Category: “Cat Health”

Drugstore Care for Those After-Hour Emergencies

by Zeke Zekoff, DVM

The purpose of this paper is to introduce people who are associated with animal welfare organizations to some common first-aid techniques that can be administered to animals at times when you can’t get veterinary aid for whatever reason.  These techniques are unique in that you will be using commonly available items from the drugstore.  It seems that everywhere you turn now a days, drugstores have replaced gas stations on every major corner.  As they prepare for the baby boomers falling apart, they also stay open longer hours than a vast majority of veterinary clinics. This makes them the most likely source of pet first-aid medical supplies when you are not able to get to a veterinarian.

Many of these notes come from a presentation made to canine corps officers several years ago.  These 4-legged police officers and their two-legged partners were more often than not in harms way at night. With many cities not having veterinary emergency clinics, it seemed logical to teach the 2-legged officers how to take care of their 4-legged partners in times of medical crisis: such as hit-by-car, poisonings, lacerations and cuts, and even bullet wounds. Over the years, vets called at home have developed a knack for dissecting an owner’s health history of their pet’s ‘emergency’, and have realized that many calls were not ‘true emergencies’. With a modicum of care using supplies readily available in most people’s medicine cabinets or a nearby drugstore, most ‘emergencies’ could be handled till the next day. With this in mind, a list of commonly available drugstore first-aid items will be presented and how they can be used for your home ‘animal first-aid kit.’

Gauze sponges.  Gauze sponges are used to help dress wounds.  They can be used with water (or better yet, saline solutions) to help clean out a wound. The texture of the sponges helps to clean out debris from the wound that would normally contaminate it and introduce bacteria. After cleaning out a wound with the sponges and a liberal application of a flush solution, clean sponges can than be used to make a wound dressing. Liberal application of a triple antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin, Polysporin, or Triple Antibiotic Ointment) to the sponge, along with making it damp with a sterile saline eye wash solution, will make an excellent dressing until it can be properly taken cared of.  By making the sponge slightly damp, this allows the dressing to not get dried out and stick to the wound.  3 x 3” or 4 x 4” -sized sponges are usually the most versatile to keep around. Use the bandage materials described later to keep the dressings on.

Triple Antibiotic/Neosporin/Polysporin Ointment. These are commonly available antibiotic ointments that can be used on most skin infections and for the treatment of most wounds. You should be cautious using it around the eyes as it may inadvertently get into the eye by the animal rubbing its face.  After cleaning out a wound (as previously described), the ointment can be applied.  Ideally you should use a clean applicator device, such as a tongue depressor, or the back of a clean spoon.  By attacking the bacterial load in the ‘golden period’ of wound infection (the first 2-4 hours after a wound occurs), you can significantly decrease the chance of infection in the wound area.

Rubbing Alcohol.  Rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol) is an excellent disinfectant and can be used to kill bacteria on most things you would want to use.  Caution should be used with rubbing alcohol when getting anywhere near an open wound on a dog or cat.  Just as it ‘burns you’ when you get it in an open cut, sore, etc., it will do the same thing to an animal.  They will not just respond with yelling, but rather they may turn and try to bite the person who applied such an offending agent. If by accident you get any in the eye, flush the eye thoroughly with liberal amounts of an eyewash, or just water, if eyewash is not available.

Rubber bulb ear syringes.  These remnants from the days of our youth when we had impacted wax flushed out of our ears, have many uses. They can be used with water to flush out debris from a wound; aspirate or suction out fluids from the nostrils and mouth of your pet prior to performing CPR; in the proper situation, water and hydrogen peroxide can be mixed together to make a more efficient wound cleansing agent; they can be used to collect liquid samples of vomitus, etc. if needed to analyze a poison, etc.; and, they can also be used to flush out ear canals when necessary.

Ace bandages.  These readily available bandages have many uses. By properly applying an ace bandage to a lower appendage, they can act as a support bandage for injured toes, feet, carpal (wrist), and hock (ankle) areas of pets.  Do not apply it too tight, or it may act as a tourniquet. Ace bandages can be used to hold a temporary splint on a fractured or injured limb.  The splint can be made with a number of different objects…including rolled-up newspapers, board, etc. It can be used for holding the wound dressing on the body previously described. By applying pressure to the abdominal area in case of suspected abdominal bleeding, a properly applied large Ace bandage could help slow down blood loss and the onset of shock.  These bandages are washable and reusable.  It is recommended that you should have at least 2 Ace bandage rolls each of  the 2” and 4” sizes.

Petroleum jelly/Vaseline®.  This ‘wonder goo’ has many uses besides treating diaper rash.  One use is to lubricate a rectal thermometer before taking an animal’s temperature. After a wound area is flushed out, it can be applied in a liberal amount, mixed in with a triple antibiotic ointment, to keep a wound area from ‘drying out’ and sticking to any bandage materials.  This is especially useful when you have a thermal burn wound as fluid loss can be critical from this type of wound. Degloving injuries and ‘road burns’ that occur during hit-by-cars (HBC) are also another area where petroleum jelly applied to your dressing can be a tremendous help. Do not use petroleum jelly dressings on chemical burns as their moisture-retention ability may also keep the chemical irritant trapped on the body. Petroleum jelly can also serve as a laxative, as it is the basis for most hairball laxatives.  Most cats would be given ½ to 1 teaspoon applied on their paws, face, or in their mouth.

Eye wash.   It is important to always have a good eye flush solution readily available. Most drugstores sell saline eyewash that can be gotten for less than $2.00 for a 12 oz. Bottle. Having more than one on hand would be better. Contaminants that can get into the eye include dust, chemicals, smoke, insects (when those dogs that are determined to replay the Titanic scene by sticking their head out of the window of a car), grass awns, and even dirty water from contaminated ponds and streams. A good, liberal flow into the affected eye is important. Have the animal look at the ceiling or sky and keep flushing for 1 –2 minutes. Many people will think to try a Visine® or such substance in the eye. It is much better to use water than this.  For eye care, it is important to not put anything into an animal’s eye that you wouldn’t put in your own, but Visine and contact solutions are exceptions to this.  If your pet is squinting badly, light-sensitive and constantly rubbing its eye, this may indicate that it has scratched its cornea.  This is a painful injury, and seeking veterinary care should be a priority.

Non-stick Wound Pads.  These wound-dressing pads, which come in sterile wrappers, are usually 3 x 3” or 4 x 4”.  They make great wound dressings that you can use with your triple antibiotic ointment and Vaseline/ petroleum jelly.  They are better for final wound dressings than gauze sponges.

Stretch gauze bandages.  These one-time use bandages are great for helping to keep wound dressings on.  The stretch-feature will help to accommodate any swelling that normally accompanies most trauma wounds. It reduces the chance that the bandage will become a tourniquet when applied.  Having said that, it is important that these bandages are NOT applied too tight. The looser, the better.

Cloth tape.  This type of tape is important to help keep wound dressings where they are supposed to be.  It is important to involve the animal’s hair into the tape as it is applied.  This will assure you that the dressing won’t end up on the floor of your car.

