elimination plan!
We still have three little fuzz balls looking for forever homes. Sibblings Eddie, Elsie and Zen are hoping to find loving homes with good food, a warm bed and lots of snuggles. If interested, please call us and arrange a time to meet these sweet bundles of fun.
October 12 - 19 is National Veterinary Technician Week. A veterinary technician is the nurse that works with the veterinarian to help your pet. The technician performs all sorts of tasks such as drawing blood samples, placing intravenous catheters, taking radiographs, assisting in surgery, monitoring anesthesia, performing dental cleanings and more! A Registered Veterinary Technician is an individual who has completed specific education in Animal Health and has passed a state licensing exam.

Here at Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center, we take this week to honor ALL of our veterinary team members and celebrate their hard work and dedication! If you would like to read more about our team, please visit our web site. To learn more about Veterinary Technicians, visit the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.