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Old 02-12-2012, 09:12 AM
Location: MI
67 posts, read 329,145 times
Reputation: 106


We have a foster cat with allergies. They're causing severe itching, and she's been suffering for months because the problem was misdiagnosed at first. We need to get her on a hypoallergenic diet ASAP for 3 months so that the itching can stop while her abdomen is healing (she licked it raw because of the itching). We'll introduce other foods one at a time after that.

The vet prescribed Royal Canin Hypoallergenic Hydrolized Protein food for these 3 months. Problem is, this cat won't eat it.

In the past few months, she's been on Diamond Naturals Dry Food for Adult Cats Indoor Hairball Control Chicken Formula and (for the past few weeks) Premium Edge Adult Cat Hairball Formula. She did much worse on the first type but still has problems on the second type. They're by the same manufacturer, so they're similar. A small difference is that the first has "whole grain brown rice" and the second has "ground rice" (and as the fifth ingredient rather than the fourth one). Also, the first one has "fish meal," while the second one has salmon and "ocean fish meal."

The second one has more ingredients, but I'm more interested in what the first one has as she did worse on that.

The choices I see at this point are to find a limited ingredient food that doesn't have any of the suspect ingredients or to home-cook food for her for 3 months. If I go with the first choice, Natural Balance Green Pea and Salmon Formula looks like the best choice to me. The salmon would be a risk, but everything else looks fine. It doesn't contain rice, chicken, or dairy.

I should also mention that when I first got this foster cat, I fed our cats Natural Balance for a little while, when it was on sale. She ate the above, but she wouldn't eat the duck formula (I tried a can of that), so any foods with duck are off the list.

The second choice, to prepare the food for her myself, would let me make sure that the food contains nothing she's eaten since she's been with us. My concern is that because she's a foster cat, she will need to go back to dry food at some point. After we identify her allergens, my goal is to find a quality dry food that she can eat and to give that information to whoever adopts her. We take care to adopt rescue animals only to responsible, caring people, but if she had to go to a home where someone prepared her food for the rest of her life, she might never get adopted.

Based on all the above, what would you suggest? Have you heard of feeding cats home-prepared food and then switching them back to quality dry food? Do you have any other ideas?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 02-12-2012, 09:44 AM
Location: Pittsburgh area
9,918 posts, read 23,102,948 times
Reputation: 5143
First of all, good on you for fostering cats.

As you probably know, a canned food would be better than dry, but I know you have to make compromises in fostering from a cost-benefit standpoint. (You can save more cats if the food costs less and hope they don't have to eat low-quality food forever.)

Foods with fish may not be the best in the long run, but you have to balance that with what you can get the cat to eat, of course, as well as the allergens, whatever they may be. If the allergen is chicken it gets more difficult to avoid fish.

Dry food has to have something to bind it together. In cheaper foods this is typically corn or other grain. In your grain-free foods this is typically potato and/or sweet potato though sometimes ranges into the peas like in the Natural Balance and I've even seen chickpeas/garbanzo beans. Not all of those ingredients are necessarily suspect at least, but it may be difficult to find one product that actually has the combo of ingredients you want without the chicken. Fish formulas might actually be easiest with that.

If the problem is chicken, lamb is a typical low-allergen protein that's sometimes available even in some lower-end dry foods. But these foods typically still have corn/wheat/rice/etc so won't work if those are the problem (not to mention those are generally useless for the cat). You can find foods made with venison, rabbit and other interesting proteins, but they tend to be pricey.

Although I really don't think you'd necessarily have a huge switching back problem if you prep the food yourself for a while. Normally the problem is the other way around: cat addicted to dry food won't eat canned or home prepared or commercial raw or whatever. (This is my cat's problem. ) Switching the cat back to a dry food after the home prep probably would be pretty easy at least from the "will she eat it" point anyway. She may have some stomach upset or such but probably not if you can do it gradually enough. Every cat is different though; you do get some who really prefer their wet or raw or home prepped foods. So it's a little bit of a crapshoot.