Blankets.   These are not readily available at most drugstores, but do have many uses. In cases of trauma where shock may set in, they can be used to keep the animal warm. Rolled up, it can be used as a support bandage for neck wounds, fractured limbs, and pressure support around the abdomen to help ward off shock.  They also make great stretchers, and help to contain an injured cat that may be aggressive due to pain.

Tweezers.   These are important to help pull debris out of wound, objects out or mouths without getting your fingers involved, and such items as insect stingers and spine needles from cacti.

Splints.   Splints can be bought custom-made, but they can also be made out of a number of materials.  These include newspapers, branches, boards, and any other straight and hard object.  With a roll of roll-cotton, a splint, and an Ace bandage or Vet wrap, you can make a very stabilizing bandage called a Robert Jones bandage. These are great for stabilizing lower leg fractures of animals until veterinary attention can be sought.

Rectal Thermometers.   Thermometers serve a purpose when you are worried about hypothermia (low body temperature) and hyperthermia (high body temperature such as may occur in a heat stroke).  The important thing to remember is that the normal canine and feline body temperature ranges between 101.0 degrees F. and 102.5 degrees F.  Do not use a ‘warm nose’ as your determinant of a fever in an animal.  Also remember to lubricate the thermometer, have someone holding the animal’s head when inserting the thermometer, insert it in at least 1 ½ inches, and read after one minute.

VetRap® bandage material.  This is a bandage material that can be acquired in feed stores, Western stores (used a lot in horses), and your favorite veterinary clinic.  This ‘self-stick’ bandage has a lot of uses in cases of emergencies.  You must be careful to apply it without too much stretching of the bandage, as stretching it too tight may make it a tourniquet. By not overstretching it when applying it, it can be removed and used several times.  Have 2” and 4” rolls available.

Ziplock bags.  Many uses for this kitchen favorite.  Among them are storage containers for samples of body fluids, contaminants, etc.; temporary ice bags; helping to keep your first-aid supplies dry till you need them, and water-proof bags to keep feet injuries dry.  One quart and one gallon ziplock bags are good sizes to have.

Muzzle.   This overlooked item can be very useful if you are confronted with an injured and painful dog.  No matter how well any dog is trained, pain from trauma might induce a dog to turn on you no matter how close you and the dog are.  You can get soft, nylon quick-release muzzles through your veterinarian’s distributors; use a doubled-up gauze bandage roll from the drugstore in looping fashion; or use a belt you may have on. Be sure to have your veterinarian or one of the staff members of the clinic show you how to properly apply a muzzle the next time you are in. the clinic.  Be prepared in advance for this one.  You cannot help if you are treating a bite wound on yourself.

  • Pepto Bismol® tablets (bismuth subsulfate).   (NOT TO BE GIVEN TO CATS)

These are good for non-complicated cases of vomiting in the dog.  The ingredients in this tablet have proven anti-inflammatory properties in the GI tract and also help to apply a protectant lining to the stomach.  Tablets are usually easier to administer vs. liquids. The approximate dose is one adult tablet/ 15 – 25# of dog’s body weight every 8 – 12 hours.  Two precautions.  This tablet will make the dog’s bowel movement appear very dark for several days.  The second is that if your veterinarian has to take a radiograph of your dog’s abdomen soon after administering the tablet, the tablet will appear to be a metallic-density foreign object in your dog’s abdomen and may lead to an in-correct diagnosis of a foreign body that is causing all the problems.  Be sure to let your veterinarian know what medications you have administered.

  • Kaopectate® tablets.   (NOT TO BE GIVEN TO CATS)  The kaolin and pectin in these tablets are especially useful in helping to the line the intestinal tract of a dog with diarrhea. The usual dose is 1 tablet (less messy than liquid) for every 25 – 30 lbs. of dog’s body weight, given every 8 – 12 hours.

  • Benadryl® (diphenhydramine).   This antihistamine can be very useful for very pruritic (itchy) dogs, motion sickness, and for allergic reactions such as from a bee sting.  Adult Benadryl® is available in 25mg capsules or tablets, or 25mg/5ml (teaspoon). Children’s Benadryl® is available in 12.5mg chewable tablets or 12.5mg/5 ml (teaspoon).  The approximate dose is 0.5 to  1mg/lb of body weight every 8 – 12 hours.  For example, a 25# dog would get one half to one adult tablet every 8 – 12 hours. Drowsiness and a dry mouth will be the main side effects you may see.  In cases of allergic insect sting reactions where the face and muzzle swells up suddenly, giving this antihistamine soon after seeing the symptoms can help alleviate the discomfort.  The same doses can also be used to help alleviate intense itching from skin problems, as well as decrease the side effects of motion sickness. This medication is also available in a 1% and 2% ointment that can be used on the skin to help treat ‘hot spots’ or acute moist dermatitis of the skin.
  • 1% Hydrocortisone cream.  This popular over-the-counter steroid itchy-skin remedy can also be used in dogs and cats.  If your dog has a ‘hot spot’ (which is the laymen’s term for acute moist dermatitis), it can drive your dog to further inflict damage to itself.  These can literally come up ‘over night’.  Most are painful as they are deep-seated infections that involve the superficial pain nerve endings in the skin.  Until you get professional help for your pet, the best thing that you can do is to begin treatment by gently washing the inflamed area with a mixture of 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide to 2 parts of water. Be sure to have someone restrain the head of your dog.  After washing the area, dry the area by pat drying with a soft towel. You can begin treatment by mixing a 50:50 mix of 1% hydrocortisone cream and triple antibiotic ointment (Neosporin or polysporin also works) and applying a thin layer to the affected skin. Take your dog for a walk afterwards to give the treatment time to work and take its mind off from wanting to lick the area.
  • Aspirin.   (NOT TO BE GIVEN TO CATS)  Used correctly, aspirin is a very effective analgesic (pain reliever), anti-inflammatory, and fever reducer in dogs.  It is considered in a class of drugs called NonSteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID). This class of drugs can be very irritating to the stomach and can cause everything from vomiting/nausea to bleeding gastric ulcers. It needs to be used at the proper dosage and frequency.  At any signs of nausea or vomiting, you should not continue the drug.  Giving it with a little bit of food in the stomach may help prevent these side effects. The usual dose is 1 – 5grain (325mg) adult aspirin/ 60 lbs. of dog’s body weight every 12 hours.  A ‘baby aspirin’ or low-dose adult aspirin contains 1 ¼ grain (or approximately 81mg) and would be appropriate for a 15 lb. dog every 12 hours.
  • 3% Hydrogen Peroxide.   This inexpensive solution is a part of many drug cabinets, and has many uses.  The first use is to help wash out wounds and clean the debris, blood and dirt out of a wound.  The foaming action helps to break up the dirt and clear out bacterial contaminants.  It can also be damaging to tissues, so diluting it with water will make it safer.  DO NOT pour peroxide into any puncture wounds as the sudden foaming action will cause gas production and stretch the skin and subcutaneous with resultant sharp pain and discomfort. This would be a situation where the animal could turn around and bite due to the pain.

    3% hydrogen peroxide is also an effective emetic (causing vomiting)…DO NOT USE THE 20% SOLUTION USED TO BLEACH HAIR!  If your pet has swallowed something such as chocolate, pills on your bed stand, etc., it has occurred in the last 15 – 20 minutes, and if you are advised to make your pet vomit, you can administer 3% hydrogen peroxide with a tablespoon to get it to vomit the substance up.  Do not use it if you have seen your pet swallow a sharp object or a caustic substance.  This is a true emergency, and the pet must be seen soon.  The effective dose, in those situations when you can use it, is 5 –25 ml (1-5 tsp.)/ 10 lb. of body weight to the back of the throat.  You can repeat it every 5 – 10 minutes for 2 – 3x. The vomitus that comes up will be white and very foamy and hopefully have the offending agent in it.  After the vomiting episode, your dog or cat will feel very sheepish.  You may try giving your dog a slice or two of water-soaked white bread to settle its stomach.  This usually works faster and better than syrup of ipecac.  If you have some of it (ipecac), the dose is 1- 2ml/kg in dogs and 3 – 6ml/kg in cats, but sometimes in can take up to 20 – 40 minutes to induce vomiting.  In cats it works best if diluted 50:50 with water and given 6ml/kg of body weight. The viscosity of syrup of ipecac is similar to motor oil.

Common Sense Numbers That You Can Use

1 kilogram (kg) = 2.2 pounds

…..if you want to rough it, make a kilogram equal to 2 pounds, i.e. a 20 pound dog = 10 kg. (rather than 9.09 kg.)…it will do in a pinch.

1 Milliliter (ml) approx = 1 cubic centimeter (cc).  These terms are used interchangeably.

  •  5 ml = 1 teaspoon
  •  3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
  •  15 ml = 1 tablespoon
  •  2 tablespoons = 1 ounce (oz.)
  •  30 ml = 1 oz.
  •  Therefore, 1 oz. = 6 teaspoons
    1 cup = 8 ounces
  •  240 ml = 8 oz.
  •  2 cups = 1 pint (pt)
  •  2 pints = 1 quart (qt)
  •  1 quart is approximately = to 1 liter or 1000 ml.

1 grain = 65 mg., therefore a normal 5 grain aspirin tablet is equal to 325 mg.

A baby aspirin or low-dose adult aspirin is 1 ¼ grain or approx. 81mg; it takes 4 baby aspirins to equal 1 adult aspirin.

A dog and cat’s normal rectal body temperature (with rectal thermometer staying in for 1 minute) ranges from 101.0 degrees Fahrenheit – 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.  This normal range may vary depending on the dog or cat’s activities and the environmental temperature (there are many ‘normal and healthy’ dogs who have a 103.0 +/- degree Fahrenheit temperature due to excitement and hot days). ALL DOGS HAVE A TEMPERATURE, NOT ALL DOGS HAVE A FEVER!

Respiratory rate of healthy, resting dog: (young) 20 – 22 breaths/minute and for old dogs 14 –16 breaths/minute.

Heart rate of healthy, resting dog: Young dog:  110-120 beats/minute; Dog of large breed, adult:  60 – 80 beats/minute; Dog of small breed, adult: 80 – 120 beats/minute. 


What is PlaqueOff? ProDen PlaqueOff is an innovation in pet dental care! Suitable for dogs and cats, PlaqueOff is made from natural plant marine algae D1070 and comes in a granulated powder form. Rich in natural iodine, free of artificial coloring, preservatives, gluten, salt and sugar, PlaqueOff has been clinically proven to reduce and help prevent plaque and tartar.

D1070 (Ascophyllum nodosum) is seaweed harvested from the clean and cold seas of Norway and Iceland. It has a high content of fucose-containing sulphated polysaccharides. These compounds interfere with bacterial growth, colonization, and calculus deposition. When D1070 is absorbed into the bloodstream, it prevents plaque from sticking to your pet’s teeth. Existing tartar becomes porous and is then easily removable by brushing, cleaning, or bone chewing. D1070 also helps to whiten teeth and freshen breath.

Iodine can be very beneficial to your pet’s overall health. It helps with proper thyroid function, balancing hypertension, cardiovascular health, bone pain and healing, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, kidney and bladder infections, constipation, cancer, skin diseases, and respiratory disorders.

Why use PlaqueOff? It is estimated 85% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of 3 years show signs of gum disease, the major cause of tooth loss. Gum disease is caused by the accumulation of plaque bacteria and is converted to calculus by the minerals naturally occurring in saliva. Untreated plaque and tartar build-up can also lead to infections that can spread throughout the body and damage the heart, lungs, liver or kidneys. Since daily brushing of your cat or dog’s teeth can be difficult to achieve, PlaqueOff – used in conjunction with regular bone chewing – provides an easy solution to improving your pet’s oral hygiene. In addition, the iodine levels found in PlaqueOff are crucial in boosting the immune system and can help fight off any gum disease related problems.

When should PlaqueOff be used?  PlaqueOff should be added to dry or wet food on a daily basis to combat existing tartar and plaque build up and to maintain your pet’s oral health. Each bottle contains a serving spoon to measure out the proper amount. Cats and small dogs (up to 25 lbs): ½-1 scoop. Medium sized dogs (25-50 lbs): 1-2 scoops. Large and giant dogs (50+ lbs): 2-3 scoops.


Ringworm is a fungal infection caused by a fungus that grows in the dead, surface layers of the skin, hair or claws.It has nothing to do with worms. The scientific name for ringworm is dermatophytosis and the fungi which cause the disease are called dermatophytes.

Some cats can have ringworm and show no signs of it. Signs can include patches of hair loss and/or a red,scaley circle on the skin. If you have more than one cat, it will not matter which one has is – ringworm is contagious, you will have to treat all of the animals anyway. Treatment usually lasts about 6-8 weeks, but you must stick with it. Here are some suggestions on how to treat the condition.

There are approximately 40 different species of dermatophyte, with 119 known strands, each tending to cause infection in particular species of hosts. In the cat, the cause of more than 90% of cases of ringworm is the dermatophyte Microsporum canis (M canis). This organism can also cause infection in many other species, including dogs and humans. Other dermatophytes that may cause ringworm in cats are Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Microsporum persicolor, which can be acquired by contact with infected wild rodents.

Ringworm infections are often self-limiting, clearing up in 6 to 8 weeks whether they are treated or not. However, this is not always the case and there are cats who have very persistent problems with ringworm. In addition, many of the cats who no longer have ringworm lesions are still carriers of the disease. For this reason, we favor treatment of cats when we grow ringworm organisms from cultures.