I'm just wondering that if you prep the food yourself and need to avoid chicken if you'll really be at a lower cost than purchasing something. Maybe you still would. Usually it's cheaper to make it yourself vs really costly canned foods or commercial raw, but it might not be cheaper against a suitable dry and especially if you can't use chicken.

Kinda rambling all over the place a bit there, but maybe it gives you some help with deciding. If I come up with a suitably dry to recommend other than what you already posted I will reply again. I looked at a couple while typing but nothing is really jumping out at me so far.
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Old 02-13-2012, 05:41 PM
2,089 posts, read 3,941,392 times
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Epigen-60 by Wysong, but you have to transition to Epigen SLOWLY.
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Old 02-16-2012, 11:42 AM
2,401 posts, read 4,418,508 times
Reputation: 2193
Can I suggest try giving the cat a store bought live mouse (or if available a field mice) in a "contained area"???
Mouse *IS* the sole most wholesome & natural food (since ancient times) which contains taurine the kitty needs... spiders and other insects also do supplement other food needs.

A field mice actually helped with food transition with my own kitty, now she can actually eat most food types (raw, wet, dry & homecooked). She had the runs when she was first brought home & I tried to ween her from her "science diet" dry food... and for a short while was even refusing to eat as well... so our cousin from the farm brought her a field mice to "play with".
She did not eat it for the first day, & the mouse was still alive... but when I asked her (talked to kitty yes) "why don't she tried to eat it?" she seemed to understand me & went for the kill & actually ate the mouse whole (hungry kitty).... tail & all. She became trained as a mouser then... and she caught many mouse for us in our place through out the years & kept my home "mouse-free".
As to her "poop"... she has the most best looking poopies whenever she ate a mice... so I know mice works for her needs.

BTW... Reading & following up on so many recalled "brands" on kitty foods even the "natural" ones that advertise on its "quality" products... I understand one thing. "Processed" food from factories (anything that is handled too much by human hands) is not necessary "the best". Too many things can go wrong (eg. contaminate it or a mistake happen where not enough certain "nutrients" was put into to help complete kitty needs).
If for million of years a cat can survive on its own & still thrived as a species.... their most "natural" of foods that comes from its hunt WILL be the best "for it".
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Old 02-16-2012, 12:36 PM
Location: Pittsburgh area
9,918 posts, read 23,102,948 times
Reputation: 5143
I don't think that was the issue though. The question was more about dealing with having the cat remain adoptable later. Realistically, if you're trying to have the cat be adopted, you can't put the condition on that "cat only eats raw food". It might be IDEAL, yeah, but it's not a realistic requirement, at least not yet.
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Old 02-23-2012, 04:10 PM
Location: MI
67 posts, read 329,145 times
Reputation: 106
Thanks everyone for your responses. With all the useful information here, I hope this thread can be useful to other people too.

The problem has been solved, at least for now. It took a couple of steps to get there, though.

After I wrote the above post, I found a limited ingredient food that I thought would work for this cat: Instinct Grain-Free Turkey Meal Formula. It has no ingredients that she'd eaten recently (she did have turkey in some canned food last summer, but that's all). She liked it! But it didn't like her. Right after I started adding it to her food, she began to have sneezing fits and was congested. This was stronger and more sudden than a respiratory infection. I stopped the food after 2 days, and 2 days after that, her symptoms started subsiding.

This food contains tapioca and green tea, which aren't common ingredients in cat food. I'm guessing that she was reacting to one of those. I'm going to give the food to our own cat, who doesn't have food sensitivities.

At this point, I decided to try the prescription food again. I mixed just a few pieces of kibble in with the rest of the food, and she ate them that way. I then increased the amount of prescription food *very* gradually, and she's now eating almost all prescription food. I didn't think she'd get to this point when she wouldn't touch it at all at first, but she did. Now she can go for 3 months without being affected by food allergens, and we'll be able to figure out what she's allergic to after that.

Thanks again for your help.
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