Dept of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, evaluated seven commonly used topical antifungal products (i.e., lime sulfur [Lymdyp], chlorhexidine, captan, povidone-iodine, sodium hypochlorite, and enilconazole solutions, and ketoconazole shampoo). These products were evaluated for their antifungal activity on Microsporum canis-infected hairs from dogs and cats in an in-vitro study. Hairs were soaked or shampooed in each product for five minutes twice a week for four weeks. Of the seven products used in this study, lime sulfur and enilconazole solutions were superior in inhibiting fungal growth; no growth occurred on fungal cultures after two treatments with either product.

Chlorhexidine and povidone iodine solutions were effective after four treatments, and sodium hypochlorite solution and ketoconazole shampoo inhibited fungal growth after eight treatments. Captan did not inhibit fungal growth during the test period.

White-Weithers N, Medleau L.

Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens 30602, USA.

PMID: 7634061 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

How do cats become infected with M canis ?

Ringworm is contagious. Spores are the infectious stage of dermatophytes and are produced by M canis during an infection. They are typically found in clusters around infected hairs and can only be seen using a microscope. Infected hairs are shed into the cat’s environment. Cats may become infected either by direct contact with an infected animal or by exposure to a contaminated environment or object, such as grooming tools, clippers or bedding. Spores in the environment are very robust and without treatment can remain infectious for approximately two years.

Spores attach to the skin and germinate to produce hyphae that invade skin and hair. It is not known how many spores are needed to start an infection. Self-grooming, particularly licking, may be an effective way of harmlessly removing spores from the skin and haircoat. Intact skin is very resistant to infection. Cats with pre-existing skin disease or other conditions resulting in skin trauma such as flea, lice or mite infestations are much more likely to become infected following exposure to spores.

Ringworm seems to be more common in young cats less than one year old, and in long-haired cats. The reasons for this are unknown. It is speculated that young cats may have immature immune defense mechanisms which limits their ability to resist infection, and too young kittens just don’t spend very much time in washing themselves. In long-haired cats grooming is less efficient and the skin surface is more protected from exposure to the sun (which dermatophytes don’t like) than in short-haired cats.

What does a cat with ringworm look like?

The appearance of cats with ringworm is very variable. Some cats have severe skin disease while other cats have only very minor lesions or no lesions at all and look completely normal. Typical skin lesions are discrete, roughly circular, areas of hair loss, particularly on the head, ears or extremities of the paws. The hairs surrounding affected areas appear broken. The affected skin is often scaly and may look inflamed. However, ringworm can look very similar to many other feline skin diseases, such a flea allergic dermatitis, symmetrical alopecia and feline acne. Some loss of hair is usually involved, but the amount of inflammation, scaling and itchiness can be very variable. In very unusual cases cats may appear just to have an ear infection or infection of the claws.

How is ringworm diagnosed?

It is impossible to diagnose a cat as having ringworm based on its appearance alone because this is so variable and can easily be confused with other skin diseases, or look like a normal cat. Diagnostic tests are used to confirm the presence of M canis or other dermatophytes. Most veterinary dermatologists will use at least one of these tests on any cat with skin disease to investigate the possibility that ringworm might be involved.

1.The ultraviolet Wood’s lamp can be used to examine cats suspected of having ringworm. It is shone onto the haircoat in a dark room and infected hairs may fluoresce (or glow) with a characteristic apple-green colour. The fluorescence is thought to be caused by a substance produced by M canis. Unfortunately, not all dermatophyte species, or varieties of M canis,fluoresce, so failure to demonstrate fluorescent hairs does not rule out the possibility of ringworm. In addition, extraneous substances may cause a similar fluorescence. For these reasons the result of Wood’s lamp examination is not definitive, but it can provide a very useful method of selecting hairs for further examination, either by fungal culture or microscopic examination.

2. Microscopic examination of suspect hairs can provide a very rapid positive diagnosis. The observer looks for fungal elements and spores associated with hairs. Interpretation can be difficult and it is best performed by an experienced mycologist. It is not possible to determine which species of dermatophyte is involved. A negative result is unreliable and may only mean that the sample of hairs examined was not representative and did not include infected hairs.

3. Fungal culture is the most reliable way of diagnosing ringworm. Cat hairs are collected and used to inoculate plates of a special culture medium, which are then incubated in a laboratory. Hairs for culture can be selected because they are damaged or closely associated with skin lesions or because they fluoresce when examined with the Wood’s lamp. Hairs are collected from cats that look completely normal by whole body brushing using a sterile toothbrush or massage brush. Culture enables precise identification of the species of dermatophyte involved, but because dermatophytes are slow growing it may take several weeks for laboratories to report a result. A positive result indicates that the cat is infected with ringworm or is carrying dermatophytes on its coat (due to exposure to an infected environment). If one cat in a household is diagnosed as having ringworm then all of the other animals will need to be examined, even if they seem to be completely unaffected. In most cases all cats in a household will be culture-positive and require treatment.

How is ringworm treated?

Although in most healthy cats ringworm infection will resolve spontaneously after many weeks, treatment is necessary in all cases to speed this up because of the risk of infection of humans and contact animals. Some cats will not eliminate infection unless they are treated. In some cases, prolonged courses of treatment will be needed to achieve a cure. Treatment can be broken down into several elements, all of which are essential.

  1. Treatment of any other skin conditions
    Any pre-existing skin condition or parasitic infestation (fleas, lice, mites) which causes skin damage should be treated specifically as it could be causing skin damage which predisposes the cat to ringworm.
  2. Treatment of ringworm

All affected animals should be treated by administration of (a) tablets (systemic therapy) and (b) treatment applied directly to the haircoat (topical therapy).

(a) Systemic therapy : Griseofulvin is the drug most commonly used for the treatment of dermatophytosis and is the only anti-fungal medicine that is licensed (FDA approved) for use in the cat. Absorption of the drug can be improved by giving fat, oil or a fatty meal at the same time as the tablets. Griseofulvin should not be used in pregnant animals because it can cause neo-natal abnormalities. Pregnant women should avoid handling griseofulvin. Griseofulvin can cause other unwanted side effects, such as causing liver damage, so if a cat receiving treatment becomes i,ll this medicine should be stopped and veterinary advice sought. Cats with feline immunodeficiency virus infection (FIV) are much more susceptible to dangerous side effects, so your vet may recommend a screening test for FIV before starting therapy. Alternative drugs are now available and may be used in cats that will not tolerate or are unresponsive to griseofulvin. These are all human medicines and are expensive.

Internal medications are most effective at treating infection. Systemic therapy with griseofulvin, terbinafine, ketoconazole, itraconazole, fluconazole, or lufenuron is recommended for inflammatory varieties. The following regimens are recommended:

Drug Regimen
Griseofulvin 500 mg once daily for 4-6 weeks
Fluconazole 150 mg once daily for 4-6 weeks
Itraconazole 100 mg daily for 1-2 weeks
Terbinafine 250 mg daily for 2-4 weeks
  • Lufenuron (Program Rx), Cats and dogs: 80-100 mg/kg, Cats in catteries: at least 100 mg/kg
    The treatment should be repeated once every two weeks until at least two consecutive fungal cultures are negative over a period of two weeks.

(b) Topical therapy : Spot therapy with one of the human anti-fungal creams is not recommended for animals because the area of infected skin is often considerably wider than the skin lesions might suggest. Topical therapy is best applied to the whole body by either shampooing or dipping (using a sulpher based product called Lymdyp which is available without a prescription on the internet). Clipping of cats will make this much easier, particularly for long-haired cats, and also reduce environmental contamination. Clipping should be done carefully in order to avoid damaging the skin, as this can spread infection and make the skin lesions look worse for a short time. It is normally necessary to sedate cats to clip them safely. Infected hair should be disposed of by burning and clippers should be decontaminated properly using one of the products suggested below. There is a “vaccination” for ringworm. It is effective at controlling clinical symptoms of ringworm but not at preventing the actual infection. In a humane society situation this may not be a satisfactory solution to ringworm infection since suppressing the symptoms would make it even more difficult to identify carriers. Cleanliness and routine disinfection are still the best options for controlling ringworm in a shelter situation.

The only product licensed for the topical treatment of ringworm in cats, in conjunction with griseofulvin, is a shampoo (Malaseb: Leo Labs). It is usually used twice a week. The coat is first completely wetted and the shampoo is then lathered on and massaged well down into the skin. The shampoo is left in contact with the skin for 10 minutes (timed with a clock) before rinsing. Most cats tolerate this remarkably well. Leo labs have produced a leaflet giving tips about shampooing cats.

3.  Decontamination of the environment and contaminated objects

If possible, infected cats should be restricted to one easily cleanable room. This makes decontamination much easier and will reduce exposure of humans to the cats and sources of infection. All areas of the house to which infected animals have had access will require decontamination, but the majority of effort can then be concentrated on the room in which the cats are confined.

Any contaminated objects such as collars, baskets, igloos, bedding, soft toys and grooming tools which cannot be disinfected should be disposed of, preferably by burning. Many chemical disinfectants claim to have good activity against fungi but few are very effective against ringworm spores. Products that do work include Clorox Bleach (original, not scented) ( 1 part bleach to 11 parts water has some activity), Enilconazole and Virkon (a disinfectant powder) both available from vets.

These disinfectants should be used daily on hard surfaces and objects such as feeding bowls, but cannot be used on carpets and soft furnishings. On these surfaces daily thorough vacuuming is the only practical method of reducing contamination. Vacuum bags should be disposed of by burning. Steam cleaning is of limited use because the temperature of the water delivered is insufficient to kill spores.

How long will it take for my cat to get better?

Treatment should be continued until all of the affected animals have recovered and are negative on fungal cultures. Skin lesions will often resolve before the cats have eliminated the fungal infection (usually 4 weeks after lesions are gone), so it is necessary to monitor progress by taking hair samples (whole body brushing) for fungal culture. If treatment is stopped prematurely the ringworm may seem to reoccur after a time, although in fact it was never eliminated. In most cases, cats will need treatment for a minimum of six weeks, and in some cases much longer. Typically, the more cats in a household the harder it is to resolve the problem.

M canis infection in humans

Ringworm can easily be spread from people to people and people to cats. Children are particularly at risk. Direct contact with infected animals should be minimized. Gloves and protective clothing should be worn when administering treatment. Efficient environmental decontamination will reduce exposure to dermatophyte spores.

Dermatophytosis in humans presents as circular patches of thickened, inflamed skin or hair loss with scaling. These may be itchy. Lesions may occur anywhere on the skin or scalp. If any skin lesions develop the family doctor should be consulted. Ringworm in humans usually responds well to treatment. Topical therapy is useful in cases of noninflammatory lesions. This can play a very important role in reducing environmental contamination.

Is it an Emergency?


If your pet has any of these symptoms, bring in IMMEDIATELY


Symptom: With:
Inability to Breathe Noisy respiration, blue tongue, gasping for breath
Bleeding That Won’t Stop From any part of the body – Apply pressure and come in now!
Inability to Urinate or Appears Constipated But continues to try
Inability to Deliver Puppies or Kittens Keeps trying or has stopped trying
Pain Severe – Continuous with no relief
Vomiting, Diarrhea Continuous or with the Appearance of Blood
Loss of Balance or Consciousness Includes tremors, coma, staggering, blindness, fainting
Itching Continuous scratching, biting, self-mutilation
Penetrating Wounds Any place, but especially chest or abdomen
Poisoning Bring the container or commercial name and chemical name
Injury Continuous pain and/or total lameness
Hit by car
Any other sign that looks serious!


If your pet has any of these symptoms, bring in TODAY


Symptom With
Difficult Breathing With or without cough; eats and drinks; not frantic
Vomiting / Diarrhea Without blood; no pain; no unusual contents
Sudden Lameness No apparent cause
Swallowed Object Even if you THINK pet swallowed it
Severe Itching With possible self-mutilation
Strange Odor Usually disagreeable, from any part of the body
Burns Heat; chemicals; Go Immediately if Extensive
Injuries Not severe emergency but will worsen with delay- lacerations


If your pet has any of these symptoms, it is safe to wait OVERNIGHT


Symptom With
Vomiting / Diarrhea No blood; no foreign material; no pain; not continuous
Itching Mild to moderate; no skin damage; not continuous; no bleeding
Lameness Little or no pain; no discomfort in walking; not continuous
Thirst / Urination Excessive drinking and/or elimination of urine with no blood, no pain, no straining or discomfort, or bloody appearance to the urine
Loss of Appetite Skipped one main meal, but no other signs of illness
Most Skin Problems

Why Altering is Medically Best for Your Pet

Why Spaying/Neutering Is Medically Best For Your Pet
By Dr B. Griffin Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine

For your MALE dog or cat:
Intact males are at risk to develop serious problems such as:

  • Testicular Cancer
  • Prostate Disease
  • Hernias
  • Perianal Tumors

For your FEMALE dog or cat:

Spayed females are often healthier than those who are not spayed.

  • Intact females may develop such problems as:
  • Breast Cancer
  • Ovarian or Uterine Cancer
  • Uterine Infections
  • Vaginal Prolapse

These problems can be life-threatening.

Breast cancer occurs more frequently in dogs and cats than in humans.

Mammary tumors are the most common tumors in female dogs and nearly 50% are malignant. A dog spayed before she has had her first heat cycle has virtually NO RISK of developing breast cancer. Her risk dramatically increases if she is allowed to experience heat cycles.

In cats, mammary tumors are the 3rd most common type of cancer and nearly 90% are malignant. They have usually spread to other parts of the body by the time they are diagnosed. A cat spayed before she is 2 years of age is 7 TIMES LESS likely to develop mammary tumors.

Significant Reductions In Behavior Problems

For your MALE cat:

  • Reduced in 90% of cases for adult males 5 months or older
  • Most early spay/neuter kittens will not learn to spray later unless allowed outside to be taught by a local tomcat.
  • The strong urine odor of an intact cat is significantly reduced within days of neuter surgery.

Roaming drive is reduced.

Tendency for inter-cat fighting is reduced.

For your FEMALE cat:

  • Reduced in 95% of cases for adult females 5 months or older

Roaming drive is reduced.

Contribution to Pet Overpopulation Problem

For your MALE or FEMALE cat:
Intact cats contribute to the breeding of excess pets that must later be euthanized

  • Cats can be sexually active as early as four months of age.
  • Females typically have two litters per year, with 2.8 female kittens surviving.
  • Properly caring for and placing a liter of kittens can be very expensive
  • Include costs of 4 vet checkups for mom and kittens (with shots most visits), spaying of all the kittens, diarhea medication, flea control (on older kittens).
  • Kittens require time to socialize them to become good pets and time to take them to the Vets.

Giving away or selling unaltered kittens shows a void in consciousness of the pet overpopulation problem and the difficulties that face the future generations of your mom cat.

Stress in Cats

JUST LIKE US, cats can suffer from an overload of stress. How much is too much will depend on a number of factors: the stress `immunization’ that the cat received as a kitten, the coping strategies that the cat has learned as a result of this process, and the duration and nature of the stressor.

What do cats find stressful?

Interestingly, nearly all the triggers which will cause or exacerbate stress in cats are environmental. These environmental triggers can result in the cat having an emotional reaction which can affect behavior and, eventually, their health too.

In my experience, the most common stressors for cats are those which appear to threaten their resources, particularly the inner security of their homes. The threat of another cat coming into their `den’, a new baby in the home, a puppy, or even builders, can trigger off an immense psychological reaction in some sensitive cats, which can be hard to rectify, particularly if the `threat’ is permanent.

How do they demonstrate this?

Unlike humans, cats are unable to show their emotional state through language or facial expression. Instead, they reveal their feelings in ways which can be distressing, if not distasteful, to their human owners.

In the short-term, cats under pressure or feeling anxious may show their feelings by increasing activities which usually make them feel more secure. Some cats may cling to you more, or may rub the furniture or their owners more frequently. Cats which are facing trauma outside may choose to stay indoors more, while those facing stress in the home may spend prolonged periods outside.

In the absence of relief from the stress, cats may increase their marking behavior dramatically. Scratching, spraying urine, and middening (deliberately depositing feces somewhere noticeable!) may be an attempt to regain the security that they once had in the home, while leaving home altogether may appear to be the only option for cats which can no longer face the interior of the `den’.

Occasionally, in our behavior practice, we see cats which are so overcome by anxiety or stress that they simply give up attempting to fight it or flee from it, and become passive and unresponsive. This extreme kind of learned helplessness is thankfully rare, but can mean that the cat no longer washes itself, loses interest in food and remains almost motionless for long periods of time. In certain respects, this could be likened to the symptoms of severe clinical depression in humans, where any kind of behavior is suppressed and unrewarding.

Long term, stress has been shown to increase the risks of illness and disease. Animals and people which are suffering from chronic, irresolvable stress may start to have immune breakdown as the body struggles to cope with being under constant threat. Interestingly, infections and digestive complaints are common in stressed individuals, and seem to form a vicious cycle of illness, fatigue and a consequential inability to deal with the emotional problem that caused the clinical weakness in the first place.

What can we do to prevent this stress?

Many examples of human and other species’ behavior suggests that animals which have many chances to experience and resolve low-level stress when young, manage stressful situations far better as adults. This is because the individual has become slightly desensitized to the effects of stress during those early weeks and has learned coping strategies which can then be applied to other similar situations in later life. The stage that cats learn to handle stress without undue anxiety is very early indeed — between two and seven weeks of age. This means that an unstimulating, unchallenging environment will leave a kitten with very few emotional defense mechanisms — no matter how well he or she was cared for at the time. Ideally, all kittens should be thoroughly handled by as many different people as possible during these critical weeks. Altering their environment to allow kittens to learn for themselves is also essential, as those kittens which have had a chance to become familiar with all the chaotic sights, sounds and smells of a domestic home will have a huge head-start. Allowing kittens to meet and mix with friendly dogs, children, and all manner of people will act as `stress immunization’ in order to protect them later in life.

How can you tell if your cat is suffering from a stress overload?

Sudden behavioral changes should always be reported to your vet, as they may indicate that there is a clinical problem which needs investigation.

However, once this possibility has been rejected, the next part of the detective work is to look for signs of potential stress. Ask yourself when the cat started to behave differently. Did this coincide with an unusual occurrence in the home? For some over-attached cats, even a brief absence from their owner can be traumatic. This can make holiday times a nightmare, as the presence of a stranger in the home (no matter how kind!) to feed and care for them just does not help.

What can you do to alleviate this stress?

Of course, the easy answer is to identify the cause of the stress and remove it! However, this can often be easier than it sounds. Offering more resources, as well as safe hiding places away from permanent stressors, such as babies and dogs can often work well, as can removing the cat from the environment while temporary stressors, such as building work, are present. Ironically, for the over-attached cat, a good cattery may be a far better option than being cared for at home during holidays. This is probably because the total change has a lesser overall impact on the cat than the very obvious absence of the owner.

Overall, awareness is the key. Those who enjoy close, attentive relationships with their cats often spot the early stages of the effects of stress, and can prevent them from escalating towards distress, before long-lasting damage has been done.

Second Hand Smoke

It surprises me how often we do things that potentially hurt the ones we love the most, usually without thinking. The only thing our K9 friends want, besides food, is to be with us and please us. Our feline friends, of course, want nothing better than for us to serve them. But in either case their main concern is for us to be near and spend time with them.

Physically, and biologically, there are many differences between the dog, the cat, and humans, but there are also many similarities. Included in these similarities is how they respond to environmental toxins. I’m speaking of a directly controllable toxin in the form of second hand smoke. For those of us who are non-smokers, it’s easily detectable which animals belong to households where people smoke. Even after a day or two of hospitalization, the smoke is detectable on their fur. As much as this toxic substance coats the exterior of the pet, it also coats the interior and absorbs into the lung tissue and blood stream. We frequently see the same types of problems in pets as we do in humans relating to the second hand smoke. Included in these are lung disease, cancer, liver disease, heart disease, kidney disease, asthma and many more. The one component that lowers the instance of complications from this toxin is that our pets’ life expectancy is so much shorter than ours. Fifty years of smoke is much more damaging than twelve years. Could we make that life expectancy greater without the smoke?

About a year ago I treated a beautiful 7 year old Old English Sheepdog named Bentley for lymphoma (a generalized type of cancer that attacks the lymph system). Bentley lived in a wonderful home where he meant the world to his owners. But both of them were avid smokers and every time Bentley came to see us, he reeked of smoke. After some very aggressive chemo-therapy, Bentley did very well for about a year. Unfortunately, Bentley just recently passed away from complications of the spread of the cancer.

Unlike our friends and family members, our pets don’t know that they are slowly being poisoned. All they want is to be with us, yet they can’t ask us not to smoke around them. So I’ll ask for them. Please, quit smoking (for your own health), if you must smoke, please do it outside or in a well ventilated area away form your pets.

Thanks and your friends will thank you in this life and the next.  If you have a friend or family member who smokes, and loves their pet, print and send them this letter.
Thom Myers D.V.M


Choosing the correct food

  • Kitten Foods
  • Adult Foods
  • Lite and Less Active Foods
  • Senior Foods

Cats are carnivores, meat eaters, and they require meat protein to maintain good health. People have sometimes attempted to feed cats a vegetarian diet. The animals first suffer from diarrhea and blindness, then later die.

Growth / Kitten Foods
Kitten foods are intended to be fed to growing kittens. Higher levels of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals characterize growth diets. This is necessary to meet the growing kitten’s higher energy and nutrient requirements. Pound-for-pound, kittens need as much as 3-4 times the nutrients needed by an adult cat. Because growth diets contain extra nutrients they are also ideal for feeding pregnant and nursing cats.
Adult Foods
Adult foods are intended to be fed to moderately active adult cats. They contain moderate amounts of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. Many adult diets are now formulated to help reduce the risk of urinary tract and hairball problems. To be effective it is recommended that these diets are fed “free choice,” allowing the cat to nibble through out the day. More sedentary adult cats can be fed “light” formulas. Older adult cats should be fed senior formulas.

Food For Thought-Make a food switch slowly.

Entice an unwilling pet to accept a new food by feeding 75 percent of the current food with 25 percent of the new food for two days. Continue by feeding 50 percent of each food for two more days. Then feed 25 percent of the current food mixed with 75 percent of the new food for two additional days. Once your pet has gone through these six days of transition, it is okay to feed only the new food.

Lite/Less Active Foods
Two types of foods fall into this category, “light” foods and “less active” or “reduced calorie” foods. The term “light,” when used for pet foods, is regulated by law so these foods are very low in fat and calories and much higher in fiber than regular adult foods. They are especially appropriate for weight loss and can be used for more sedentary cats who require fewer calories.
“Less active” or “reduced calorie” foods have less calories and fat than regular adult foods but more calories than “light” foods. They also have much less fiber than “light” foods. Because they are higher in calorie than “light” foods they are better suited for weight maintenance of more sedentary cats than for weight loss in cats already overweight.
Cats are particularly finicky eaters and such weight loss programs should be instituted under the guidance of a veterinarian. Cats, especially those who are already overweight, who do not eat for two consecutive days are at a risk to develop fatty liver disease and should be checked immediately by your veterinarian.
Senior Foods
As your cat ages he may benefit from a senior diet. While not much is known about the nutrition of cats, we know:
• Older cats are more sedentary and require fewer calories.
• Older cats may benefit from a diet lower in phosphorus.
• A moderate level of fiber in the diet helps prevent constipation and maintain gastro-intestinal health.
• The food should be very palatable to encourage adequate food intake. A cat should be fed a senior diet starting around 7-8 years of age.

Cat Food: What’s in it?

The AAFCO (Association Of American Feed Control Officials) uses dry matter values when referring to the recommended breakdown of “key nutrients” for cat food by percentage or weight. Since most food manufacturers do not list their breakdowns in this way on labels, false assumptions may be made by the consumer when comparing canned food to dry food. You will see by using the following formula, that when the moisture content is removed from the equation, the results may be surprising.

Dry Matter Value Forumula

Look at the “Guaranteed Analysis” on a label.

Subtract the moisture percentage from 100.
Divide the resulting figure into the crude protein figure (disregard decimals when dividing).
The result will be a close approximation of protein by dry matter value.

(You can use the same formula to calculate the percentage of fat or fiber by dry matter value.)


Here are figures from three different cat foods, from three different manufacturers.
Brand A Premium Canned Food: Protein, 8.5% , Moisture, 78%
Brand B Premium Dry Food: Protein, 32% , Moisture, 10%
Brand C “Supermarket Brand” Canned Food: Protein, 10% , Moisture: 78%

Brand A: Using the formula above, and subtracting the moisture from 100%, we divide the remainder, 22 into the 8.5 protein content for a result of 38.5% protein by dry matter.

Brand B: 100 minus 10 equals 90, divided into 32 gives us 35.5%.

Brand C: 100 minus 78 equals 22 divided into 10 for 45%.

You can see in the example given that the two canned food brands contain more dry matter protein content than Brand B, a dry food, which at first glance seems to contain far more protein. In fact, by this test alone, one might think that Brand C (the “supermarket” brand) is superior for protein content.

Not so fast!

Actually, the first two listed ingredients on Brand C’s label are “meat by-products,” and “poultry by-products,” which were listed under “What to Avoid” in the first part of this series. The protein quality of this “supermarket” brand simply does not make the cut.

The 95%, 25%, 3% Rules

AAFCO has provided certain other rules for “truth in advertising” in cat foods. Don’t let those fancy designations such as “gourmet” or “feast” slip one past you. With these rules you’ll know at least the minimum your cat is getting of the advertised ingredient.
Here are the rules:

The 95% Rule
A cat food may not be labeled simply “Chicken for Cats,” or “Chicken Cat Food,” unless it contains 95% or more chicken by total weight of the product.
The 25% Rule
Foods labeled “Chicken Entre,” “Chicken Dinner,” “Chicken Feast,” or the like, must contain 25% to 95% chicken. Combinations, such as “Chicken and Beef Dinner” must contain a total of 25% to 95% of the combined meats, listed in order of quantity, and the second meat listed must comprise at least 3% of the total weight. (Imagine ordering a “steak and lobster” dinner and finding the “lobster” will barely fill a fork.)
The 3% Rule
A food labelled “Kitty Stew with Chicken” must contain 3% or more chicken. (“With” is the optimum word here.)
Barely worth mentioning here, but if you see something similar to “chicken flavored,” be assured that the product is unlikely to contain any chicken at all, as long as there is a “sufficiently detectable” amount of chicken flavor. Since these “flavors” may be the result of digests or by-products of the named animal, I’d avoid these at all costs.
FDA Rules and Specialty Foods

The FDA (which is the governing authority for pet foods) allows dog and cat food makers to vary ingredients by as much as 25% from what the label says. They are supposed to have the label and ingredients in the bag or can in close agreement at least once every six months (that translates to a requirement of 2 days a year). The rest of the time, the ingredient variation is okay, as long as nutritional requirements are met. This is a reasonable policy when one understands that these ingredients are perishable (need for preservatives) and simply may randomly become unavailable.

“Human Grade” and “Natural”

Although you will occasionally see “Human Grade” listed on pet food labels, the AAFCO does not recognize, nor presently address, this form of labeling.

However, because of the current trend toward “natural,” as well as “organic,” the AAFCO is currently working to define at least the former description. In the meantime, caveat emptor with those phrases. If you lean toward cat foods described as one or the other, make sure you completely understand what is meant by the terms.
“Dental Care,” “Hairball Formula”

You will find a number of foods labeled for dental care, hairball control, lite, weight reduction, or senior. At present, AAFCO does not address these definitions, so caveat emptor applies here also. If they seem to work for the stated purpose with your cat, fine, but make sure the essential nutrients are not compromised at the same time. The “complete and balanced” verbiage refers to life-stages only: kitten/lactating queens or adult/maintenance.

Poultry-by-products consists of clean heads & meat of slaughtered poultry, such as heads, feet and viscera, but not fecal or foreign matter.

Poultry by-product meal consists of clean ground rendered parts of slaughtered poultry, such as necks and meat, undeveloped eggs and intestines. It must not contain feathers except those which are unavoidable included during processing.

Ground Corn (also called corn mean or corn chop) is the entire corn kernel ground or chopped.  It must contain no more than 4% foreign material.

Corn Gluten Meal is the by-product after the manufacture of corn syrup or starch; and is the dried residue after the removal of the bran, germ and starch and is high-quality protein.

Benefits of Premium Foods

Premium foods use better quality ingredients from better food sources with higher biological values.  Consequently, their digestibility is highter.  Whereas an economy or regular brand of cat food might use corn, wheat or soybean as the primary ingredient, a premium-quality food will be more likely to use a good quality meat source as the main ingredient.

Because premium foods are made of better quality ingredients and have a better digestibility, the cat needs to eat much less food than he would need to consume of a lesser quality food.  Premium foods have another advantage that is important to many cat owners and that is the fact that there is less waste in premium food.  (Less waste translates as less fecal matter to scoop out of the litter box).

Better nutrition

Eats less

Stool is reduced

Touches all life stages

Food Intolerance/Hypoallergenic Formulas

Non-prescription hypoallergenic foods are for pets allergic to, or sensitive to, something in the food they eat.  Food allergies are actually rare, with fewer than 1% of pets ever suffering from a food allergy.  Intollerance to something in the food is more common than a true food allergy.  Feeding a hypoallergenic diet will not prevent food allergies!  It is simply less likely to produce an allergic reaction.


Symptons of food allergies may include:

Skin rashes, most usually around the neck



Generally, allergies deveop over time and the pet has most often been eating the food containing the offending ingredient for two years or more.  The ingredients that seem to cause the most problems are:






Suitable nutrient sources for cats that are not as common in pet foods are:


Whitefish/Ocean Fish




Allergic to your cat?

One common reason pets end up in shelters is due to an owner’s allergy. An estimated 15% of the population is allergic to our furry friends. But there are things you can do to reduce or eliminate your allergic symptoms.

Some cats are more allergenic than others. For years, allergists scoffed when patients swore they could tolerate exposure to certain cats, while others would send them into a bout of sneezing or wheezing. It turns out these patients were right all along.

Researchers studying ways to reduce cat allergenicity found some cats consistently shed lower levels of allergen. Unfortunately, there’s no practical way to identify these “hypoallergenic” cats in advance. But an even more important allergy predictor is hormones. It turns out male cats shed substantially greater amounts of allergen than females. A neutered male, on the other hand, sheds significantly less.

Cat allergen, the allergy causing material from cats, is not cat hair, but rather a protein present in the dander and saliva of cats. These allergens become airborne as microscopic particles, which when inhaled into the nose or lungs can produce allergic symptoms.

Cats present a unique situation. Being the conscientious groomers that they are, their fur is often covered with saliva, and this can produce allergic symptoms in people as well. Other potential sources of allergic stimuli are feathers, scales, molds, pollens, tobacco smoke, perfumes, carpet fibers, and housedust mites. Many people are allergic to more than one item.

The reason why people can acquire a new pet and not experience any of these symptoms until much later is due to the time required to produce these antibodies. It can take anywhere from three weeks to three years for the body to build up enough of the exact same antibody so that an allergen can cross-link two identical antigens. This cross-linkage is the signal to mast cells to spill their contents, resulting in typical allergy symptoms.

Unfortunately, if you are looking to buy a kitten or puppy, this doesn’t help you very much. All puppies and kittens have soft, supple skins. At this early age, an allergic person can probably handle any one of them and not have much, if any, of a reaction. It is as the skin ages and becomes less supple and the sebaceous glands begin to produce more oils (sebum) that allergy problems begin to appear.

So what to do?

Treat your other allergies. Few individuals are allergic only to cats. By controlling your allergies to pollens, molds and house dust, your tolerance for cats may improve significantly. People are not allergic to their pet per se, but to products of their pet. These include dander, hair or skin proteins, fur, saliva, blood, and even urine from rodents. By using a special pet shampoo, designed to reduce the airborne allergens your pet produces on a regular basis, and by taking a few preventive measures to remove or decrease other allergens in the home, an allergy sufferer should be able to reduce many of the sensitivities to his pet.


Keep the cat out of your bedroom (where you spend 1/3 of your life), for starters. People also can have varying degrees of sensitivities to different allergens. When someone is allergic to animal dander and saliva, he’s probably also allergic to other substances found in and around the house. Dust, mold, mildew, pollens, flowers, trees, paint, perfume, soaps, cosmetics, and other substances can trigger allergic reactions. Whether a person has symptoms or not depends on how many of these allergens are in his environment at a particular time.

Allergies are cumulative. In other words, they build up. Every allergic person has a tolerance level above which an acute reaction takes place. This is often referred to as the “rain barrel” effect. Someone who is allergic to animals, for instance, may have no noticeable symptoms when his total exposure is below his allergy threshold (or the amount of a substance needed to produce a reaction). But collect enough other allergens in the same environment to exceed his allergy threshold limit, his “rain barrel” will overflow and symptoms will pop up. Some people for instance, only experience pet allergy problems during hayfever season. One of the most important goals in controlling allergies to pets is to minimize exposure to other allergens, such as those mentioned above, that trigger attacks.

A good physician can help you with this problem and refer you to a specialist if necessary. Find out from a physician what your particular allergen is, and if it turns out to be pet- related, try to reduce the allergens in the environment. In order to determine what exactly a person is allergic to, see an allergy specialist. These allergists will perform prick, scratch, or intradermal skin tests that examine reactivity to as many as 70-80 possible allergens.

If you are allergic to six things, and can get rid of three of them, you may drop below your allergic threshold, and become symptom-free. Your physician may also be able to prescribe medications to lessen the symptoms associated with allergies. Using air cleaners or filters is not a bad idea, either.

While all this may seem discouraging, the good news is that some people can develop a lack of reactivity to the allergen following continued exposure, or through allergen immunotherapy (desensitization).

Once the person knows what he or she is allergic to, a specific plan of action can prevent the need to get rid of a pet, if the pet is indeed the cause of the reaction.

It may not be the cat at all, but the litter you are using, dust particles cling to the cat. If you are using a new brand of litter for him you haven’t previously tried, try switching brands and washing the cat. Many people are allergic to the different kinds of perfumes and deodorizers some brands use.